This is a great time to become a consultant. Yes, I do realize that we’re in the worst economic downturn ever. And of course I’m aware of the risks of starting a business during a recession. But did you know that the consulting industry is actually expanding? And it’s growing in the midst of financial turmoil.
A couple of months ago, I received an email from Bill Sweeny of Resource Associates Corporation. And in this email, he stated that consultancy will experience a major growth pattern over the next 10 years. Why? As they say in the consulting industry, “when things are good they want us, when things are bad…they NEED us.”
So, I decided to write this article to help you to decide if consulting is for you. It’s safe to say that you’ve been thinking of starting a consulting business, right. I mean – all arrows point to it…you’ve read this far.
But did you know there are ways to tell if you’ll make a great consultant? Did you know that there are even alternatives to becoming a free-lance consultant? Ways to test-drive your dream job before making an all-out commitment?
Here are just seven ways (there are literally hundreds) to tell whether you’d make a good consultant:
- You have experience in consultative sales. Another word for consultative sales is professional sales. And I’ve always believed that sales doesn’t have to be an uncomfortable experience. Companies like Dancing Elephants Achievement Group have actually studied sales magnetism and what types of sales make the most money. And it’s a fact that professional salespersons make much more money and have more loyal customers than a salesman who is just trying to get over on you. If you have experience as a non-pushy sales person, you’ll want to give consulting more consideration in the near future.
- You like to solve problems. Take a quick look around you. The world is filled with problems. And people pay to have their problems solved. If you’re a think-tank and people come to you to have their problems solved, consider the consulting industry. It’s an incubator for creative business solutions.
- You know a little bit about a lot. One of my good friends, Mia, has a nickname – “the Oracle.” She knows so much about a lot of things. Personally, I don’t know where she keeps all of that information. She must have a spare brain or two hiding in a remote top-secret location. Ok, that’s a little far fetched. But she is well-rounded, to say the least. And you’ll find that a lot of consultants and coaches are very well rounded. They can explain a topic several different ways until their client has a life-changing breakthrough. And if they don’t know they answers, they will do a quick study to find them.
- You know a lot about a little bit. I’ve found that I fall in this category. I know a lot about a few topics, like how to help someone map out their next career or business move. I have the missing piece to the puzzle. That’s because I’ve devoted my life to helping people to move forward with the vision for their lives. I make sense of what they have been analyzing, putting it in perspective so they will have the confidence to move forward. But I also know enough about entrepreneurship, small business and strategic planning to speak the language of my market niche.
- You like to put teams together. I’m not a team player. But I like to coach. I’m no Phil Jackson, but I love to coach people to success. Have all the pieces? Put them together. People put the pieces together. Using their idiosyncrasies, people implement plans.
- You help these same teams to win. Have you ever started out with a group of misfits and turned them into champions? I have. And I love coaching people to success – whether it’s in music, their careers or businesses. Not only making sure that they are the best that they can be, but making sure they have the right resources and tools to win. If people win, then their organization wins. And if I’m their coach, I share in their success. It’s a win-win-win.
- You critique the way companies conduct business. Consultative salespeople have been trained to solve problems. So when they visit other businesses, they naturally pick out what’s going wrong. I have friends who will pick apart businesses like hotels and restaurants. They have an eagle’s eye to spot missing details in the quality of service and accommodations. And there are consultants in the hospitality industry that actually make their living doing just that – helping those businesses to improve their operations.
If you’re thinking about becoming a consultant, try out consultative sales. That’s a great way to test-drive your dream job.