Maybe you dream of working from your iPad while vacationing in Hawaii. Perhaps you have a taste for the finer things like champagne, caviar and bespoke business suits.
Or, you just want to be a VIP at a TED conference.
Go ahead and dream big.
You can accomplish anything you want, if you are willing to pay the price.
But, it’s important that you realize that luxuries like these come as a reward for running a successful business. They aren’t, by themselves, the best reasons to actually start one.
Consulting is its own animal. It’s a relationship business first and foremost, and being smart simply isn’t enough.
Do you have what it takes?
Here are my six best reasons for starting a consulting business.
You should be able to say “Hey! That’s me!” to all of them before you take the next step:
1. You are positive you can improve the lives of others – Consulting is all about leaving people (or companies) in better shape than how you found them. If I asked you how you could help me, would it fall off the tip of your tongue? The world is filled with consultants who can’t explain what they do. Consider yourself ahead of the game if you have your value proposition and elevator pitch on the ready.
2. You are supremely confident of yourself — Consulting can be a lonely island, fraught with political and psychological peril. After all, consultants usually aren’t hired when everything is peachy. There will be tough situations and even tougher people. It isn’t hard to navigate once you get used to it, but you’ll have to sell by yourself and likely deliver by yourself (at least most of the time). I’m not inferring you should be cocky, just confident.
3. You are certain there’s a market of customers who want to hire you – Every business owner needs to understand his or her customers, and consulting isn’t any different. You must know who you want to sell to, how many of those buyers exist in your target market and what the financial upside looks like. If you are going to focus on HR consulting for Fortune 500 Life Sciences companies only located in Buffalo, I would advise you to rethink your plan.
4. You love what you do – Your ability to generate revenue will be tied directly to the results you deliver. That means mastering your craft by adding new service lines, skill sets or any other tricks that bring value to customers. Consultants who have the self-awareness to continually improve rise to the top. They constantly add “arrows to their quiver.”
5. You genuinely like working with other people – Make no mistake, consulting is a relationship business. You’ll have to shake a lot of hands and kiss as many babies to build your network. When you’re at the client’s site, you’ll most likely be working with a bunch of folks who are at a minimum weary of your presence. I’ve seen a lot of talented folks fail because they didn’t work on their people skills. High performers work on their communication skills constantly.
6. You have a burning desire to be successful – You’re running a business, not a charity. If you put in the time to build your status as an expert by delivering value, publishing, speaking and networking things should work out just fine. Still, there is an initial investment to build one’s cache’ and referral base that keeps the coffers full. Customers are demanding and you’ll have to work with urgency by returning phone calls, emails and texts in a timely fashion. The pace can be frenetic but the rewards are great. If your goal is to build a highly profitable consulting business then you need to revisit that goal every single day.
Do you think there are any other “must have” reasons for starting a consulting business? Let me know in the comments below!