Every day, small businesses and companies grapple with all sorts of problems. Business owners and executives sometimes have no clue as to how to handle these challenges which make their jobs more difficult, or cost the businesses to lose money.
These people need help.
And if you’re the type of person who can help these companies come up with solutions to their problems, you can have a successful career as a business consultant.
I’ve enjoyed the life of a business consultant for the last 8 years, and I can tell you that businesses of all sizes, and in all industries respect business consultants, and rely on them a great deal to help their businesses succeed.
What exact types of problems do business consultants help clients solve?
Any type of business problem:
- Reputation Management
- Increasing sales
- Improving productivity and performance
- Improving communication
- Team building
- Improving operational efficiency
- Financial Audits
- Risk Assessment
- And the list goes on and on
I know consultants who specialize in working with businesses in particular industries like manufacturing, health care, or waste management. There are other consultants who work with clients in a variety of industries, but concentrate on specific business functions, such as marketing, human resources, or information technology. and then there are those who specialize in certain industries and functions.
In my own case, I currently work as a high performance coach and marketing consultant focusing on Africa. With many western companies expanding to Africa, I get to help them reduce turnover and maximize performance through the implementation of high performance leadership and marketing principles.
There are many consultants who go on to work for large consulting firms; but there is huge opportunity for those who want to have their own business or work as freelance consultants.
If you have a decent amount of knowledge in your area of expertise, you can become a consultant helping businesses solve their problems, and earning a decent living for yourself.
And you can do all of this without any large start-up costs. In fact, you probably already have all that you need – a computer and phone – and much of your business is likely to come through low-cost marketing such as networking. This is what I do.
You can also start on a part-time basis, while keeping your current job as your primary source of income. Then as the demand for your services grows, you can commit to consulting fulltime if you so desire.
While many consultants do have Master’s degree, it is not a prerequisite. As a matter of fact, you don’t even need a degree to become a consultant. There are many independent consultants who don’t have degrees.
But they have education. And there’s a difference.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 28% of consultants do not have a degree of any kind. When I first started consulting, I did not even have a bachelor’s degree.
Those who succeed in this field of independent consulting are the ones who are constantly learning and improving themselves so they are able to serve their clients better.
The bottom line here is, if you have the ability to solve a business problem, and are confident enough to sell your services to senior management, you will get projects.
If you want to know if consulting is the career for you, here are some questions you need to be asking yourself:
- Do people frequently ask for your advice?
- Do you enjoy finding solutions to problems?
- Are you a critical thinker?
- Do you know a variety of problem-solving techniques?
- Do you enjoy doing research?
- Do you have a good vocabulary?
- Do you avoid using jargon or technical terms that others may not understand?
- Do people consider you to be a good listener?
- Do you understand non-verbal communication such as body language?
- Do you have excellent written communication skills?
- Are you comfortable speaking in front of a group?
- Do you have project management experience?
- Can you see the big picture and break it down into manageable components?
- Are you well-organized?
- Do you meet deadlines?
- Do you have experience leading teams?
- Are you ethical in all your business practices?