Working As A Consultant06/05/2015 18:26:56

Working as a Consultant

Consultancy is one of the most rapidly expanding areas in business today - Tom Lambert in High Income Consulting, states that the consulting industry world wide is growing by 20% each year, and will continue to do so for some years.

A high percentage of graduates are now looking at earning their living by independent means rather than being employed by an organisation.These include graduates from areas such as psychology, law, IT, accountancy, business, the different areas of medicine, engineering, physiotherapy etc. It does not matter what field you are in, there will always be organisations or individuals who will be in need of your expertise.

Because of downsizing, companies are increasingly out-sourcing for services and expertise that is not available from their own staff. Consultants bring their time and expertise to help fill in the gaps. They are needed because they have skills, experience, or knowledge not perceived to be available in-house. Companies or individuals may need help to:

  • Oversee or conduct special projects because an organisational overload requires a knowledgeable outside resource
  • Analyse existing organisational functions, operations, and results to recommend specific areas and actions for improvement
  • Be the outside resource that acts as an 'agent for change'
  • Develop and conduct training courses specific to a company's needs
  • Provide an objective third-party viewpoint on strategic planning, marketing, and other operational issues to help companies avoid pitfalls and wasted effort
  • Troubleshoot tactical issues, such as sales performance, to help improve a company's quarterly results
  • Provide technical advice in product development or manufacturing areas
  • Write articles, white papers, and technical product bulletins and manuals
  • Create marketing and promotional materials
  • Conduct computer consultations to help resolve MIS issues, including software, networking, and client-server applications and to assist in computer system hardware and software selection
  • Bring financial background and industry resources to bear to help a company resolve financial issues
  • Act as the outside resource used to provide product evaluations-including competitive analysis

 

This list is not all-inclusive. What's important is that you can take the skills you've developed and the experiences you've gained to create a challenging and successful business.


THE GOOD NEWS

A consulting practice can be all that you dream it can be. Just some of the things that it will provide you with are:

·The opportunity to put to work the knowledge that you've accumulated in your years of study and/or industry experience.

·The ability to enjoy the freedom and independence of doing your own thing.

·The possibility of achieving excellent financial rewards.

·The flexibility of living wherever you want.

·The freedom to take on those assignments you feel are stimulating and rewarding--and the option of walking away from opportunities you don't intrinsically enjoy.

·The chance to meet new people in other companies and industries.

·The satisfaction of working with the best resources you can find to get the job done.

·The ability to arrange your life around your work, if you want to, and live a much more flexible lifestyle.

 

THE BAD NEWS 

There is, however, a downside to consulting that you also need to know about.

·Consulting work can be unstable and uncertain.Clients can change their minds and their circumstances can change.This can have an impact on the job you are doing, and your income

·Consulting incomes can be unstable and uncertain.Clients can cancel jobs, they take ages to pay or don’t pay at all.

·You are more likely to become a victim to changes in the market even more directly than employees.

·You often don’t know where you are going to be in a month – so it is hard to plan anything.

·Clients can have unrealistically high expectations

·You may end up doing all the ‘dirty’ work in the business yourself

·Consulting can be lonely and isolating.

 

WHY AREN’T THERE MORE CONSULTANTS?

You need to be a special sort of person to be a consultant. You cannot be a good consultant if you cannot motivate yourself to work, or if you are too concerned about risks and risk-taking.

It can be tough being a consultant – but it can also be rewarding.You must be totally committed.Four keys to consulting success are:

  • Total commitment to making a success of your practice.If it is not there – forget it.
  • Meaningful differentiation of the services you have to offer
  • The ability to sell yourself
  • The deserved reputation for providing more value than expected

Consulting is a lifestyle you choose for your future because of what it gives you.

 

WHAT DO I NEED?

The type of practice you are intending to set up will dictate what qualifications are needed.You cannot practice medicine if you do not have the correct qualifications.

Different professions (as well as requiring a certain qualification level) may also require you to register (and maintain registration) with a relevant registration board.You may also be required to obtain some sort of accreditation.By achieving accreditation, you can then market yourself as being a quality provider.

Recognised creditability can also be gained by being a member of relevant organisations/associations.Skills can be gained from ongoing professional development offered by these bodies as well as association with other professionals.

EDUCATION

Knowledge, expertise and industry contacts can be built in any industry through studying a qualification (eg. certificate, diploma or degree) in that discipline; but the qualification alone is unlikely to equip you to be a good consultant.

Many courses teach you about the discipline and industry, but don't teach you about being a consultant. Further studies specific to consultancy are important to maximising your chance of success.

ACS offer this type of course as a 100 hour, distance education program.
Click here for details.