How much consulting work and business is really out there? A combination of the tough economic situation, and the associated move by companies to outsource many tasks, rather than employ full time staff to accomplish these tasks.
This means that there is a lot of potential work for consultants out there in the market, and in fact, it has been estimated that the consulting industry will grow between 15 and 20 percent every year – very respectable for any industry!
And with such phenomenal growth potential, there are a growing number of individuals applying their skills to the market with great success.
However, there are a few alarm bells that should be rung before you start spending those huge checks that you will be earning!
More and more often, clients and consultants are failing to connect with regards to briefs, resulting in frustration on both sides, when projects are completed unsuccessfully.
Here are a few tips to make sure your consulting business becomes one of the success stories, rather than a failure statistic!
Firstly, meet with your clients extensively to ascertain their exact requirements. Ask questions, and make sure you know precisely what they are looking for from you. Consulting, in any field, is not a one size fits all profession – every job will be a little different, and the client will have slightly different requirements. Make sure you know what they are.
On that same note, during your meetings with your client, take care to assess whether you can deliver on all of their requirements. It is OK to take on jobs that push the boundaries a little, but accepting projects that you know fall far outside your scope and consulting experience is asking for trouble! It is better to turn down a job, and lose one contract, than it is to irreparably damage your reputation by accepting it and failing!
If and when you do decide to take on a project, make sure that you stay in regular contact with your client. While you are engaged in their project, contact them at every milestone, and whenever there is a query regarding the project. Never assume that you can figure it out on your own – get their feedback!
Customer service stays customer service, no matter what business you are in, so all of these should be achieved with courtesy, tact and grace.
Building a reputation is the single best thing you can do for your consulting business, as word of mouth can bring in substantial amounts of business. Likewise, a bad reputation, or negative feedback from clients can sink your consulting firm before it has even gotten started.
Going the extra mile, meeting deadlines and providing value for money services (not necessarily cut price, just worth the cost) will all be noted by clients, and believe me, the business community is smaller and closer knit than you ever dreamed possible. Word will get around.
Since the consulting industry is growing so rapidly, and you will have some stiff competition, this reputation may become the one thing that sets you apart from your competitors, so nurturing it makes very good business sense!
So, if you’re ready to put your clients first, spend time marketing, and provide the very best possible consulting service you can, consistently, then yes, there is a lot of work out there, and you should be able to slice off a nice chunk of the pie for yourself!