Becoming a consultant is a project attracting more and more employees, looking for independence and having a certain expertise in a specific field. As an expert, the consultant works on specific issues within a company.
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Its mission is to provide recommendations after a diagnosis of the situation. Having a network and a client portfolio is a good start, but it is not enough to start a career in consulting. Here are the 10 essential steps to becoming a consultant.
How to become a consultant in 10 steps
- Identify area of expertise
- Determine the motivations to become a consultant
- Set goals
- Choose a target market
- Pass a rewarding certification
- Create a website
- Decide where to work
- Develop a network
- Establish a fee schedule
- Learn to say “no”
10 steps to becoming a consultant
1 – Identify the area of expertise
A consultant must have specific technical and theoretical skills in the sector in which he wishes to work. Through his past experience and knowledge, he has acquired a certain expertise.
The first step is therefore to determine the area in which he excels. For this, it is necessary to assess the strengths and strengths. They can be correlated with areas of interest, successful projects already carried out, career paths or training. This will allow you to know if he can be an authority on the niche identified thanks to his previous experiences. It can also be interesting to do a market study in order to determine a sector in accordance with its profile.
At this stage, it is also a question of identifying whether there is demand in the domain found. Without a request, the consultant will not find a client. It is therefore necessary to study the market before embarking on your own.
2 – Determine the motivations to become a consultant
Becoming a consultant requires good organization, motivation and well-established boundaries. It is not enough to want to go freelance to succeed in managing a consulting.
The reasons that lead to the profession of consultant can be numerous: the quest for independence, autonomy, the desire to specialize in a field, to deepen skills, a faster career development, the valuation of work .
But managing your own business is not easy. Some obstacles will get in the way. It is then easy to get discouraged at the slightest complication. To avoid this, it is essential to keep in mind why becoming a consultant has become part of a lifestyle choice.
3 – Set goals
The definition of objectives makes it possible to set a course for developing the consulting activity. There are, first of all, the general objectives which make it possible to set a framework: is the activity destined to be a full-time or part-time job? Does it eventually need to recruit employees? Then, it is necessary to establish objectives in accordance with immediate needs.
All must be based on the SMART model:
- Specific: they must be clear and precise.
- Measurable: Goals can be measured to track progress.
- Acceptable: they must be realistic and reasonable.
- Realistic: Goals should respond to the business model of the activity.
- Temporally defined: it is necessary to set deadlines.
These objectives are adapted according to the evolution of the activity. They can be modified or reviewed regularly, quarterly or monthly.
4 – Choose a target market
Once the field has been chosen and the objectives set, it is necessary to succeed in precisely defining the target audience. Knowing your target market allows you to know how to attract prospects to develop your customer base. But also to offer a better service to precisely meet their needs.
To do this, you just have to determine who the ideal customers are. Is it about start-up, SMEs, VSEs, large groups? It is then necessary to define their motivations, their weak points and their strong points, their daily problems and the obstacles which prevent them from evolving. The better the audience is targeted, the more the consultant can offer a service that will meet the expectations of his prospects.
5 – Pass a rewarding certification
In order to establish a certain legitimacy as a consultant, it is interesting to obtain a certification.
It also allows you to stay competitive, keep up to date with new developments in your field and prove your motivation.
These can be diploma certifications relating to specific software, skills or subjects.
6 – Create a website
To make themselves known, a consultant must create their own website, highlighting their skills and services. The showcase site is the first image given to potential customers, it must reflect the consultant’s values.
Creating a Google Profile Business card is also interesting, to appear in local SEO, but not enough. It is necessary to establish an SEO strategy to position the website in the most relevant search results. This greatly contributes to increasing the visibility and notoriety of the activity, and therefore to reaching new customers.
7 – Decide where to work
A consultant has a lot of freedom. One of the advantages is the possibility of choosing your place of work: at home, in a coworking space, in an office. The choice may depend on several factors such as the allocated budget and the need to have a professional premises for welcoming clients or appointments.
8 – Develop a network
Acquiring a substantial client portfolio is the main mission of each consultant. For this, it is necessary to develop your network through LinkedIn and Facebook groups, to participate in local meetings or conferences.
It is important to strengthen its presence in the nearby area and to talk about its services to all those who may be interested. Recommendation and word of mouth are effective tools for acquiring your first customers.
9 – Establish a fee schedule
This is perhaps the most complex task in starting a consulting business. It is essential to define its prices according to the competition, but especially the added value brought to the customers. Do not offer prices that are too high or too low, but find the right balance.
Then, the consultant must know how to manage the invoicing of his clients. There are many software programs that make accounting management easier. It is also possible to hire an accounting firm which will simplify the whole process.
10 – Know how to say “no”
At the beginning, it is customary to say “yes” to all customers and all their requirements. Only this is not the job of a consultant. He must be able to offer quality and organized work.
A consultant has the freedom to say “no” when a project is not in line with his values, when the client profile does not correspond to him, when he has no place in his schedule or when he does not can’t handle the pace. In this case and if possible, it is advisable to recommend a colleague who can then take charge of the mission. It’s a way of refusing while showing professionalism.
To go further, download this free guide to learn the questions to ask sales job candidates and identify the best sales job candidate by asking the right questions.