So you’re thinking of starting your own consulting practice. You’ve seen the demand for freelancers and contractors skyrocket and you’re ready to cash in. You’re great at what you do and you’re ready to spread your skills across dozens of different clients.
Sound like you? Keep reading and make sure you are really ready for the cut-throat world of consulting.
The service of external consultants is increasingly relied on in the corporate world. Consultants are the magic answer for solving short or even long-term company problems; where businesses lack the expertise or time to implement work themselves, using a consultant can be a much more cost efficient and straight forward solution.
Consultancy practices offer advice and assistance organisations on all manner of issues, the most common of which are strategic planning, financial planning, accounting, marketing, human resources, or I.T. Consultants are usually self-employed, engage with multiple clients at a time, and are considered to be members of a profitable profession.
While all of this is true there are some myths and legends about consulting that you should know before taking up the gauntlet:
You can be a consultant in almost anything
While there are a number of mainstream sectors such as I.T where consultants are commonly used, don’t be afraid to find a niche for your consulting skills and target that too. If there’s something you love doing, don’t stop doing it. Check out some of the instructors and consultants on Udemy’s online learning platform, perhaps consider running a course yourself!
Being self-employed as pros and cons
While working in your pyjamas and going for a mid-morning run sounds heavenly, being self employed isn’t a walk in the park. Finding home/work boundaries is hard, and the lack of financial security when you work for yourself can be daunting and stressful during those inevitable quiet periods. Consultants often work on multiple projects at the same time, or conclude one project while developing the next; while this can be exciting it can also be extremely challenging and demanding – make sure you manage your time effectively.
Networking is your life now
If you’re opening your own consultancy practice, the first thing you need to do is fill that address book: get great branded business cards and get out there. Networking is one of the best things you can do for your new business.
Know your stuff
To become the successful consulting professional that you envisioned, you need to know your stuff inside out. Review your skills, experience and knowledge before taking on any job and choose your target sector wisely. It is the responsibility of the consultant to lead their clients through each step of the process. Establishing yourself as a sector authority can be tough, earn an extra buck while showcasing your knowledge by teaching and sharing your skills with beginners.
Know your market
Which of your consulting skills are considered essential and which are considered a luxury in todays economy? Look at market trends and see what value you can offer cash strapped companies. If the market is changing, make sure you are flexible – when an area is growing, hone in your skills and marketing efforts.
Get set up
While starting up in consulting requires very little outlay compared to a start-up selling product, you will still need to begin on the right foot, which means investing. A lot of new consultants work from home, ideal if you’re still low on cash and need to direct your finances elsewhere. One of the things you do need to splash out on is a good website – easy to use, comprehensive, and attractive to customers. Make sure you build a firm foundation on which you can productively manage your time, money, and resources. Show yourself off by building great multimedia courses for your clients to enjoy and learn from in the selection process.