Entering the consultancy field can be frightening at first. Where does one begin though?
In 2016, I took the momentous decision to strike out on my own. I had been toying with the thought for quite some time. I had zero idea of what it meant to be a consultant. I would read of folks in my industry and within my network sharing their experiences and talking of how life had changed for the better once they had moved out of the shackles of their corporate lives and had become independent.
It all sounded rosy and good. The stories of successes and new insights were very encouraging and further fueled my desire to give this a shot.
What is the starting point? Where do you begin? How do you take those initial steps? What are the guardrails that you need to take care of? Sharing some of my perspectives here…
Begin at the beginning
It is always good to begin at the beginning – make a note of what you are good at. After all, you can be a consultant only in a field that you are well versed with, are an expert of and have a flair for. So, begin from there. Make a list of your attributes, skills and accomplishment. Step back and look over that list – what stands out? What is the key skill and what other skills are part and parcel of this one?
For instance, if you have been a communicator and know your art well, of course consultancy in strategic communications becomes your first choice. But do not stop at that.
Wears multiple hats
Jotting down your list of attributes is an absolute essential. You can be a content writer. Or an event organizer. If your skills are in media relations than you can pitch your story for PR and tasks associated with it. If internal communications is what ignites your passion, stick to that. Today, more than ever, employee engagement has become the focal point within organizations. And innovative and creative ideas on drawing up multiple touch points with employees is a skill most sought after. Then there is branding and marketing – often corporate communicators are adept at handling the crossover from pure communications to marketing communications. This is because in the end, it is all about telling the right story in a simple and most impactful manner.
An interesting offshoot of being a communicator is the edge the profession has when it comes to advocacy. Communicators are natural advocators. My earlier writings on this can be read here and here. If you have the skill for crafting the right messages within the right context, then as a communications consultant the world is your oyster.
This is a no-brainier really. Craft that perfect pitch for yourself before you pitch your client! You are now an entrepreneur! I am often perplexed at communicators who say they are not active on social media. Polish your resume, share with your network, talk of your new avatar on social media. List yourself on Angel List and other relevant websites that cater specifically for entrepreneurs. Be seen. Be heard. And you will get known.
Share your dream
I remember reaching out to many freelance consultants within my network and asking them about their journey, what clicked, what did not. Did they enjoy it? Did they ever regret it? It is always good to reach out to multiple people with varied years of consultancy experience and pick up on their best lessons. Veteran consultants have a complete different set of experiences that you can learn from. Those who have entered the field recently can guide you on the process, documentation, GST registration (many organizations ask for this from their vendors), and most importantly, the unspoken rules of the game!
The entrepreneur journey may not always be easy, but it is a highly invigorating roller-coaster ride on its own. Once you have made up your mind, go for it full throttle. There are no half measures. Give your best and the best shall come to you
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