Survey Says: Entrepreneurs Nix Consultants

Posted by James C. Johnson on May 29th, 2007 6:46am EST

Here’s eye-opening information from a recent press release: 

<<A recent survey conducted by BizBuySell, the largest online business-for-sale marketplace, found that nearly 75% of business owners doubted the effectiveness of hiring consultants to improve business reputation, preferring instead to do their own marketing without external assistance.  Of the survey sample, 68% of respondents said they had never engaged a consultant to help improve their business. Of those who had engaged consultants, 45% were moderately satisfied with the results. 27% felt the consultant did a great job for the business, while 24% regretted the decision to hire a consultant, stating it was a waste of time and money.>>  Wow!  Are you kidding me?  I found these numbers surprising because everything that I have been reading about business growth suggests (encourages! urges! demands!) that you not do it all yourself.  That to grow, your business needs a team, whether outsourced or in-house.  Why?  Because one person (or two people) can’t know everything there is to know about running a business and about running it well. 

I’ll use myself as today’s guinea pig.  When I emerged from law school, there was only one thing that I was taught well:  how to have the basic skills necessary to get a job as a lawyer.  Emphasis on get a job.  I was not taught how to start a law practice, how to market a law practice, how to network at events to get clients, how to handle the bookkeeping for a law practice, how to write in a language other than legalese, how to handle customer service, how to hire staff, how to grow a business, how to develop alternative income streams.  I learned all that on-the-job, once I made the decision to go into my own practice with my partner.  Quite frankly, there were plenty of times that I did a, ummm, less-than-stellar job.   So how did I learn how to do it right?  The same ways I learned everything else:  a mix of trial-and-error, and being taught by people who are doing it well.   

In my early years, I avoided consultants.  What could they possibly have to teach me? I wondered.  Truth was, at the time, it was a mask for being afraid of spending the money.  I wasn’t yet ready to acknowledge that I didn’t know everything – I saw that as a weakness instead of an opportunity for growth.  And I also couldn’t see that if I didn’t get help, I’d stay in exactly the same position . . . which was an unpleasant option.  Once I overcame that hurdle, I had to learn to discern which consultants really knew what they were talking about.  Oy!  Did I make some poor choices!  I can’t say the money was entirely wasted, for I did get a few things from their perspective (there’s always something to be learned from someone else) and I did learn from the experience.  But it took time (and a few bumps in the road) to get savvy about it, and to get a real sense of which consultants could really help my business grow.   

TIP:  Sometimes, it’s worth working with more expensive consultants, because they may be more likely to have the know-how to help you.  Find out if they’re on the speaking circuit.  See if they’ll divulge how much money they are making/how many clients they have each year from their consulting practices and products.  See who recommends them and in whose circles they travel.  That’ll give you a definite sense of whether they are successful at what they do. So, enough about me . . . and back to the survey.  It doesn’t make sense to hire a consultant just for the sake of saying you’re working with one (the way some people consider having a therapist as a status symbol).  But if you’re interested in business growth, you’re far less likely to achieve it totally by yourself.  And, I’d love to know whether the I-would-never-use-a-consultant business owners would be so eager to sell their businesses if they were really happy with the way they were growing! 

For more information –    About BizBuySell: BizBuySell ( is the Internet’s largest and most heavily trafficked business for sale marketplace, with more business for sale listings, more unique users, and more search activity than any other service. BizBuySell currently has an inventory of over 46,000 businesses for sale, and more than 975,000 user sessions each month. BizBuySell also has one of the largest databases of sale comparables for recently sold businesses and one of the industry’s leading franchise directories.  

About BizBuySell

BizBuySell is the Internet's largest business for sale marketplace. Since 1996, BizBuySell has offered tools that make it easy for business owners and brokers to sell a business, and potential buyers to find the business of their dreams. BizBuySell currently has an inventory of approximately businesses - spanning 80 countries - for sale at any one time and receives more than monthly visits. The site also features an extensive franchise directory as well as an easy-to-use business valuation tool. Please visit for more information.

BizBuySell was founded in 1996 and in 2012 became a division of CoStar Group, Inc. (NASDAQ - CSGP) - commercial real estate's leading provider of information and analytic services. CoStar conducts expansive, ongoing research to produce and maintain the largest and most comprehensive database of commercial real estate information and offers a suite of online services enabling clients to analyze, interpret and gain unmatched insight on commercial property values, market conditions and current availabilities. For more information, visit

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BizBuySell is the Internet's largest and most heavily trafficked business for sale marketplace, with more business for sale listings, more unique users, and more search activity than any other service.