The Help Files: How to Start a Consulting Business

Hustle, by Garrhet Sampson on unsplash.comMonday mornings are bad. Ask the Carpenters, who sang about it in 1971, or most anyone who commutes to work in an office. You generally need to be there at your desk by a certain time. If your boss is in by 9 am, it behooves you to be there before she arrives so she can see that you’re already hard at work.

Some office workers have the 9 am Monday staff meetings. Maybe one of your more officious Senior VPs stands outside the door, conspicuously looking at his watch, ready to close the conference room door at precisely 9:01 am. Running late because your kid is sick or there was a pileup on the turnpike? That’s just too bad.

Tired of rigid corporate rules? Want to make your own rules and do things your own way? Growing weary of company policies that are set in stone? Many office workers with a burning desire to work for themselves do exactly that — work for themselves. Why work for The Man when you can work for yourself? No, I’m not talking about freelancing (that’s for another column). I mean consulting.

When you become a consultant, you specialize in solving client problems or giving professional advice. For example, if you’re good with numbers, perhaps you can become a Certified Public Accountant and help small businesses solve their cash-flow problems. That’s just one kind of consultant among hundreds of fields of expertise. So, how does the average person become a consultant? Glad you asked. Here are some tips and advice from the pros.

How To Start Consulting On The Side

I know when I first heard about consulting, I was intrigued. I knew people sometimes became consultants, but never knew how they went about it. Liz Ryan lays out the steps involved and tells you how she herself got started in part-time consulting. 

How to Start a Consulting Business

What does a consultant do? What do companies hire consultants to do? What should you think about before making the leap into consulting? What kinds of businesses make good consulting businesses–this post lists 20 of them. This article from Entrepreneur.com lists 20 businesses and answers your biggest questions.

Looking To Start Your Own Business? Become a Freelance Consultant

Want to become a consultant? There are certainly pros to running your own business. But you also need to remember the cons too. You’d lose all your corporate perks, provided you have them at all. You’d be in charge of getting your own insurance and retirement plan, and managing your income taxes. Dan Maxwell, Jr’s column is certainly informative, but I’m not sure why he had to give up his friends when he began consulting. Setting high standards is a good thing, but his experience sounds odd to me. Maybe he got “too big for his britches.” Who knows?

6 Facts You Need to Know About Starting Your Own Consulting Business

At first glance, consulting sure seems glamorous, doesn’t it? Own your own business, meet new clients, “do lunch,” help them out, reel in high consulting fees. As in most things, however, doing the job is a lot different from watching someone do the job. Clients can be ill-tempered. They might be angry because they need help. They might be angry because they don’t like your ideas and don’t want to pay your fee. Hey, they might not even like YOU, either. It happens. Consulting is hard in part because some clients are going to be difficult. Okay, that’s one fact. For the other five facts, read Neil Patel’s post.

Cultivate the Consulting Business of Your Dreams

Having a “dream job” is all the rage now on social media. A dream job is the one you’d do even if you didn’t get paid for it. For some, this dream job means consulting. If you run your own consulting business, you have a skill to sell. This skill can be anything from accounting to web design. Hard skills don’t tell the entire story, though. Soft skills are critical for complementing and augmenting your hard skills. If you’re a crack mathematician to whom numbers tell a story, but you’re chronically late for appointments, your string of clients is going to dwindle. If you’re great with numbers and you’re always five minutes early for appointments, you’ll land more clients. Read Imran Uddin’s post to learn more soft skills that you’ll need as a consultant.

Have some tips or tools to share with your fellow technical communicators, information developers, and content creators? Let’s network! Drop me a note: HelpFiles@TechWhirl.com. Follow me on Twitter, connect with me on LinkedIn, circle me on Google+, or email me at craig.cardimon@gmail.com. I enjoy connecting with others in the industry.

Craig Cardimon

Craig Cardimon wears many hats and loves all of them -- technical communicator, content curator, and freelance copywriter. In his not-so-copious spare time, he reads, writes, runs on the local trail, and watches way too much "retro" TV.

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