Here are a few things to think about if you’re considering going down that route. Or to remind yourself of if you’re already there. It’s up to you as to whether you consider them pluses or minuses!
You get to work with a range of people. Consulting really is a people business, so you get to talk to the CEO one day and the janitor the next.
You get to work with a range of companies. Depending on what you do you might be speaking with staff at an international manufacturing business one day, a hotel the next and a municipality the day after. You get to see how they work, what makes them tick, what drives them crazy and so on – fascinating if you like that sort of stuff.
You get to be entrepreneurial. You can use your imagination, put yourself in your client’s shoes and figure out what would help them. Then you can propose to do that for them.
You get to help people. Consulting should be about more than doing a task for money. You get to help people achieve their goals, advance their position in their company, be happier.
You get to charge what you like. Not always true if you’re working for a consulting company but that’s the deal if you work for yourself. So charge what you think is fair for the value you bring.
You get to invoice for your services and get paid. Nice to get paid of course but it may not be regular payments and then of course there are clients who don’t pay on time and need chasing up.
You have to balance your workload. ‘Falling off a cliff’ is a phrase commonly used in consulting circles. It means that you’ve been working so hard on a project that you haven’t had time to think about the next project. So suddenly you’ve finished project number one and have no work – and no income. Ideally you devote regular hours each week to developing business so that this doesn’t happen. Easier said than done sometimes!
You can vote with your feet. Sometimes we all come across someone we simply can’t stand to be in the same room with. Occasionally in consulting, that person may be your client. So you get the opportunity to say to yourself at the end of the project (try to last till the end, it’s way better for your bank balance), ‘I will never work with that person again.’ The couple of times I’ve done that in my career, it has been really satisfying. And if you’re a standard employee and that person happens to be your co-worker, or worse your boss, you simply can’t do that.
You can get to travel at someone else’s expense. I’ve been lucky enough to visit eighteen countries in the course of my career, all paid for by someone else – places I might never have visited like Venezuela, Hungary and even Siberia. It depends what your skill set is but there are lots of international opportunities if you look in the right places. Of course, Siberia may not be at the top of everyone’s bucket list but each to his or her own…
You get to choose when and where you work. Depending what you do, you may have to visit the client’s site from time to time. But aside from that, the client doesn’t care where you are as long as the job gets done. So if you choose to work all night and sleep all day, blitz the project for one week and then take a week off, it’s all up to you.
You have to shoulder the responsibility. When things go wrong; your computer dies at the critical moment; you realize after you sent off the report that you made a big mistake; you miss a deadline because you had to rush the cat to the vet; the dog ate your report etc etc, it’s all down to you. But when things go well it’s all down to you too and what you put in is generally what you get out.
And I could go on. Certainly being a consultant is not for everyone. I’ve worked with people who can’t stand the uncertainty of it and people who thrive on that very thing. I’ve worked with people who get sucked into it and end up working literally all the time and I’ve worked with people who limit their consulting to ten hours per week and make a great living out of it. It all depends who you are, what you want and, to a degree, what your personal circumstances are. All I can say is that I’ve enjoyed it and hope you will / are too!
As a highly experienced consultant and author of “Consulting Made Easy”, Adrian assists consultants, or would be consultants, to achieve success on their terms in their own consulting businesses. Adrian helps consultants increase their fee rates, find more clients, have more free time and have more fun.
Contact Adrian at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
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