Become a Successful Consultant

Being a consultant sounds very lucrative but there are also challenges to conquer. The consultant is a person who people go to hen they need something done but they may not know how to go about it. They can advise and as well execute.

Working as a consultant is renowned for being challenging, diverse and rewarding; this, to a large extent, explains why the field belongs to one of the most popular sectors to work in, both among students and more experience professionals. Yet, before entering the consulting market it is, for aspiring consultants, crucial to understand what the daily life of a consultant looks like. So what does a consultant do? The activities of a consultant typically consist of two main domains: external activities on a project basis and activities that support internal operations.


Once a consultant is staffed on a project then the project member can (in a simplified view) be part of two different types of engagements – an advisory project (e.g. strategy development, corporate finance, HR strategy) or an implementation project (e.g. strategy execution, roll-out of new business processes, ERP implementation). Advisory projects typically last from a few weeks to a couple of months, while large implementation projects, such as a global roll-out, can easily last up to a few years.

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If you are out to start a consulting business then you need to set things straight. Ensure that you have the certification and license to operate. Do you have the right academic qualifications?

What certifications and special licensing will I need? Depending upon your profession, you may need special certification or a special license before you can begin operating as a consultant. For example, fund-raising consultants don’t need special certification, although you can become certified through the National Society of Fund Raising Executives. And in some states, you may need to register as a professional fund-raising consultant before starting your business.

Am I qualified to become a consultant? Before you hang out your shingle and hope that clients begin beating your door down to hire you, make sure you have the qualifications necessary to get the job done. If you want to be a computer consultant, for example, make sure you are up to date in the knowledge department with all the trends and changes in the computer industry.

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As you start, you need all the advice you can get. You should make friends and money will follow. So build good relationships with your clients and they will stick. Find the missing information gaps.

Find a way to exploit specific knowledge gaps.

Your prospective clients likely aren’t lacking smart or opinionated talent–if they were, they would want to hire a full-time employee, not a consultant. Rather, they seek outside expertise because they’re exploring unfamiliar problems, markets, or methodologies. They need objective insight that their in-house people can’t provide. That’s where you come in.

Successful consultants fill pressing knowledge gaps. Case in point: My firm, TechSavvy, which helps customers create value and cultivate a competitive advantage on the back of emerging tech markets and trends. My clients don’t hire me to provide raw data on technology; they have plenty of that. Rather, they need help translating it into actionable strategies, creating cutting-edge products and services, or adapting businesses and brands to new spaces. So that’s the niche I try to fill.

Focus on relationships, not revenues.

This is a business based on relationships. The wise consultant always listens before she speaks. Never talk costs before first discussing your clients’ specific needs and objectives. For reasons both practical and political, few businesses actively look to hire consultants on a regular or recurring basis, so knock on many doors, make a point of keeping in running contact with connections, and above all else, maintain good rapport through your work. Reputation is everything, and it’s vital to stay on clients’ radars.

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