Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Do you have the “Right Stuff” to become a Consultant?

image This article was written by Jack James, SCORE Orange County Management Counselor

Many employees think they can become consultants if they happen to be laid off. Not so fast! It’s a tough business to get into and get sufficient work to maintain enough projects to be profitable.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

What are 5 services you can provide that clients would pay for? Who would buy your services? Do you have a marketing niche for services? You may think what you service offerings are great but if nobody has a need, you’re wasting your time. Market research is necessary to verity your services are marketable, in demand, and not already being provided by your competitors.

Can you market yourself? Do you have the confidence to sit across from a client and convince him/her that they need your services? If a client perceives a weak presentation, no work will be forthcoming. Can you handle marketing rejection?

I recommend you prepare a 3 fold brochure which briefly describes your services, lists your credentials and how to reach you. Sign up for a low cost web site.

Develop a marketing plan. How specifically are you going to market you services? Networking gets 90% of project work, so describe exactly how you are going to network.

If at all possible, try to moonlight your services for a year, and don’t quit your day job. Purchase a copy of “Consulting for Dummies”. It’s a great book for start-up consulting practices, and study it.

These observations are not meant to scare you away from consulting. They are meant to pose the tough questions to ask yourself before you commit to this business. Preparation of a good solid business plan is the best way to expose risks and form realistic expectations as to what you can expect from your new business. If you need assistance with a Business Plan, you can schedule face-to-face counseling with a SCORE professional and/or attend a SCORE workshop on Business Planning. For more details, visit our website at

Consulting offers you an opportunity to perform the work you love, make a good living, and be your own boss.