My Homepage

How to Get Started as a Consultant

Last updated Might 26, 2009 6:30 PM EDT

You've been laid off and so are coming to the sobering

realization that will it's going to consider a lot more than your typical 3 to

six months as well as so to discover a fresh job -- why not really a lot longer. Unemployment

checks aren't much help, particularly thinking about what you're

paying with regard to well being insurance, so in which you need to commence earning profits soon. The

solution for most experienced specialists who've gotten the actual axe --

oftentimes simply because there is nothing else obtainable -- is

to become a advisor in the field you've been kicked out of. Nevertheless if

you've never worked as getting a consultant before, you're probably

a bit unsure concerning how an individual can begin as well as make it pay, even as you carry on to

look regarding full-time opportunities. Here's how to complete it right.

Do Your Current due Diligence and also Program Ahead

What's your current niche? Companies usually turn in order to "name-brand"

firms for general management and strategic consulting, yet recognize that

specialized projects frequently need individual practitioners. Therefore a great deal of

the artwork regarding consulting will be to recognize an original marketable location of know-how that

fits your own experience. so pick one, as well as contact every consultant you've

ever worked with, and every peer who has ever hired one, as well as question them how much

work there's on the market inside the location you've identified and regardless involving whether it

pays adequate being well worth the effort. David Mark did just that right after he got laid

off coming from his job as being a food research scientist several years back along with discovered

there was obviously a real need for nutrition scientists which knew how an individual can function with

marketers. "There had been maybe 50 people who match which description,"

he says. "After that, it absolutely was merely a few performing your math."

No enterprise may be successful without having careful strategic planning --

and the enterprise together with one employee is no different. Veteran consultants emphasize

the have to develop "rules associated with engagement" early in throughout your

decision-making process. What are your workplace hours? (Yes, among your joys of

consulting is actually versatile scheduling -- but if customers tend to be chained

to the 9-to-5, help make positive you're obtainable about their own time, too.) Your

hourly and daily rates? (You may wind up charging for each project, but some clients

will need in order to know your current rates, consequently figure out any fair average if you had been on

salary somewhere, along with add at least 50 percent). Just what about your current compensation

and reimbursement policies? (Half of your charge upon engagement, half upon delivery

is common, as is reimbursement inside thirty days with regard to approved expenses upon

presentation associated with receipts.) And Also just simply how much are an individual currently prepared to travel?

Answering all of those concerns is crucial not merely to your business, but

also your own lifestyle.

Gather the particular Correct Resources

If you get done your homework properly, anyone must have

a distinct feeling of your own market. Next, a person must decide the actual resources you'll

need to end up being able to efficiently deliver upon client expectations. The initial priority can be building

a secure monetary base from which for you to operate in order that you are able to concentrate on

winning and servicing clients, instead of in paying associated with the rent. Ideally, you'll

have accumulated the cushion associated with three months of one's previous salary for you to tide you

over until a payments start coming in; turnaround occasion for payment

from even Fortune 500 companies runs an average involving 60 in order to 90 days. If a person don't

have much saved up, bite the particular bullet: cut again on your living expenses so

that you tend to be able to weather an extended period of time associated with small earnings without having heading deep

into debt.

Checklist Equipment and also Infrastructure You'll Need

Besides money, this is actually what otherwise a person should have:

A devoted house office. Actually if you like to be mobile,

you'll need a base regarding operations regarding organization and also storage.

Connectivity. Make sure you have the separate function phone

with voice mail, as well as broadband Internet because your perform will almost

certainly involve transferring large files back again as well as forth.

Storage. You'll want to aid keep total files of

every client along with project, digital also as physical. buy a big hard drive

(500 GB or perhaps more) which allows one to mirror the entire contents of your

computer, along with back up religiously.

Collateral. Enterprise cards, any current, consulting-specific

resume, plus a Net presence -- the simple blog or skilled profile on

a networking website -- are usually necessities. However don't worry about

printed materials: creating digital documents which you may customize and also update

makes more sense.

Get (Re)Connected

Once you've got the proper pieces in place, the actual next

step will be advertising yourself. When you've left the former business on

good terms, these people may well end up being your first client. However even when you have a new customer

out with the box, developing any new-business pipeline will be essential, as well as that means

networking. "When I sensed some thing within the wind with my company, I

started reconnecting effortlessly my contacts just to be refreshing inside their minds,"

says Kim Lopez-Walters, who launched her practice as a expert specializing

in food-related new product development right after being let go last July. "When

the layoffs came, a buddy had previously contacted me asking if I was interested

in carrying out project work." Also if your contacts don't have

work for you themselves, they'll end up being your really best source of the

consultant's bread and butter: referrals.

Hot TipOther Ways to get Individuals Very first Jobs

First-hand contacts will usually be best, nevertheless registering with

agencies in which have a consultant-staffing practice could generate initial

opportunities. Robert Half, with regard to instance, provides consultant placement services

for accounting

and finance, advertising and artistic work, and


management, among additional industries. professional organizations such

as the particular Institute

of Management Consultants will offer connections with peers who can

give a person guidance and, potentially, business. Additional methods to create a project

portfolio as well as create leads regarding bigger company contain marketing about online

consulting marketplaces like as well as


(and yes, even Craigslist), although compensation on web sites like

these is actually likely to be lower when compared with you'd obtain in contrast to customers you

secure by means of placement services or perhaps via your personal personal network, as well as the competition is

sometimes stiff.

Balance Consulting work together with Your Own Full-Time Job


If you're primarily looking at consulting as an straightforward method to

earn more money as well as keep busy as long as you're seeking for a full-time

job, you'll want to create certain a person carry on devoting enough time to

your search. Typically, that's ten for you to 15 hours weekly with regard to research,

interviewing, along with networking. "If you cannot manage in least

that, your own occupation research is actually likely to wither up as well as die," says Caroline

Ceniza-Levine, a career coach along with six Figure Start. Fortunately, any great deal of this

research as well as emailing regarding contacts can become achieved right after hours and additionally on weekends.

Sometimes, of course, consulting can be just the foot throughout the

door you will need having a prospective employer, serving like a critical "audition"

for any full-time job. However, you shouldn't assume that will getting

upgraded to some full-time position is definitely an option -- right after all,

companies usually hire consultants precisely simply because they don't want to

add full-time staff. "You get to complete your current due diligence to see if

they're available to hiring, after which you have being obvious regarding your

intentions," says Ceniza-Levine. "You may well wait around the few

weeks for you to demonstrate the value, nevertheless then you've for you to raise the fact that, hey, if a

permanent situation became available, you would be interested."

The LegaleseContractor Law

If you're consulting for a company with all the hope

of on-ramping in in order to a permanent position, keep inside thoughts that it's a

violation associated with labor law to retain contractors indefinitely without hiring them

as salaried employees. Within 2000, Microsoft ended up being instructed to spend a record $97

million following losing a new class-action lawsuit filed simply by contractors that found

themselves inside "permatemp" limbo. However, this also means

that companies haven't any selection nevertheless to position limits about the duration involving consulting

assignments that stay with home with regard to conventional hires. In case an assignment should go longer

than 6 months, companies will want one to possess various other clients for you to demonstrate that

you're really an independent contractor, thus even though you're

looking with consulting as becoming a temporary move, a person may must begin constructing up a

client list.

Leave These People Seeking More

The greatest marketing tool can be a happy client: they'll

hire you once again -- along with spread your word. In Which indicates delivering projects

to scope and on occasion will be critical, so you'll get to hit the actual ground

running through day one. "You don't get yourself a 'trial

period' throughout consulting," says Lopez-Walters.

Though it is actually necessary to become obvious in advance about

expectations, heading just any little higher than and also past the contact will pay off. "You

want for you to avoid project creep, however you ought to always be prepared to put the bit more

in the particular pot," says David Mark. "That type of goodwill leads

directly for you to repeat business." With Regard To in which reason, appropriate follow-up after

every project can be a new must, to always be able to obtain feedback and also assess future


And following you've established a regular flow of

business, you'll end up being able to hopefully commence to consider pleasure from the actual advantages of becoming your own boss.

"You can't beat the flexibility," says Nancy

Fritz, whom this past year celebrated the girl tenth 12 months like a expert specializing in

research strategy along with group facilitation. "When a recruiter calls me

and says, 'Hey I have a [full-time] place that's perfect

for you, large bucks,' I say, 'Yes, and can it let me take

off my shoes and set my feet up on my small large furry dog?'"

? 2009 CBS Interactive Inc.. Just About All rights Reserved.