Are You Ready to Become a Consultant?
If you’re considering a new career path, but don’t want to simply go from one cubicle to another, it might be time to jump into the world of independent consulting.
The thought can be scary — no longer belonging to an organization; no guaranteed paycheck every two weeks; and maybe no health benefits. Why would you give up the security of a full-time job by rolling the dice on yourself? Here are some benefits of going out on your own as a consultant:
- Empowerment. You have total control of what projects you take on. You choose work that uses your greatest strengths and puts you in the best position to succeed.
- Variety. Don’t lock yourself into one business or industry. You can take on new challenges and learn new skills, which can lead to more work.
- Independence. As an independent consultant, you have much more freedom to decide when, where, and how much you work. You’ll need to be comfortable with holding yourself accountable.
- Networking. By working on several projects with several companies, you’ll quickly grow a valuable network of business leaders and stakeholders you can call on when deciding on your next project.
- Education. Because consulting projects are fast-paced, and you are typically working with teams, you will rapidly gain expertise from those who are more experienced.
- Career Growth. If you decide you’d like to transition to a full-time job with a company you’ve consulted for, you’ll have a substantial advantage over those with no experience with that business.
- Freedom. Although you’ll be a crucial part of the company you consult for, you typically won’t be called in on the weekend if something breaks.
Of course, there are potential downsides to being a consultant. Here are a few things to be aware of if you decide consulting may be the life for you:
- Pressure. The problem you’ve been asked to solve is likely to be of high importance with a short timeline. You’re there to fix something that the experts in the organization were unable to answer.
- Job (In)Security. Every project is temporary. Your job ends when the project is complete. You’ll find yourself thinking about future work while you’re working on your current project. You never know how long it will take to land your next opportunity. Growing your network with every job helps you keep projects in the pipeline.
- Benefits. It’s likely that your consulting contract will not include health insurance, paid time off, or a retirement plan. Health insurance premiums for individuals can be significantly more expensive than company plans, and your retirement plan won’t include matching funds from an employer. If this worries you, Harbinger Partners also offers an employment option where you can still receive many of the perks of consulting but with benefits.
So, are you cut out to be a consultant? There are specific characteristics and personality traits that will help you be successful. Ask yourself:
When you face a new challenge in front of you, are you worried about failure, or thrilled at the opportunity to do something new?
- Do you enjoy continually learning new things?
- Do you have knowledge or a unique skill that you’d like to share?
- Are you a teacher? Sharing your skills and techniques with the people you’re working with will better equip them when the project ends.
- Do you like roller coasters? Consulting on high-stakes projects can be a rush and comes with highs and lows, like most jobs.
There are many great reasons to go into consulting, and more and more people realize that they can use their skills to be a successful consultant. If you know your niche, are organized, driven, and ready to try something new, consulting may be the perfect career path.