Top Five Things to Know About Building a Successful Consulting Business

1) Be Willing to Work Hard and Take Risk

A solid consulting practice is built through hard work and a willingness to take risk. Treat it like a business.

2) Work in an Area Where You Have Deep Experience

Work in an area where you have deep experience and expertise. Going independent is not the time to conquer a new industry or area of expertise. People buy your experience. They hire you because you’re an expert.

3) Pent Up Demand Phenomenon

Many consultants start off with a bang only to hit the doldrums two to three years in. Don’t fool yourself into thinking your business will build itself just because you have projects for the first several months. I call this the “pent up demand phenomenon”. When I first started my practice, I was fully engaged for the first few years. I thought, “Wow, this is easy.” Then I hit a long dead zone. I realized that I had been working off the pent-up demand from all the people who knew me. I have spoken to many other consultants who have this same experience. It took me several months to develop a marketing plan and fill my pipeline. Thank goodness for zero interest credit cards! Start marketing day one and never, ever stop!

4) The Plus Side of Independent Consulting

I love being a consultant. The advantages are freedom, flexibility, control, interesting and engaging work, good pay and sometimes equity. You rarely get caught up in company politics and nearly all of your work is direct value add.

5) The Minus Side of Independent Consulting

On the minus side, there is no regular pay check, no benefits, no IT department, no $100 million start-up hit and no one to blame but yourself if something goes wrong.

Getting started as a consultant is easy. The best way to get started is to dive in.