Should you hire consultants?

You meet a terrific person, who is unable to accept a full time position with your company, but offers to do some paid consulting for you. Should you bring them on as a consultant?

My view: Almost never, for two reasons:

  1. Your long term success is entirely dependent on the team you build. As Vinod Khosla says, “the company you build is the team you build”. So your goal is not to “execute a set of tasks”, but to “build an outstanding team”. Consultants are therefore only valuable if they help you build that team faster. That’s rarely the case, because managing a consultant takes time and mindshare, which reduces the time and mindshare you can spend hiring a great (full time) team.
  2. Your biggest challenges often require you to “figure things out”. External consultants rarely figure the hard things out for you, and if they do, much of the knowledge is theirs, not your company’s.

None of this is affected by how good the consultant is, or the potential short-term achievements from hiring the consultant.

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