How Much Money Can I Make?

July 12, 2016

How Much Money Can I Make?

Consultants can make a fortune, or they can barely scrape by. Surprise, surprise.

I know a couple of consultants who have set out to underprice the local market in their field. They get their work mainly by submitting very low quotes for municipality Requests for Proposals (RFPs), and they win quite a few. So they’re working a lot and earning very little. On the other hand, I know someone who works one day per week and pulls in over $200,000 per year—nice money if you can get it.

Most of us are somewhere in the middle.

In order to assess your first year earning potential it is necessary to make a few assumptions and do a few calculations. You want a good life from your consulting career, don’t you? And you want time for vacations, the family, and not working too many (or any) evenings or weekends. So let’s assume the following:

  • You work at your basic fee rate for twenty hours per week.
  • You work forty-six weeks per year (six weeks of vacation; did you ever have that before?).
  • Your basic fee rate is $150 per hour (or pick a number; yours is bound to be different).
  • So you earn 20 x $150 per week = $3, 000, and $3,000 x 46 = $138,000 per year.

This is just to give you an idea; the figure of $138,000 may seem low or high to you, depending on who you are, what you do, and so on. It’s there just as an example. Hopefully you’ll be charging based on what value you provide. And you may well end up getting a higher hourly rate and/or working more hours at that rate.

Really it depends what you want to earn at the end of the day. If you choose to work all the hours God sends, you’re likely to earn more. I’d argue that an unbalanced life like that isn’t sustainable, but to each to his own.

As you develop your business, your track record, your range of clients, and your consulting expertise, a couple of things happen:

  • More work comes to you through referrals, past clients, and so forth. So you don’t need to spend so much time getting work in the door.
  • You’re able to charge higher rates for your work.

In consulting, generally what you put in is what you get back. However, it doesn’t always come back to you immediately and there may be a delayed effect in terms of your effort. So, in theory anyway, things get easier and more lucrative as time goes on but you may have to be patient. Remember that when the going gets tough. 

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 to learn more.

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