Consulting is an attractive career option for many who enjoy a more creative workstyle and entrepreneurship; you can work for yourself and not have to worry about the shifty job market, but be prepared. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that just because you are self-employed, you don’t answer to a boss. Your customer is your boss, and if you don’t deliver a quality product and meet their expectations, you will be fired. A consultant is someone who has a very flexible work schedule, but you still have to be professional and deliver a premium product.
Steps to Assess Your Readiness to Start Consulting
Before you set up shop, be honest with yourself. People hire consultants because of the expectation that you have specialized and in-depth knowledge about something. If you don’t actually have this level of expertise, you won’t get very far. Along with this, you can’t sugar coat your advice; you can never help a client if you just tell them what they want to hear. So you have to be capable and comfortable with presenting the facts as you know them.
Consultants must be people-oriented, since the primary skills of the job are to talk to others, understand their difficulties, and offer advice. Remember, too, no business will hire you unless they have problems they can’t solve on their own, and people with problems tend to be unpleasant, so you will spend a lot of time managing the negative emotions of others.
You must have confidence in yourself; if you don’t believe your services have value, neither will anyone else. Your demeanor should be professional but solid, and be sure to charge for your services at a level commensurate with your capabilities. For most people, this means charging more than you think you ought to, because people always shortchange themselves when measuring their own worth. What’s more, perception of value is related to cost. The more you charge, the more competent you will be perceived to be, and you will attract better clients.
If you have real expertise and enjoy coaching others, consulting can be a rewarding career. A professional who can add value to a business will be worth the price, and you can take pride in your accomplishments.