Are you an expert in your field? Have you established a large client base? Do you see yourself as a self-starter? Maybe you are considering venturing into something new and starting your own consulting business, or aspire to be added to the rolls of a major company. Learn what you need to know before making the leap.
If you are considering becoming a consultant, make sure that you are a good fit for the role! Consultants are experts, whether that expertise lies in management, marketing, finance, engineering, or other areas. Firms will hire consultants to provide expertise for a particular business problem. Depending on the industry, a degree or license may be required of the consultant. A consultant’s pay depends on factors such as field, industry, education level, and work experience.
Compared to working for a company, owning your own consulting business can provide higher pay, tax advantages, the ability to meet different kinds of people, and the luxury of being your own boss. Conversely, this job also comes with the drawbacks of uncertainty in regards to revenue, staff shortages, lack of medical benefits, and high financial risk. The Consultant Journal website identified the following qualities as being important for independent business consultants:
If you are interested in securing a job with consulting firms like IBM, Experio Solutions, or Deloitte Consulting, try scanning online job boards or contacting their human resources departments about required skills and qualifications.
Education and licenses/certification for consultants depend on the industry. For example, becoming a home organization consultant does not require a college degree, whereas a legal consultant requires law school and years of work experience. For some industries, training is available through the local Chamber of Commerce or online programs. States may also require licensing or certification for consulting, as is the case for political campaign fundraising.
Before starting your consulting business, it will be necessary to decide if you want to incorporate as an S-corporation, C-corporation, or LLC which are all governed by different tax laws. Incorporate first with your state, then with the federal government.
After acquiring legal status, it will be time to network and form a customer base. This can be done online, through professional organizations, or business contacts. Some suggestions are internet forums, groups, membership sites, or job sites like Monster.com or CareerBuilder.com. Once you gain membership to a professional organization, attend and participate in seminars and conferences to get your name circulating among others in the industry. Lastly, take advantage of business contacts that you have made in your previous jobs, and ask co-workers for references.