Many professionals are choosing to opt out of the formal rat race, and are choosing to start a consulting firm and offering their services in whatever field they may be most active in.
However, it is very important to note that a consulting business is like any other – in addition to hands on skills and knowledge, a keen business sense, and an entrepreneurial spirit are important, if not vital, to your success.
So what factors should you weigh up when deciding if becoming a consultant is a good idea?
Well, firstly, you need to develop a slightly thick skin. Business is often about rejection, and chances are you are going to hear a lot of “no’s” before you get a “yes.” If you can handle rejection, and still persevere and maintain optimism, you should be fine!
Do you think, and dream big? It is all very well going into business and consulting, but you have to have the guts to go for the big projects. Taking on lots of small projects will achieve the same end result, but you will find yourself working very hard, for small individual results!
You need the ability to think on your feet, and be adaptable. If you’re working for yourself as a consultant, you become a puppet to your clients’ whims. Learn to accept the fact that to become successful in consulting, you need to adjust your schedule to suit those clients’ needs.
On that same note, also bear in mind that clock-watchers rarely make it big. It is a true fact that when you work for yourself, you are going to have to work harder than before. No matter what business you are going into, as an entrepreneur, you will have to give 110% all the time.
In addition, as any entrepreneur, whether you’re a marketing consultant, into computer consulting or even another business, you do need a healthy appetite for risk. Educated, calculated risks yes, but risks nonetheless. Try to build up a buffer before you open your practice, and remember that it usually takes a few months to get going!
Another key point to remember is that while you may be an expert in your field as a consultant, as a business owner, you will need to be a jack-of-all-trades! It is unlikely that you will have the capital to hire trained staff to carry out functions like marketing, administration and maybe even designing or maintaining your website. Outsource what you can, and what you can afford to, but bear in mind that you will need to tap into skills you may not have thought you had!
Strange then that the next point relates to teamwork and people skills! While you may very well be flying solo for a while, you would do well to take note that never before will interpersonal skills be as important as when you are launching your own consulting firm or even freelancing. You will need to be assertive, yet flexible, pleasant, yet drive a hard bargain, and because you will become a part of your clients’ professional teams, you need to be a team player.
So, to answer the question, is the consulting business for me? If you are dedicated, determined, adaptable, energetic, intelligent and driven, then yes, it probably is. And remember, many skills can be learned along the way, through trial and error. Passion for your field cannot. If you are driven by a passion, you should do just fine!