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Why on Earth would anyone want to hire a consultant?

They are overpriced, they have no accountability and most of them don’t take part in the execution or implementation of the plan. Can’t we just do the job ourselves?

I am a consultant. For the last 20 years I have developed expertise that no one in their right mind would look to acquire as a full time job. During the early ’90s, I worked for a great accounting firm and we developed a thriving bankruptcy practice helping struggling companies navigate out of bankruptcy.

This is obviously a skill-set that those particular organizations did not have. That practice morphed into a troubled-company consulting practice trying to prevent bankruptcy or move clients toward a path of reorganization. Since that path sometimes resulted in a sale of the business, the next firm I joined formed a group that valued companies, prepared them for sale and subsequently consulted with the seller on the transaction price.

Why do I point out aspects of an ever changing career? As the market changes and the economic landscape shifts, you may need to ask for help. Asking for help is one of the hardest things to do when you are running you own business and focusing on your core competency. If you want to stay in business and keep growing, you need consultants to navigate you through an issue from time to time. The current issue I am facing is the Affordable Care Act.

With the passing of the Affordable Care Act, every American (with some exceptions) will be required to have health care or pay a tax. The tax will start small at $95 per year but will grow to $695 by 2016. The concept of affordable care for everyone is a great concept. People who have fallen on hard times should have access to care that the fortunate ones have. The unfortunate consequence is that our system of government passed a law with so many moving parts that it is struggling to put the system in place.

Since every able American will now be required to have health care or pay a tax, that health care will be obtained through three avenues: employers, public exchanges or private exchanges. The public exchange is the government and private exchanges are being built by entrepreneurial entities. The employer, unfortunately, has been the victim — the Affordable Care Act requires employers who have more than 50 full-time employees to offer health care to their employees or pay a tax.

This is where the consultant comes in.

The decision to offer health care or pay a penalty is not an easy one to figure out when you add in the financial, recruiting, retention, moral, communication and human aspects of the decision. We have clients we are advising to get out of the health care business or make their care unaffordable.

Why? The tax put on an employer can be avoided only by covering the individual and by putting a plan in place that covers the bare minimums. By doing this, companies can avoid the tax and screwing the employees at the same time. If an employee who cannot afford to buy up to the family plan tries to go to the public exchange to get insurance for his or her family, the employee will not be able to receive a tax subsidy or credit from the exchange.

The decision to not offer affordable coverage may be the best decision for your employees but the next step is even harder: How do you communicate this to the employees and help them understand that you are truly doing it out of your heart?

This is where the consultant comes back in. Your communication strategy is more vital than any other part of this change. Do your research, understand your financial constraints and check your moral compass.

Then hire a consultant. Because, in the end, he or she can save your company.