Are you looking to have a lot more control over how much you work? Do you want to pick what assignments you take on?
Maybe you just need a career change after doing the same thing for years.
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, becoming a consultant might be a good fit for you. A consultant is often their own boss, and are partners with their clients. They get to choose what fields they will dabble in and how much work they want to take on.
People may think that to be a consultant you need to have a fancy degree, but that’s not the case. This article will show you how to become a consultant.
What Is a Consultant and What Do They Do?
The dictionary definition of consulting means to be “engaged in the business of giving expert advice to people working in a specific field.” So basically, a consultant gives advice to people.
You have to be an expert in a particular field. This way, people will be willing to pay you for your advice. Your advice will help solve their problems.
Different Fields Consultants Can Go Into
There are different industries that can benefit from a consultant. Because of that, there are many different types of consulting.
1. IT/ Technology Consulting
You usually call an IT person if you have a problem with your computer. Well, an IT or technology consultant is a bit like that. Though they take on bigger projects.
While you need help getting your computer to run faster, a company may need help storing large amounts of data and making sure everything runs smoothly. The consultant would tell them how to go about this, and even look through all the data they have to pick the best way to solve their problem.
2. Operations Consulting
An operations consultant helps businesses with manufacturing. Their assistance can be used anywhere from reducing defects in an assembly line to streamlining customer service.
3. HR Consulting
Companies would fall apart without having a good HR department. HR is where employees go to air grievances, share concerns, and other things that can make work tedious and difficult.
HR consulting has become a popular type of consulting. Business owners like it because it helps boost employee productivity.
HR consultants create employee-friendly policies, guidelines and mandates, improve performance management systems, figure out how to streamline performance-based incentives, and more.
4. Marketing and Sales Consulting
A business may need help in understanding which promotional channels to use and how budgets should be spread across these channels. A consultant would help them with that and more, such as how big the marketing and sales teams should be, how to increase the sales team’s reach, and how they should track the performance of their implemented strategies.
5. Real Estate Consulting
They help with valuations and any legal issues or documents that are property-related. They also help with locating and renovating or building the best possible office, factory, or residential space at the lowest price.
6. Engineering Consulting
An engineering consultant helps with designs and building plans. They can help with things ranging from creating a safe and sturdy bridge, to aircrafts, to anything else their client need.
They can work for cities, companies, or individual clients.
7. Design Consulting
Design consultants help with the design of new products. They can range from phones to musical instruments. They even help with civil structures like stadiums, theaters, hotels, and fancy homes.
8. Pharma Consulting
These consultants help with the launch strategy of new drugs, the marketing of drugs, and pricing/co-pay in collaboration with medical insurance companies.
9. Strategy Consulting
They help organizations figure out any problem in their operations and work strategy to improve their performance. They do this through the analysis of existing problems and developed plans.
10. Legal Consultants
These consultants identify, prevent, and solve legal issues facing a company or a client. There are different specializations in this field like legal consultation in employment, banking, contracts, corporate, intellectual property, tax, real estate, information technology, or trust.
11. Social Media Consultant
The role of an internet marketing agency or social media consultant is to help companies increase traffic to their website by methods of search engine optimization, content, and social media marketing.
They build a strong online presence for the client, as well as build their brand online using various social media platforms.
12. Financial/ Investment Consultants
Financial consultants are licensed professionals trained to help individuals or organizations make smart financial decisions. They use info about market trends, stock values, taxes, and other economic factors to help a client decide if an investment is worth it or not.
How to Become a Consultant
There are a few simple steps for how to become a consultant. Follow these steps and it should be a breeze to get started.
1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
While it’s not necessary, a degree will give you an extra edge. You can get a bachelor’s degree in whatever field you want to enter. That could mean law, business, design, and more.
2. Identify Your Area of Expertise
Think about what your strengths and expertise are. They don’t have to be what you are good at currently at your job. Maybe you have a side job that you are so good at that you can make into a full-time job.
Maybe you’re good at closing difficult deals, for example.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do I have a unique point of view?
- Do I have the experience necessary to be authoritative in this field?
- Is there demand for this service?
3. Set Goals
Setting goals will keep you organized and help you know what you are working towards. Do you want to be a freelancer or a full-time employee? Do you want to start your own business? Will you expand that business?
These are the type of questions you should be asking yourself.
Once you know what your broad goals are, you’ll make smaller ones to get started. To help with that, you should use SMART which stands for:
- Specific: Clearly define what you want to accomplish
- Measureable: Identify targets and milestones to track progress
- Attainable: Keep goals realistic and manageable
- Relevant: Set goals that fit with your business model
- Time-Based: Identify deadlines for your goals
You will probably have to revisit your SMART goals as your business grows and expands.
4. Build a Website
Having a good website is a necessity in this modern age. Everybody uses the internet to find products and companies. Most people won’t even consider you as a business if you don’t have a website.
5. Get Certified
Certifications will give you an edge depending on what industry you are hoping to break into.
For example, if you’re a consultant for medical sales professional, try getting accreditation in one of HIDA’s Medical Sales programs. See what other certifications you can get in fields like design, social media, and business.
6. Choose a Target Market
Once you decide what field you want to get into, you need to know about who your target audience is. You can do this by asking yourself a few questions.
- Where is my target audience located?
- What are their biggest pain points?
- Who is competing for their business?
- Am I targeting startups themselves or the individual sales managers?
- What motivates my target audience?
7. Decide Where You’ll Work
Before you get to work, you need a workplace. Decide if you are going to work from home or if you need to get an office. Think about what you can afford, how your workplace will enhance your business, and why you need the space.
Referrals are a vital way to grow your business, but they aren’t the only way. You will need to promote your business yourself. Use sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, write and share blog posts highlighting your expertise, and go to meetups or conferences in your area.
9. Set Your Rates
Deciding what to charge may be the hardest part of starting your job as a consultant. It’s tempting to charge less than your worth because you don’t have proven results yet.
Check out what other consultants in your field are charging. You can find them through LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and even just a general Google search.
This will help you decide what is a fair price for you and your potential client.
Now You Know How to Become a Consultant
Consulting is a great job option if you want something new, want to use more of your skills, or want to join a field you love. While it’s tough to start, it’s worth it in the end.
While this is an overview, it gives you a great place to start. Check off each step that you’ve accomplished and do your own research on parts you want to know more about. You’ll be running your own consulting business before you know it.