You have been working your way up the project management ladder, have many years of valuable experience, gotten your PMP Certification and now feel it is perhaps the right time to strike out on your own. It is a very exciting time, but also one filled with anxiety and uncertainty.
Becoming a consultant has many risks that one needs to understand fully before making the first steps. It requires a financial safety net, a wealth of networking contacts to draw from and a lot of time and hard work. When running your own consulting business, you are not just providing consulting services but operating a business. You need strong salesmanship, financial, human resource, and organizational skills to effectively manage a successful business long-term.
You need to ask yourself if you have what it takes to not only manage yourself as a consultant, but also manage all aspects of the business. When you were working for a company, you had one focus: your projects. Now you are going to be The Boss and everything is on your plate. There are many advantages, such as a larger variety of work, flexible hours and independence; however, there are many things to consider before taking the entrepreneurial leap!
As you’re thinking about and preparing to take this next step, make sure you carefully consider the following points to ensure you are fully prepared.
- What is your financial situation? If finances aren’t your strong point, be sure to hire a financial advisor or accountant. If you can’t afford it, then try to take some online courses that would allow you to have a firm grasp of how to handle small business finances, maximize your wealth, manage your assets and grow your business. You do not want to risk getting in over your head.
- Establish a professional image and brand. Clearly lay out your credentials (including your hard earned PMP Certification) and accomplishments, craft a business name, build an appropriate home office space that matches your image and requirements, and produce and design quality promotional collateral and sales materials. Don’t forget to create a list of references, as your potential clients will ask for it.
- Devise a comprehensive business plan. Clearly define your vision, mission and what path you want to take the consulting business for not only to start, but for the first year, fifth year and beyond. What are your staffing requirements? Will you be working alone or hiring other consultants?
- Determine what your core market is and how you are going to attract that market and what your competitive advantage and strategies are. Are you going to specialize in a niche market like IT or taking a broader approach?
- Utilize your existing network of contacts within the industry and continue to grow and cultivate your base through a vast array of social media networking venues, meetings, associations and trade advertising, and the old fashion standby of cold calling.
- Once you have carefully considered all above factors, it is important to secure your first client before venturing out on your own and quitting your secure full-time job. Doing so will help ease the uncertainty.
If you have that “Good Salesman”’s attitude of believing in what you are offering, and feel like you have no option but to step outside your comfort zone of corporate environment, then you don’t have to worry about putting your money where your mouth is.
How to Get Better in Managing A Small Consulting Business
To help you manage your small business and at the same time earn some PDUs, we are providing a few online courses below:
- Accounting 101: http://www.pdu-courses.com/Accounting-101.shtml
- Finance Fundamentals: http://www.pdu-courses.com/Finance-Fundamentals-for-Non-Finance-Pros.shtml
- Emotional Intelligence at Work: http://www.pdu-courses.com/Emotional-Intelligence-at-Work.shtml
- Advanced Interpersonal Skills: http://www.pdu-courses.com/Advanced-Interpersonal-Skills.shtml
- Project Management for IT Projects: http://www.pdu-courses.com/Project-Management-for-IT-Professionals.shtml