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Entrepreneurs need help. It’s a fact. Though the type of assistance needed may vary—accounting, marketing / advertising, payroll, mailing services, legal advice, etc.—there is one thing that is true for all services: you must know (or have a decent idea) of what you need in order for the provider to be effective in helping you.

So, when it comes to contacting a service provider, be sure that you’ve thought through the following questions before making that call or sending out that email:

1. What’s the easiest, most succinct way for me to describe my business and the product / services that I offer?

2. What is the issue that I am dealing with that this provider can help me fix?

3. What is the source for this problem? / Why am I having this problem?

4. When the work is complete, what is the desired outcome? What’s my goal for the work being requested?

5. Is there a specific way that I need or want to have the issue addressed? If so, what are the “must-haves” or guidelines that I’d like the provider to adhere to?

6. What things have I tried before that either didn’t work or that I don’t care to do again? What are the reasons that those tactics didn’t work or why don’t I want to do those things again?

7. What is the budget / price that I can realistically afford to pay to have this project completed as I want and need it to be completed?

It’s common for entrepreneurs to know that they need a specific type of help but not to know exactly what they need. If that’s the case, do not be ashamed to tell the provider. A good service provider will be willing and able to walk you through the process. Together, you’ll be able to work out a feasible solution.

If, on the other hand, you know exactly how you want the provider to solve your problem, say that. However, you should realize that if you’re adamant about what you want and how you want it done, that is what the provider will do. Most providers will advise you if what you’re requesting isn’t the best option for your needs but some will not.

Additionally, at the end of the day, the provider’s goal is to make you, a.k.a their client, happy. So, be sure you’re requesting the right service and that any stipulations you mandate are what you really want and need to solve your problem. Otherwise, you can end up paying for work that you requested that fails to address your original issue, not because of the provider’s inability but your failure to direct them properly.

As always, if you have a marketing question that you would like me to answer, send me an email at AskTanisha@TheLoftyEntrepreneur.com or ask@madamenoire.com.

Tanisha Coffey is a professional writer and marketing consultant based in metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia. She provides her services through the strategic marketing consulting, professional copywriting and independent author services firm Scribe, Etc.

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