Many a successful business person has thought to themselves, “I have business management expertise, I should become a freelance business consultant”. In some of these cases they may even have successfully reached that goal. That being said, I want to offer some advice, before jumping off that cliff you had better do your homework and have a detailed business plan! Let me briefly explain what I mean.
Being an expert in a particular area is all well and good. Unfortunately that doesn’t necessarily mean your particular skill set can be parlayed into a full scale consulting business. For that to occur their has to be a significant, identifiable demand for your area of expertise. This is not to say that there aren’t legitimate prospects for small niche specialists because there are. If that is your sounds like your target market you had been come to the table with an unusually high level of demonstrable skill in your business niche. During your initial feasibility research you need to dig into all available data on your market.
Make use of the internet, it’s free and a treasure trove of valuable insight into potential market demand. Don’t just rely on business media, make use of what I like to refer to as eyeball research. Hit job websites like Indeed, Indeed and even LinkedIn. These sites can give you at least a base idea of how many employers are actively seeking consultants. You should also network… tap into your existing contacts and actively seek out new ones. Again, LinkedIn is a great place for you to make new contacts.
I’m going to cut straight to the chase here, if you do not know what a business plan (a real business plan, not ideas scribbled on a notepad) is you might want to consider staying put until you do! Trying to start a business without a well thought out plan is one of the quickest ways to fail. Again, fire up the old laptop and get researching. There is just an incredible amount of credible, accurate information and instruction available online much of it for free. Two suggestions that I was able to obtain in under 2 minutes of searching are from Entrepreneur Magazine and the other is the government’s Small Business Administration website. Devote some real time and effort to this important step.
I believe this short piece exposes some considerations you need to be taking into account when starting your own consulting business. There are others, but this will get you going. In closing I wanted to offer a short video produced by the University of Chicago that I think offers some excellent insight into just what it means to be a full time business consultant. Think about how you live your life presently and how a career change and it’s demands could impact that. Are you fully committed to the effort? If you have serious doubts you need to think very hard before taking action. I hope you find the video helpful. Come back soon for my next post.