Could You Be a Consultant?

If you’re like many people, you are an expert at something. If it’s something others want help with, you may be able to turn your talent into a part-time or full-time job as a consultant.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of management consultants is “expected to grow 22 percent over the 2006-16 decade, much faster than the average for all occupations.”

If you’re currently employed, you might be able to add to your income by starting a consulting business from home on a part-time basis.

With low start-up costs, the freedom to do work that you love, and the potential for significant income, it’s no wonder consulting is a popular career career choice in any economy.

What Consultants Do

The University of Chicago’s Career and Placement Services defines business consultants as: “Problem solvers and advisors who contribute an objective point of view.”

While some consultants are paid simply to give advice, others provide hands-on help in their area of expertise. For example, a sales consultant might recommend a training program for a company, or the consultant might actually present the training program to the company’s salespeople.

But it’s not just business experts who can get paid to consult. Any skills you have that can help other people may be a possible source of income.

For example, if you know how to makeover people to look fabulous, you could become an image consultant. If you love traveling and know how to get a great deal, you could become a travel consultant. If you have experience planning weddings, you could become a wedding consultant (also known as a wedding planner).

If You Are Currently Employed

If you are currently employed, here are some questions to consider before starting a consulting business:

  • Should I quit my job and start my consulting business on a full-time basis?
  • Should I remain at my current job and start a consulting business on the side?
  • Would my employer let me keep my job on a part-time basis so I could be available to meet with clients during business hours and have a secure source of income while I’m getting my business off the ground?
  • If I leave my job to start my own consulting business could my current employer become one of my clients?

What Kind of Consultant Could You Be?

If you’re interested in becoming a consultant, but you’re not sure what people would be willing to pay you for, start by doing an inventory of your skills.

To do an inventory, you simply list the skills you have that many other people do not have. Your skills, which might also be called your talents or unique abilities, are the things you know how to do that other people need information about or need help doing.

Virtually all of us have unique abilities. The key is to discover which of your abilities are sufficiently in demand for you to get paid for your consulting services. The way to discover which skills and knowledge you have that others want is to notice to the feedback you receive from the world around you. So here are some questions to ask yourself:

What do you receive compliments about? Maybe friends tell you they admire your ability to plan a great party. Maybe co-workers have commented on your organizational or sales skills.

What do people seek your advice about? An excellent way to discover which of your skills are most marketable from a consulting point of view is to examine which ones people seek your guidance about. If people frequently ask your advice or want to “pick your brain” about something, chances are you have knowledge that others are eager to acquire.

What do people ask you to do? Are you frequently nominated for particular roles in your workplace or among family or friends? Even if you do not see yourself as especially talented, the people in your life are constantly showing you the talents they see in you.

Maybe it’s time you started getting paid for those talents.