You’ve been working for the past six years for an audit and accounting firm based in Salt Lake City. You’ve had two international postings in the last four years and have been crucial in selling your firm’s services abroad to businesses, NGOs, and academic institutions. You have accumulated a wealth of knowledge and experience on how to take these organizations to new levels of success.
You loved your time abroad because it allowed you to meet interesting people and understand how different organizations work. You have an MBA and another post-graduate degree in international trade relations. You’re single and have saved enough money on the side to go on vacations abroad three times a year. But something else is percolating in your head: “What if I start my own consulting business?”
Indeed, what if! It certainly is an exciting option. Let’s look at some ideas on how to pursue this possible new career path.
The management consulting industry in the U.S. recorded total revenue of $259 billion for 2019. Consulting firms provide services ranging from organizational development to financial accounting and from IT strategy formulation to sales and marketing. More than 774,000 businesses are doing some form of consulting work in the USA.
An estimated 53 million-plus professionals in the USA are currently doing independent consulting work. This is approximately 34% of America’s labor force.
The powerhouse quartet of Deloitte, PwC, EY, and KPMG has combined revenue of more than $148 billion. These top four accounting and audit firms, of course, employ thousands of people.
Your operation would undoubtedly be significantly smaller. But this should give you an indication of the size of the playing field.
Where to Start
Passion. You can check on various resources, whether online or offline, and they will point to this one specific word as the main component of doing consultancy work.
Experts advise that, if your primary purpose is to make money, then the business will not be successful over the long term. You need to look at where your passion lies and start from there. The reason for this is that if along the way you encounter difficulties in your business, it’s your passion that’s going to push you through to overcome those difficulties.
The main goal of a consulting business is to help organizations or people solve problems in their specific field. Your next step, therefore, is to become an expert in your craft. This does not mean prolonged formal schooling. It involves accessing resource materials like books, videos, and short courses. The goal is to be able to have that knowledge your clients would need to overcome their challenges.
Customers need to go from point A to a desired destination point B. The advice or services provided by the consultant is the vehicle that takes the client from A to B.
Your next step is to identify potential customers. You can ask for referrals from friends and former colleagues. An excellent online strategy is to become a member of Facebook groups. These pages provide a unique opportunity to discover problems people or groups are facing.
As in any business, consulting work requires that you also understand what the market needs. Discover your niche and work in an industry where your knowledge is reliable. This list is incomplete, but it points you in the right direction.