In this era of startups and small businesses, consulting is a growing field, but not everyone has the necessary skills for the job. You can only consult on what you know with a high level of expertise. But how do you know if you have what it takes? Before diving into consulting looking for your next big break, here’s what the experts have to say – with these insights you’ll know what it takes to consult successfully.
It’s Not Easy
Consulting is the kind of career that gets lumped into a variety of work from home schemes. And while you absolutely can consult from home, don’t confuse working from home with having an easy job. Just like being a graphic designer and building websites, consulting is a challenging career that sometimes requires long hours and serious attention to detail. Set up your office wherever you’d like – wherever you work from, your clients will keep you plenty busy.
You Need Experience
To get your start in consulting, you first need to learn the ins and outs of your chosen field on the ground and build a reputation as someone knowledgeable and innovative. Consultants are experts – maybe not the best in their field, but they’ve been around the block a few times.
What’s more, depending on your field, you may need a team to run a consulting business. While you don’t need to run triathalons with your consulting partners like the folks at Cane Bay Partners, you’ll need to work well together. Maybe you know a lot about marketing but you’re consulting on a construction business. You can tell them how to pitch their image to the public, but they’ll need someone with more industry expertise to discuss those particulars with.
Offer Something Extra
The consulting market is growing rapidly – though not always with people bringing real experience to the table. That’s why you need to find something that can help you stand out from the crowd. You shouldn’t just be clear that you can offer industry expertise, but that you can help your client capture an unreached market or provide a new approach to an old field. There needs to be a reason that clients will choose you over your competition and you should be upfront about it.
Keep Things Moving
Successful consulting relies on short term relationships. You meet the client, you establish a need, you work towards a clear goal, and you close the account. Longer relationships tend to suggest that you aren’t doing your job well or that you’re dragging out jobs for your own advantage, not that of the client. This means you’ll need a lot of clients. If you don’t think you can attain the volume needed, this may not be the field for you.
Think you’re ready to start a consulting business? If you can move through this list with confidence and feel certain you have the required expertise, then it may be time to open your doors. Consulting can be very rewarding for the right person but it isn’t a field to be taken up lightly.