Many thanks to everyone who responded to part one of this series. I didn’t expect to write part deux so soon, but your comments have inspired me.
When I started my company, I found the consulting community to be very welcoming. Yes-there will be consultants who view everyone as a competitor. But don’t focus on those. Someone told me early on in my consulting career, “There’s plenty of work for everyone” and I’ve found that to be true.
So, if you are interested in consulting, talk to consultants. Before I took the leap, I bought breakfast/lunch/dinner/coffee for anyone who would share their story with me. I learned a lot. Here are a couple of pointers from those conversations.
Market yourself and your business every day. One of the people I interviewed said the biggest mistake they made was getting a large client early on and then getting comfy. When that big client went away, they were in a major bind. I try to do something every day to market my company. It might be a person I meet or a presentation I give but I do something.
If you are going to be a consultant, be one. Don’t consult as a hobby. One of my initial obstacles was convincing people this was my job. Not “I’m just consulting until I find a real job.” Once people realized that I wasn’t consulting as a hobby, it changed the way prospects looked at me and the assignments I received – both for the best.
It’s better to say no than take a gig just for the money. As tempting as it may be to take just any lucrative assignment, if you can’t do it well…don’t do it. The same applies to assignments that don’t follow your business model. There are things that I can do…but they don’t follow my business model…so I pass them along to other consultants. The client will respect you even more for introducing them to the right person.
If you’re ready, go out there and build a network of consultants who can encourage and support you. And remember, in addition to being that expert in your field, you need to be a business person. Because the success (or not) of your company depends on only one person – you.