Getting Started as a Consultant Merrimack NH
Getting Started as a Consultant
Start a Service Business Using Your Professional Skills and Talents
By C.J. Hayden
Are you cut out to be a consultant? Consulting to businesses and organizations can result in higher earnings than working as an employee, provide you with needed income if you are laid off, and allow you to work from home. But success as a consultant isn’t guaranteed. In this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn how consultants work, the essential elements of starting a consulting practice, and how to land your first clients.
The Ins and Outs of Consulting
Consultants provide their clients with analysis and advice, expert guidance, or an extra pair of hands to fill staffing gaps. Corporations, small businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies hire consultants by the hour, the day, or the project to help them solve problems, complete essential projects, or handle day-to-day responsibilities when a position is vacant.
During an economic downturn, layoffs and downsizing can create new opportunities for consultants. Companies who lay off full-time workers frequently hire consultants on a short-term or project basis to complete urgent tasks or provide missing expertise. If you’ve been laid off yourself, or fear you will be, working as a consultant can allow you to earn a good income in a time when salaried jobs are scarce.
Working as a consultant has many potential benefits. You may be able to earn more per hour than you could as an employee, with more independence, increased flexibility, and less office politics. You can often work mostly from home and have more time with your family. If you’ve lost your job, consulting will help you stay current in your field, provide you with useful contacts, and fill the hole in your resume if you decide to seek another salaried position.
But not everyone has what it takes to be a consultant. You’ll need to be a self-starter, able to work without a boss looking over your shoulder, and manage your time efficiently. You’ll have to learn and employ sales and marketing skills in order to land consulting clients. And you need to present yourself as a skilled professional with a defined specialty, as opposed to just someone who needs a job.
Step 1: Defining Your Consulting Niche
The first step to launching your consulting business should be to make an honest assessment of your professional skills and experience. What kind of consulting assignments does your background qualify you for? In what industries do you have the most experience? What type of work do you both enjoy and perform well at? If you're going to be an expert-for-hire, you have to know your stuff.
New consultants often make the mistake of approaching prospective clients as generalists who can work in many different capacities. But clients prefer to hire people who specialize in providing the specific type of help they are looking for.
The most successful consultants have a clearly defined market niche which includes both a profes...