If you’ve spent enough time working for the man, then you may have dreams about starting your own consultancy. This is pretty common, and for good reasons. You’ll get to be your own boss, build a bigger name for yourself, and turn a handsome profit. Although consulting can be great, there are some important things you should know before leaping in.
The first thing to remember; you’ll be trading in knowledge. I know this is a little obvious, but a lot of people seem to forget it when they quit their job and decide “I’m going to be a consultant.” Companies hire consultants for one reason and one alone: knowledge. If you can’t bring enough of that to the table, you won’t make much progress. Take a good look at your background, then double and triple check that you’re worth paying for. For example, say a company wanted advice on some IT recruiting, and they find out that you’ve never sat in on a single interview. As you can imagine, this won’t do your professional image any favours. You’re probably raring to go, but don’t bite off more than you can chew.
The second thing to consider is there may not be as much freedom involved as you might think. There’s pretty common myth that being a consultant allows you to “be your own boss”. Okay, you can choose whether or not to take the work you’re offered, but only to some extent. You set your own price, and you’ll have to rely on your own self-discipline to get results. However, I’m afraid you’ll still have a boss. In fact, you’ll have several!
The client, to some extent, will always be your boss. They expect to see results, and they own the hours you’re charging for. Of course, you’ll probably have a lot more freedom than you did beforehand. However, if you think consulting is the way to escape authority figures, think again!
The final thing to be aware of is that you’re going to hit disappointment. To be honest, this is a tip for pretty much any business owner. The course of any business in any niche is always going to be unpredictable. When you market yourself as much as possible, and still don’t get any clients, it can be a huge blow to anyone’s self-esteem. This is especially true if you’re operating as a one-man band. The important thing is letting that disappointment roll off you, and pressing forward. Everyone’s professional and personal strength is different. As I said before, just because you’re great at what you do now doesn’t mean you’ll do as well as an independent consultant. If you think you’re made of the right stuff, then go for it! Just don’t start your consultancy thinking success is easy!
If you’re thinking of becoming a consultant, then I salute you! If you think you’re ready, this could be the start of the best phase in your career. There may be a rough road ahead, but the rewards can be incredible!