Interested in leaving your current role to become a consultant? Consulting can be a rewarding career, allowing you to share your wisdom while helping others. But it’s not always as easy as quitting your day job and ordering new business cards. Many professionals aspire to become consultants, but only a handful have what it takes to become successful.
So before you make the leap, consider whether you possess the following traits.
Do you have a skill that differentiates you?
A lot of new consultants try to be jacks-of-all-trades and wind up advising on subjects they don’t know enough about. If you want to successfully become a consultant, you need to pick a niche where you have real expertise. Choose a niche where you’re already considered an expert because of your current job or take time to build the knowledge you’ll need.
Be honest about where your strengths lie. The best consultants have an area they genuinely excel in. Take the time to find out what yours is so you can become the go-to person in your niche.
Do you ask good questions?
Asking good questions is crucial for being an effective consultant. Questions help you understand not just what your client is asking you to do, but the underlying issues they are facing.
For example, a client may believe they want to hire you to find ways to reduce costs. By asking questions, you can find out why these costs savings are crucial to the business. Are revenues down? Is their competition lowering prices? Asking questions will get you to the real issue you clients need help with and help you develop better solutions.
Do you pay attention to details?
Attention to detail is a crucial skill if you want to become a consultant, as one of the ways you build trust with clients is delivering error-free work. When you turn in a report full of grammar, spelling or calculation errors, clients will question whether you work was thorough. When your deliverables are meticulous, a client is more apt to believe your recommendations are solid.
Are you reliable and trustworthy?
A consultant needs to do exactly what he or she said they were doing to do when they said they were going to do it. Reliability comes from being self-directed. Know how to plan your day and manage your time. Set long-term and short-term goals, stay on task and be organized.
Demonstrating dependability will help you build trust and credibility with clients. And the more you build trust early on, the more opportunities you will be given in the future.
Do you know how to say no?
It’s common for new consultants to worry they won’t have enough work. That worry sometimes leads them to offer extremely competitive rates. Low rates might make finding clients easy, but if you fill your hours with low-paying clients, you’ll never be able to grow.
This is why you have to know how to say no. Don’t offer big discounts just to attract new clients. Watch out for scope-creep on projects so you’ll get paid for additional consultations. When you find yourself getting too busy to take on new projects, it’s time to raise your rates.
Do you have what it takes? If you believe you’re ready to make the move and become a consultant, talk to Parker + Lynch Consulting to see how you can benefit from more flexibility and control and what to expect from a financial perspective.