Careers (MP) You may have desired starting your own consultant business for years, or inspiration may have hit you unexpectedly. Whatever the source, the first step of starting your consulting business is coming up with the idea. Your idea may be grounded in software, service or brick and mortar restaurant.
What’s you’re talent or how do you provide a service or help a company in need? In today’s economy, more and more businesses are looking to outsource help (consultants) to resolve their needs. Outsourcing has been growing rapidly since the 90’s. Why? because it saves company’s time and money thereby increasing their profits.
What consultants do?
There are hundreds of reasons why clients look for consultants and technical ability. And such businesses have several areas that need people but not full-time. But what exactly does consulting involve? In brief, consulting examines a client’s business, determines how best to improve it, and implements agreed actions to forge positive, lasting and profitable change. As a consultant, your job will be to provide analysis and advice, expert guidance, and/or an extra pair of hands to your business clients. Corporate clients hire consultants by the hour, the day, or the project that will help them solve problems, complete essential projects, or handle day-to-day responsibilities, for instance when an important position is vacant.
Advantage of being a consultant
Besides things such as making their own hours, you happen to be your own boss, and it’s a wonderful way to generate income, there are other economic benefits to being a consultant. You may be able to earn more per hour than you did as an employee, or work mostly from home. You’ll have greater independence, increased flexibility, and the possibility of more time with your family. If you’ve lost your job, consulting will keep you current within your field, offer you useful contacts, and fill the opening in your resume if you pursue another salaried position in the future. A consulting contract may even turn into an offer for a full-time job, once an employer gets to know what you can do.
Disadvantages of being a consultant
Travel: This relies on the type of consulting you do and your tolerance for travel. I do know a lot of consultants who do nothing BUT travel. Some people absolutely love traveling week in and week out for work. But for most of us, it quickly gets tiresome. You’re generally up before the sun on Monday to get your flight, living out of hotels, faraway from friends/family. Plus a lot of the time, you’re not in some exciting city, but a boring town. Some consultants never have to travel at all.
Work/family balance: Experiences, even within a single company, will vary much, but it’s not unusual for consultants to work terrible hours — late nights, weekends, last-minute travel plans getting cancelled.
Turnover: Because of a) the travel and b) the work/life balance many big firms experience a fair amount of churn. People get tired of traveling, or want to start families, and move to companies where they have a more stable position. This means you’ll likely lose some connections you’ve built up within the firm as these people leave (on the other side, you’ve now got connections with other companies).
Education: While there are no degree requirements for a consultant, they do need to have vast experience and knowledge in a particular field. Alongside ability, a consultant should have a track record of past accomplishments. People that have higher levels of education and experience will generally receive greater compensation for their services. Consulting is a broad market, and, from businesses to personal services, there’s a consulting opportunity for practically every industry.
|Required Education||Depends on field|
|Other Requirements||Experience and earlier accomplishments|
|Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)||7-19%* (depending on field)|
|Average Annual Salary (2015)||$66,701-$85,971* (depending on field)|
First rule of consultants
When you start a contractual relationship between you and a business get your agreement in writing. Be as specific about the scope of your services you are to carry out and the compensation you are be awarded. Most businesses that hire consultants do 100% of their contractual duties to pay you. But many businesses might default on their obligation to pay you, citing failure to perform or otherwise. There are lots of reasons this could happen. The majority of those situations I’ve come in contact with seem to have been created by companies regretting the amount of compensation after they’ve received my services.
Second rule of consultants
There are many things you can do to protect yourself as a consultant:
1. Ensure your contract is done by a lawyer and that he makes it airtight. Fully explain the services you are to provide and compensation due. Note: Some companies that need you will pay at first and default once they get what they want.
2. Document key events in writing. As you reach milestones in your agreement, get the contracting party to sign acknowledgement that you have performed your duties.
3. Stay engaged with the process. Talk to the client you referred to Example Company and to Example Co. often. Find out how the relationship between Example Co. and the client is working. Are orders being fulfilled, how is quality of control, is the client paying for their goods, is the client looking for a different supplier to sell them goods, etc.
4. When you earn that first fee, no matter how small it is, collect it as soon as possible. It begins to document that you are or will be earning fees as a consultant in the future from that particular business.
5. Be willing to re-negotiate a contract on good deals. Some clients will ask for a price reduction and remember these company will serve as future references. Always use a Win-Win philosophy will serving you clients. And learn all you can about contract negotiating, this will help you eliminate lots of headaches and keep clients happy. I recommend reading ‘How to Become a Consultant‘ to help you get started. This guide will help you considerably.