By January 2, 2015 0 Comments Read More →

Lost Your Job and Want to Become a Consultant? Think Again

Lost Your Job and Want to Become a Consultant? Think Again

So you've lost your job and decide to become a consultant.

Many professionals try this route and most end up giving up and going back to a corporate job when the opportunity presents itself.

It's not that you aren’t smart enough to be a consultant, it's just that consulting is like running a business, not being an employee. And not everyone is equipped to run a business.

First, you have to be entrepreneurial, which includes being self-motivated and willing to work hours well beyond 9-5 weekdays.

Second, you have to be a salesperson. That means not only developing your service offerings and market targets, it means creating marketing and sales material and refining your pitch. It also means finding and responding to tenders and bid requests, making cold calls and conducting sales meetings.

Third, you have to be good at what you do. Not just because you think you are good, but because you can demonstrate that you're good in a way that interests possible clients. And on top of that, you need to be able to do what you do in a completely different environment - as a consultant, not an employee.

Quite simply, you can't assume that your skills and backgrounds are all you need. Because without being both entrepreneurial and a sales person, you won’t even be able to apply your skills and abilities because quite simply, you won't have clients.

Not only that, but if you hang up your shingle after you leave a job, you’ve already fallen behind on things like marketing and sales. Like any other sales activity, there can be a long lead time before you close the deal and start getting paid.

You might get initial success by tapping into your existing network, including friends. But usually these are short-term and you’ll exhaust these opportunities quickly. And unless you continue to do marketing and sales while you're working on the first couple of jobs that came easily, your business will peter out instead.

And even if you have the ability to do the work, does your background and experience have enough depth to demonstrate to a potential client that you can be a consultant rather than just an employee? And how will you compete with other consultants who have a head start, including other established consultants like you and large, well known consulting firms.

And if you just recently become unemployed and start knocking on doors for consulting work, your potential clients will need to be convinced that you're in it for the long term and won’t pack up and leave as soon as a real job comes along.

That means you need to invest in quality business cards, not ones you print yourself at home, a relevant business name with a business email address, a logo, marketing material and even a website. And you also need to do market research, identify target markets, define your niche and then go out and sell yourself.

Then you have to do it continuously, even when you are working on projects for clients. Your sales funnel always need to be filled to keep a reasonably steady income.

So the question you need to answer is whether you have what it takes to become a consultant. Should you invest your time and energy in trying your hand at consulting or should you focus all your attention on finding a new job.

About Michel Theriault

Michel is the founder of Success Fuel for Managers. He is an author, speaker and consultant focusing on topics relevant to Managers and aspiring Managers in businesses of all sizes who want to get results, get attention, and get ahead. He is also a contributor to Forbes and AllBusiness Experts . Michel is available for speaking engagements, training and consulting. Connect with him or send an email.

Posted in: Career, entrepreneur, startup

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