Some might say the greatest requirement of being a consultant is knowledge. While that may be true, there are many other factors that determine a successful consultant from one that is not. Not all consultants choose this line of work for the same reason – some desire more money, some want flexible hours and some need the flexibility of working from home.
I’ve put together a list of questions for myself as well as for others looking to transition to a full-time consulting practice. Answering ‘yes’ to these questions will make the transition from full-time work to consulting easier. You definitely do not need to answer yes to all of them. Reflect on each question and ask yourself whether or not it will truly impact your job satisfaction.
1. Do I have a decent credit rating? You’ll need credit to start up and complete some tasks depending on the field you choose. If you are merely an intelligence consultant, start-up capital will be minimal – cell phone, internet connection, computer – most of which you should have already.
2. Am I self-confident? You will need to sell your services and yourself to potential clients. You must come across being confident in your own abilities in order to land work.
3. Am I organized? In the early stages you’ll find organization will not come easy. You’ll need a good way of organizing your business, contacts, and appointments as well as storing and searching documents.
4. Am I in good health or financial standing? When starting your consulting practice, you’ll have little to no health benefits and possibly several months without a significant source of income.
5. Will my Family support my decision? This is very important. If your family is unsupportive of your choice of work and your ability to produce income in boom/bust cycles, you may find yourself in a poor situation.
6. Do I have the Skills and Knowledge companies will pay for? This is very important. If you are selling your services make sure it is worth it for your clients. Provide value. If they can use Google or their nephew and receive the same or better level of service, you may not be in business long.
7. Am I a self-starter? Can you get out of bed in the morning and start work without any motivation or supervision?
8. Can I work long and/or unconventional hours? Much consulting work results in long days or projects that command a large chunk of your time. Your family may have to adjust to your erratic schedule.
9. Can I deal with all types of people? You may deal with people you do not like or get along with. They may be your clients for months at a time, and if you want referrals and repeat business, you may not have a choice but to take any clients you can get.
10. Can I estimate and manage my time effectively? One of the most difficult parts of consulting will be to estimate job costs and the time-frame. If you estimate too high on costs, you can lose the client. If you estimate too low, it may not be worth your time. If you estimate your time-frame high, you may end up with free time after a job and nothing to fill it with. If you estimate the time-frame too short, you may run into the scheduled start of another client’s work.