For many young entrepreneurs and professionals, working as a consultant might seem like the dream. You get to set your own hours, work within your area of expertise and live the jet set lifestyle if you end up making it big. But do you have what it takes to become a consultant? More to the point, will you be able to be successful at it? Let’s find out.
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There is no other way to cut it. If you have a shy and demure attitude, you might have difficulty getting your point across, even with all the expertise in the world. In this Huffington Post piece by Sam Ovens and Richard Lorenzen, Lorenzen stresses the importance of knowing how to sell yourself as a product. And without confidence in yourself, that might be close to impossible.
Sam Ovens started promoting his consulting business primarily through speaking engagements and by building a social media presence. Without the confidence it takes to speak in front of a crowd of business owners and sell yourself convincingly, you might never be able to make it through the first stage.
Consultants have to learn how to juggle assignments and stay organized in a crunch. You also have to learn how to rearrange and balance priorities. For instance, a client could contact you to cancel or reschedule an appointment at the very last minute, which might be disconcerting if you lack flexibility.
Also, your income as a consultant is never guaranteed. You could go for entire weeks or months without seeing a client. If you don’t cope with sudden change very well, you might have issues dealing with the realities of being a consultant.
You have to be prepared to face a lot of rejection at first when starting as a consultant. After all, why would anyone trust you if you don’t have a solid track record and a reputation with proven results? This is why only the most motivated consultants get through the first barrier and end up succeeding in this business.
Knowing how to stay resilient in the face of constant rejection is a trait every consultant should have or at least develop. So, if you get discouraged easily and don’t deal well with rejection, you should definitely consider another path.
Patience is essential if you want to become a consultant. First of all, you can’t expect to get tons of new prospects overnight. Nor can you expect clients who will be ready to pay you thousands per hour for your services. Building a list of prospects takes time. You might have to offer your services for free for a while to build a reputation.
Another aspect where you’ll have to show patience is when you’re explaining concepts to your clients. Some of your clients may be slower to catch onto concepts that might seem simple to you. Not everyone is as flexible as you are. Some concepts you might be taking for granted could be completely foreign to certain people.
So, you’ll have to learn how to be tactful and respectful in your interactions. You’ll have to be willing to thoroughly dissect the concepts you present to them.
So, do you still think you have what it takes to become a consultant? If you aren’t resilient and have unshakable confidence, let me tell you right now, you might not be cut for this business. However, if you feel like you have the confidence, motivation and patience you’ll need, then go for it.
Moreover, if you’re prepared to go weeks or even months before getting your first paying clients, and also to lay out and explain complicated concepts to clients without losing your cool, then you might just be on your way to being a star consultant.