Becoming a Consultant or Contractor


Have you ever worked with a consultant for business purposes and thought the profession might be a good choice for you? The world of consulting can be highly lucrative and even more satisfying.


Many companies hire consultants as an outside resource to come and help management with a business practice or procedure the company is experiencing difficulty with or lack staff with expertise in. One business area consultants are used frequently is for marketing or other related areas, such as advertising or public relations.


Instead of hiring a full-time staff person, or if one of the marketing staff is limited in their expertise with certain areas of marking, the company will use a consultant on an "as needed" contract.


If you think consulting is a good fit for you, the steps below will help you get started.


Getting Started


What's it take to become a consultant? Primarily, it takes expertise and experience in the area you want to be the base of your consulting business. It also helps if you have a company in mind as your first client, which oftentimes may be the company you'll be leaving to start your own business.


It's important that consultants are organized, on-time, and responsible for keeping sensitive company information private.


The list below provides more details on what you need to get started with opening a consulting practice.

  • Determine short and long-term goals of your consulting business by developing a business plan. The plan can also help you set priorities, determine target markets, set up a marketing plan, and even help you design logos, brochures, mailings and other pertinent components of starting a business.

  • Determine and obtain all the necessary licenses, including professional licenses and certifications as needed. Also apply for any business operations licenses required by your city, county, and state.

  • Setup your business documents for proposals and contracts. These are important documents to have ready for that first client. If you prepare them along with your business plan, you'll have time to tweak them and have them reviewed by an attorney before submitting to a client. It's best to keep proposals and contracts short and to the point.

  • Determine billing practices, terms of payment, and other accounting functions for the business.

  • A professional office, be it located in your home or one you'll be renting.

  • Determine staffing needs for your office.

  • Practice and continually refine your time management skills.

  • One of the many skills you'll be implementing as a consultant are networking techniques. It's one of those practices you can start using right from the minute you decide to go out on your own.

Business Areas where Consultants are Most Used


The list of types of consultants used by businesses is long and includes the following:

  • Accounting

  • Advertising

  • Career counseling

  • Small business planning

  • Leadership development

  • Engineering

  • Sales, marketing, and public relations

  • Training development

  • Human resources

  • Insurance

  • Computer programming

  • Payroll management

  • Inventory control and management

  • Writing services

  • Investment

  • Lean and Six Sigma

No Time Like the Present


While consulting is most often rewarding, being a consultant can be difficult at times especially at the beginning. The better prepared you are at the start, the better you'll be able to handle unexpected nuances such as late payments, confusing schedules, and other details that occur.


Consultants are used more and more these days, so there's no time like the present to get started.


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