Becoming a Consultant? What Exactly is Consulting?

Maybe you are thinking of becoming a consultant in a field that you are interested in, or have knowledge and experience in. You might not be exactly clear on what the profession entails but I’m sure you’ve heard many people say, when asked what they do, that they are a consultant.

Since the term “consulting” covers such a broad range of professions, from business consulting to IT, construction and social events, it can be useful to know, and understand, exactly what it is that consultants do, what they offer their clients, and how they make money.

The term consultant is probably best defined by the process involved in every consultant’s handling of a particular project. This usually entails the following steps:

  • Investigate and analyze a problem, situation or need.
  • Meet with and consult stakeholders at all levels.
  • Compile and analyze the data, including direct observations by parties involved.
  • Recommend an appropriate action or series of actions.
  • Assist with the implementation of the action or actions recommended.

If you look at the process involved, and compare it to what you do at your job every day, you are likely to see some similarities. That is because, when you get right down to it, there is an element of consulting in almost every profession and job. Many professionals, for example lawyers, engineers and nutritionists could be deemed consultants by this definition, so the term becomes interchangeable.

Consultants, in their most basic, stripped down form, are professional problem solvers. They enter organizations with a focus, and cast an objective, skilled, experienced eye to a situation, providing innovative, cost effective solutions to the situation at hand.

Therefore, if you are considering a career change, and would like to possibly become a consultant, chances are, you have some experience already!

Since consulting is a growth industry at the moment, with the trend among companies, large and small, to outsource many complex tasks, rather than hiring in house professionals, that might be a very good idea indeed. This trend is fuelled by the economic state the globe has found itself in, so it seems unlikely that this growth will slow or cease any time soon, which adds further impetus to the desire of many to start and run their own consulting business.

Moreover, since most people have had some exposure to the consulting field in their every day employment, there is a very good chance that you already have marketable consulting skills, whether in your professional, or private capacity.

To determine what kind of consultancy you could consider opening, make a list of the qualifications, experience, skills and interests you have.

Some fields, such as construction consulting or business consulting may require you to have a relevant degree, however, again, certain types of consulting may still be a possible avenue.

If you are thinking about becoming a consultant then just about any skill can be turned into a consulting business – think about wedding planners – they meet the criteria for consultants, and therefore they can be considered consultants, however, unlike their professional counterparts, often, their start in the industry is not through a degree, but through hands on experience.

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