Freelancer vs Consultant. Which one you need?

Both freelancers and consultants do a lot of work independently and give you some results, but what is the main difference between two?


7/16/2021 3 min read

You are a business which needs some high quality work done and you don't have resources or expertise to do it fast.

Or you are an independent expert yourself who helps businesses to achieve their goals.

What is the difference between a freelancer and a consultant. Which one you should become or which one you should hire?

Answer is very simple. Do you need outputs or outcomes?

Outputs are simple and clear deliverables, tasks. Every day everyone performs a lot of all sorts of tasks.

However, it doesn't mean that doing some action will yield certain results.

For example, statistically, most of businesses fail due to lack of revenue, product-market-fit, even when teams invested a lot of resources into building something, performing tasks.

Outcomes is actual impact. It's long-term results, clarity and stability you get after tasks are done.

Freelancers are focused on crafting clear deliverables in specific niche when you know two things:
1. What exactly do you need?
2. How exactly will it impact your situation?

For example, you might need a high quality logo, or a new feature developed, UX design, or a new branding when you already have 100% clarity and strong strategy with a lot of actual evidence and proof in a form of data to back up your decisions.

Consultants, on the other hand, are focused on outcomes and impact.

Consultants, from small independent ones to the ones working as a team at largest firms like McKinsey, don't have particular task and deliverable.

In a nutshell, consultants are like doctors, they mostly listen, help you to think, to ask right and very good questions and find good answers to those questions.

Consultants do a lot of research and find right data and evidence, build winning strategies and give you 100% clarity, action plan and competitive edge.

Many thing that consultants are advisors who just listen and give you beautiful words of advice and wisdom, when you need real operational work and results.

This is why they are called consultants and not advisors.

Consultants don't just give you some clarity and advice, the whole point is, they actually do operational work and, like freelancers, give you certain deliverables.

Every consultant is a like a freelancer, but not every freelancer is a consultant.

However, I have to admit, that it is extremely hard to find good consultants, and you will meet a lot of "free riders", those more of advisors, talkers, not doers.

Best consultants will quickly deliver you not just beautiful presentations, but also will set up themselves some tools, processes, automation, will create specific documents depending on the type of work consultant is doing, it could be UX and product management, it could be DevOps or anything else.

Apart from that they will get to know your team and will identify other issues.

Consultants are teachers, coaches. They will help your team members to become better, acquire a lot of expertise and fast.

Overall, when you really have 100% clarity and know all the complicated questions and answers yourself, and you just need someone to execute partiulcar tasks, find a freelancer.

If you don't have full clarity and there is something you don't know, or you want to quickly bring a lot of external expertise, or, in most cases, if you want to find the best ways to grow your business, seek for a consultant.

Don't be afraid of bringing in external expertise. You will get tremendous ROI very quick.

Let me tell you a secret in a final note. There are many great individual consultants and smaller firms apart from top brands you have heard of. Top firms are usually way more expensive and sometimes deliver worse results.

You can get a lot of ROI by simply investing few thousand dollars. Don't hesitate to bring in many different independent consultants or small firms.

Everyone needs clarity. Everyone needs a coach. Everyone wants to grow, learn more, become better at whatever they do, don't you?

And, who knows, this consultant later could become your fulltime team member, or co-founder, or partner.

If you want to find A players or become one, you will have to do what you haven't done before.

Comfort, what you know, believe in, use already and growth, change are not possible together.