Do you want to work as a new consultant, but you don’t know how to focus your career on starting this activity? After ten years of experience, I am happy to share it with you. I will tell you about my journey as a consultant and how I would approach this beginning of my career as a consultant today.
What is a consultant?
Let’s start with the basics. But, first, what is a consultant? I don’t know why you have this idea of working as a consultant, perhaps you are attracted by the lifestyle of consultants, but you should know that there are many completely different types of consultants.
Vision 1.0 is a bit outdated for me, and those consultants were people who work for large corporations who spend a lot of time on aeroplanes and work 80 hours a week like crazy, super ambitious people who want to make a career.
Although there are indeed these types of consultants, the world of consulting offers you many more alternatives.
Although you see me here with a slightly tropical shirt to be a consultant, I feel sincerely like a consultant. There are several aspects of this profession that you will touch, depending on your aspirations.
DEFINITION OF CONSULTANT
A consultant can analyze the problems of a company or a person and be able to help you solve their problems.
TYPES OF CONSULTING
The types of consulting can be varied. There are only strategic consultancies, problem analysis and resolution of these problems, but they do not implement.
This is called strategic consulting or business consulting.
And then, we have other types of consultants, more technological, who work on projects to implement these significant changes in organizations.
So, there is a strategic section, an implementation section, and a critical area, which has to do with change.
When we talk about change management, we talk about processes, we talk about organization, we talk about people and we talk about learning in general.
The world of consulting is super wide.
SPECIALIZATION AS A CONSULTANT
For me, a good consultant must specialize at some point in his career. Specialization can be of various kinds.
It may be a sector specialization, so some only work in the financial sector.
Some specialize in a specific function, only do strategic projects or work on SAP implementation projects for particular modules.
In both cases, you can mix specialization types.
It is challenging to work as a freelance consultant, to say that you can work in all possible sectors because each one has its peculiarities.
Although the method can be a more or less universal method that can be applied in any sector, in the implementation, you will indeed find people who can add more value because they have more profound sector knowledge.
Options for working as a consultant
I want to talk now about the way that exists to be able to provide this consulting service.
WORK FOR A COMPANYThe standard way is to work for a large consulting firm. However, it is a job for others, in which we have to go through selection processes, usually very hard.
If you want that strategic consulting, be prepared to have processes where there are many candidates, where the selection processes are somewhat uncomfortable.
They will test you; they will ask you stupid questions to see how you react and how you rationalize and order your ideas, your analysis of the problem they pose to you.
Sometimes they are questions that have no solution. And it is just seeing how you react to these problems that they are validating.
They are looking for people who are very committed to the idea of growing professionally. And people who have their heads in place, with analytical reasoning skills and the ability to adapt to many different environments.
It is an entirely valid route. I have explored it. I have grown as a consultant.
I have worked for almost ten years as a consultant in large consulting firms and then in internal consulting firms of large companies until I realized that I was working with numbers that did not mean anything to me.
I wanted to reconnect with people, which has transformed me into a different type of consultant.
I have stopped working for large corporations to work with people and small businesses, which has allowed me to put a much more human filter on my tasks.
- WORK AS A FREELANCER
Option two would be to work as a freelancer.
It is one of the great opportunities offered by this job as a consultant, the freedom to organize your schedule as you want, select your clients and select the projects you participate in.
So it is a super valid option and one of the best businesses to start from home.
Many one-person consultants have been serving clients for decades and live decently and frankly well.
And another way to do it would be doing this consulting work around particular knowledge you have.
Within each consultant, there is always a trainer.
The third option would be to mix consulting with training sales, whatever the format. But, again, it lends itself very well to this type of thing.
From the moment in which you have valuable knowledge for some people and know how to reach them, introduce yourself and lead them to a decision making where they want to work with you, you can teach your career as a consultant.
How to be a consultant?
Suppose you are a kid at the moment and you think you would be good at working as a consultant, and you are considering how to do it. In that case, I will give you a couple of recommendations to start this activity as a consultant with certain guarantees.
You already know that there is no definitive guarantee when you want to create your own business.
We will try to see the most brilliant pieces today to get started with this consulting activity.
- ACQUIRE DIGITAL SKILLS
For a few years now, we have been fully involved in the digital transformation of the activity of large companies and smaller ones.
And what has happened with the pandemic has been nothing more than reinforcing this completely unstoppable trend.
There will be a growing need for people capable of accompanying companies and individuals towards the digitization of commercial activity, business and life.
It is a very, very significant opportunity.
Digitization implies technology; technology implies complexity, complexity generates overwhelmed customers who do not know how to solve problems.
If you show up there with the solution, it is more than likely that they will buy it from you to quench the pain and frustration they feel at not achieving their goals.
Consider working in the digital environment, around the many new digital opportunities that may exist, both in marketing and in customer acquisition, which is a market that will never die.
Do it from the 100% digital aspect and from the side of delivery and the reform of operational processes to go from offline to increasingly online.
Here you also have many projects that have to do with learning and exciting process consulting.
So, I would choose digital skills as one of the base universes to raise my activity.
- DEFINE YOUR TARGET AND LOOK FOR SMALL COMPANIES
We are also experiencing a restructuring in the composition of the market.
Large companies that had incredible quotas will continue to be very powerful. Still, I see more small players emerge who do not have as many resources but have good money to invest in excellent consulting services.
I also encourage you to think very well about the target you are targeting.
It is much easier to start your journey providing consulting services to individuals or sole proprietorships, small businesses operating but have a shortage of resources in their organization.
Naturally, they will go to professionals to complete the fixed structure.
Consulting is democratizing.
Before, it was a thing of big companies; Now, we see such profound democratization that consulting is also a transformation in coaching.
Coaching is nothing more than the ability to do consulting for people; it is like being a consultant, in this case, in the personal facet of people’s lives.
Here we can be talking about health, sleep, nutritional consulting, and practically any subject. You can position yourself as a consultant in many niche markets.
It is easier to start with small clients. Right now, there are millions of small businesses with needs around the digital world, and there is a shortage of good professionals on the market.
This is indeed a shortcut, a hack that I will share with you. First, however, suppose you think about general things like digital marketing. In that case, if you want to be a digital marketing consultant, you probably need to invest ten years of your life in learning about all the facets that can exist in this digital world.
Being a generalist consultant does not seem very harmonious, especially young. Therefore, if you are starting, I recommend choosing a particular problem and becoming a specialist in this problem.
For example, being a digital marketing consultant doesn’t make sense; On the other hand, if you specialize in a gym consultant, manage your Facebook Ads campaigns and generate leads for the gym.
Any local business could do.
In this case, you have to master a particular process.
We are talking about advertising in a tool, Facebook Ads, for a specific type of business that has a sales process, which is usually done through a straightforward funnel that has a landing page where we capture data, and then the incorporation of a discount coupon where people then call the business to close the sale.
Suppose you also have a good idea of specializing your campaigns to a sector, all the sectorial knowledge that you will be able to develop in the management of these campaigns. In that case, you will replicate from one client to another.
When people say to me, “Frank, I can’t be a consultant because I don’t know anything,” they are false.
You know many things; what happens is that you have not decided to specialize in a specific problem and a particular target.
This will reduce your overwhelm and the impostor syndrome that we all carry inside if you focus on a specific problem that you know you can master quickly, training and practice.
I’m not saying that you will be the number one expert in digital marketing, but you can be an excellent consultant in solving a specific problem for a particular target.
In all Spanish-speaking markets, whether in Europe or America, the degree of consolidation of our market and maturity is shallow.
We will tend to a more specialized, more segmented market and, if you specialize, you will be framed in this future trend than in the digital world.
If you have this concern to add value to your clients, to spend time with them, listen to their problems and help them solve their problems, I encourage you to continue with your efforts to work as a consultant.
It seems like an excellent way to develop your professional career. I have enjoyed it a lot, and I continue to enjoy it now from a different perspective.
I have stopped serving large corporations.
I am working with small businesses and people, and I am much closer to the reality of these people because here I feel their suffering and their warmth more when they are happy and congratulate me for the work we do.
Of course, working as a consultant is a fundamental part of the well-being that I get from my profession.
At the moment, I enjoy my work because I hear some people thank me for the work we are doing and how we are helping them achieve their own goals every week.
I think this is the best definition of what a consultant is. A consultant is capable of elevating his clients and leading them to their goals, whatever they may be.