So, You Want To Be a Consultant?
At some point in their careers, many corporate professionals entertain the notion of becoming an independent consultant. Some decide to enter consulting as a bridge between corporate jobs. Others wish to commit to an ongoing consulting practice. If you are among these individuals, it is wise to decide whether you are personally well suited to pursue this direction. Here are some points to consider:
Do I Have a Compelling Value Offering? As with any product or service, successful consultants have a compelling reason for being such that clients engage them versus many others vying for their business. Why should a client select you? Do you have a unique or distinctive skill set that you bring to the table?
Do I Have a Viable Business Model? How will you earn money? How much money do you require in order to sustain your business? For example, will you only work on a fee-for-service basis, or would you be willing to work on a contingency basis (i.e. your compensation is predicated on achieving a particular business objective)? What business model will work for you (and your clients)?
How Thick is My Skin? As a consultant, you should expect to be rejected by the majority of the prospects you contact. These rebuffs are usually not personal, yet, it can be easy for a sensitive person to take rejection personally. If you can't handle rejection, consulting may not be for you.
Can I Weather The Start Up Phase? While it would be terrific if your consulting practice is successful from the get-go, most aren't. It can take 1-2 years (or more) in order to establish a consistent client base. Are you financially (and/or emotionally) able to manage a protracted start-up phase?
How Well Do I Deal With Uncertainty? One of the common characteristics of an independent consultancy is its fluctuating business cycles. Sometimes you may face the prospect of more business than you feel you can comfortably handle. Other times, you may be concerned about where and when your next engagement will occur. If you are uncomfortable in dealing with uncertainty, you may wish to stick with your corporate gig.
Am I Comfortable With Selling? In consulting, a substantial portion of your time will be spent servicing your clients. You will also need to dedicate time to selling your skills and capabilities in order to attract new clients. To succeed at this, you must be comfortable with selling. Some folks aren't...particularly when cold calling is involved. If you wish to be a successful consultant, either build this competency into your practice (e.g. hire a new business developer) or be prepared to get comfortable in marketing yourself to prospects. It's a necessary and essential part of the business.
Professional consulting can represent an exciting and rewarding career choice. Yet it is a not a good fit for everyone. If you decide it is right for you, and if you approach it with the passion and vigor that it requires, you can develop a very successful and satisfying practice. Good luck!
"Connecting You With The Right Solutions" BFS Innovations, Inc.