The world is changing, where once upon a time when you left school the job you went into would likely be the job you stayed in for the rest of your life. There were the people who moved up the company structure, or the rare people who stayed in the same career but changed companies, but for the most part people stayed in the same job working for the same company. Things are certainly not like that now.
More than the fact that people are changing jobs, people are more likely to completely change their entire career and go into a different industry altogether; and they’re doing this every 10 years or so. This is part of the reason why you will see people starting to talk about the “gig economy” (see here). What does this mean to you? The gig economy is the modern term to freelance, where you don’t have a set job but may work for different companies doing a range of different things as you wish, and as they need. One option for creating an opportunity for yourself in this gig economy is as a consultant.
What Is Consulting?
The dictionary describes consulting as “the business of giving expert advice to other professionals”, but what does this really mean? More advice can be found on this website, but really once you start to market yourself as a consultant you are simply offering to help others learn the stuff you already know.
Who Can Be A Consultant?
Who Can Be A Consultant?
People often discount their own skills and abilities, but the reality is you probably already know enough to consult to other businesses that can use your expertise. You don’t have to have a PhD in marketing to be able to advise a local company on finely targeted social media, you just need to know how to set up targets in a social media account and your local audience. 20 years ago there were a lot of generalists, jack of all trades who were able to do any job in an organization, however as the world has become more complicated, more diverse, and far more connected than ever before, companies don’t need a generalist, they need the help and advice of someone who can assist them in one particular area. For example, they might already have a social media manager who makes great Instagram posts, but what they really need is someone who can specifically give them advice on how to deal with negative comments on TripAdvisor.
Getting Started As A Consultant
Although there are people who accidentally become consultants, drifting into the role from a transitionary starting point in their normal day job, most people need to make a conscious decision to become a consultant, and the get a plan together.
- Write down a list of your skills and your interests (have a look here for inspiration https://www.careeronest`op.org/ExploreCareers/Assessments/skills.aspx).
- Pick the one that you are most passionate about.
- Come up with a list of the top ten companies that you would most like to work with.
- Think about how your passion for your skill could be put to use for each of them.
- Now the really hard bit – come up with a monetary value on the service you would like to offer.
- Create your proposal.
On paper it probably sounds much easier, and the reality is that you will likely need to test your proposal and skills out on a friendly associate before developing the confidence to launch into a full consultancy roll.
Hardest Part of Consulting
The hardest part of consulting is getting started. You will likely have a few false starts as you fine tune your niche market and get some rejections from the companies you first approach with a proposal. One this has happened a few times you will probably start to look at what you’re doing wrong. It is at this point that you will discover people like Sam Ovens that consult the consultants. Just like you found, or are working towards finding, your niche, there are people who can help you make your consulting business a success.
There are people who think that you can’t be in business without a website, social media presence, weekly email list and 23/7 phone service. But there are also people who think you can’t be in business without foiled letterhead and a penthouse office. Neither are right. Once you decide you are in business, you are. Your level of advertising and marketing (which is all a website is) is purely up to you and how you feel your clients will find you. If you are only working with select clients that you personally choose, you could decide that the elusiveness may be to your advantage, or you may decide to expand your business and hire others. The world is your oyster.