So, you want to learn how to break into the consulting profession as an independent? Many entrepreneurs do. Some take degrees. Others take online courses. Many opt for hands-on experience with a large company as a starting point. No one, however, can avoid the experiential school of hard knocks.
Where You Can Learn the Business of Becoming a Consultant
Let’s admit it, few of us, at some time or other, have not dreamed of working for ourselves, of not being answerable to a boss, of being free to use our time any way we want, and to benefit from our own ideas, methods, and creativity.
This is especially the case when it comes to business consulting, where hanging up your shingle brings a rush like little else in the business world.
Having weighed up the pros and cons of either working for a consulting firm or of going it alone, you have finally made your decision: you definitely want to be independent.
But where do you go to if you want to learn the ins and outs, the nitty-gritty, the highs and the lows, the pitfalls, and the rewards, of being an independent consultant?
Common Options for Consulting Education
You have several options open to you, some involving years of academic study, others entailing practical experience at the coalface, or mastering online learning modules. Depending on your ambitions, each has its own advantages.
This is a long-term undertaking and will involve taking a degree covering subjects such as finance, business administration, business management, and/or accounting. Many consultancy firms demand that professionals on their staff hold Master of Business Administration degrees.
That being said, University study is not an essential requirement for starting an independent consultancy business. There are other learning methods.
On The Job Training
As an aspiring consultant, you could pursue an entry-level position with a private firm or government agency, or even consider an internship with a non-profit to get a foot in the door. Of course, landing a position in a consultancy would be first prize.
These are few and far between, and are usually offered by the relevant Institute of Management Consultants in your country. IMCUSA, for example, offers a 12-session course called Mastering Management Consulting. It’s designed for new industry entrants, and for experienced consultants wishing to improve their skills.
We all Attend the School of Hard Knocks
I certainly have had much, often painful, experience of this learning method. I broke out in 1997 and started my own consulting business. I had to learn things the hard way and made some very costly mistakes.
It took me years of hard work to learn how to build and manage a consulting company. I had to learn some tough lessons along the way. Thankfully I have had my share of success and now own a group of six businesses, three of which are in the consulting sphere.
In other posts on this blog, I share some of the lessons I learned along with advice and tips to those thinking of starting their own consulting businesses.
I also reveal some of the secrets to my success on another of my websites. Of particular interest to those thinking of launching out on their own would be my article “How To Become a Consultant—7 Steps”.
No matter how much you steel yourself, however, going it alone will throw up many surprises—some good, some not so good. You, too, will learn some tough lessons in the school of hard knocks.
Would a Crash Course in Consulting be Advantageous to You?
The better prepared you are, the more chance you have of succeeding in the competitive world of business consulting. I have gained a wealth of knowledge during my 30 years as a consultant, especially during the past 14 years when I have been managing my own consulting businesses.
To help you get a deeper understanding of what you are up against, and of how you can overcome the obstacles, I am willing to share this know-how by offering a crash course in business and management consulting.
If this idea appeals to you, please let me know by posting a comment below, as that will help me to assess demand for such an initiative. If enough folks express an interest, I’ll be pleased to turn the idea into reality and share my experiences in person.
Email or +61 417 417 307