Archive for the ‘Becoming a consultant’ Category

What is consulting?

What is consulting? Consulting is a career choice that offers professional or specialized advice to individuals and businesses for a fee. As a consultant, you will likely work freelance, although some consultants are employed by large corporations. A consultant may have one specialty or many. You may choose consulting as a full-time career or as a second job that provides extra income.

What types of consulting are there?

Consulting doesn’t have to be technical or complicated, nor does it necessarily require a diploma or a degree. All it requires is that you, the consultant, possess the specialized knowledge required to educate your client or perform the required services.

For example, you might offer personal consulting services. Personal consultants offer expert advice to individuals on topics like party planning, life coaching, dog obedience or home decorating.

Technical consultants provide advice on topics like home security, internet security, networking, and social media.

Professional consultants are usually specially trained or educated with experience in their field. As a professional consultant, you would provide advice on more complex topics like human resources, finances and taxation, business management and insurance.

Executive consulting is consulting at its most professional level. It provides advice on subjects like law and medicine. To consult in such fields, you must possess a high level of education, as well as extensive experience. However, not all consulting requires such specialization.

What do clients want from consulting services?

Clients hire a consultant to improve either themselves or their business. Consultants can help facilitate personal and professional growth, save their clients’ money, and increase efficiency in their clients’ lives or businesses. Consultants provide clients with information that they don’t already know, and that they don’t have immediate access to. As a professional consultant, you should leave the client satisfied with your services and better off than they were before.

What is consulting going to do for you?

Consulting is an excellent career choice if you are motivated, enjoy working with people, and prefer to work independently. You can set your own pace and your own hours. It is also an excellent way to network with clients and other professionals.

What is consulting’s future?

The outlook for consulting is excellent. As long as there are individuals, professionals, and companies seeking to improve themselves, their lives and their businesses, there will be a need for consulting services. Skilled consultants who provide useful advice will always be in demand.

Are you interested in becoming a consultant? Check out the Becoming a Consultant FAQs.

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Consulting company business plan

Consulting company business plans – Are you looking for a business plan template or a boiler-plate that will help you put together a consulting company business plan? There are a variety of resources here at Consultant Journal that will help you in writing your consulting company business plan.

Putting together a consulting company business plan:

1. Templates for consulting company business plans:

Check out these resources for your consulting company business plan:

Consulting business plan template – An outline of the main sections that you should have in your consulting company business plan.

Sample consulting business plan – An outline of some of the key pieces that should be in your plan, including an executive summary, business overview, risks, financial plan, and other key sections for your consulting company business plan.

Write Your Business Plan Now – Our complete, all-in-one kit that draws from the actual materials I use to help clients with their own business plans.

2. Marketing resources:

If you want to hit the ground running after you’ve completed your consulting company business plan, it’ll be helpful to have a framework of your marketing strategy already in place within your business plan. 

Here are some of the top marketing issues that you should be aware of when writing your consulting company business plan:

3. Resources for becoming a  consultant:

After you’ve written your consulting company business plan, you’ll want to start taking action on starting your consulting firm. And you’ll also want to know the answers to some key questions, like how long it takes to become a consultant so that you can plan accordingly and know what to expect.

Are you putting together a consulting company business plan? In order to help fast-track the completion of your consulting company business plan and to ensure you use accurate numbers, check out our guides, workbooks and courses in the Consultant Journal store, including the invaluable guide on consulting fees: Consulting Fees: A Guide for Independent Consultants.

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Consultancy business plan template

Consultancy business plan templates are extremely useful when putting together your own consultancy business plan. However, it’s important to use critical thinking when working off a consultancy business plan template that’s already been created.

When using a consultancy business plan template, take care to remember these five tips for creating your own unique, successful plan:

1. Be sure to add your own unique strengths and weaknesses into the plan. 

If you are a master marketer or extensive business experience, you might be able to tweak the business plan to show greater growth than average.

Likewise, if you recognize that you have certain limitations, such as a physical or medical condition or personal responsibilities that might take up a lot of your time, be sure to reflect those effects in the plan.

It’s in your best interest to have your consultancy business plan as true-to-life as possible, so be sure to reflect your personal circumstances in your business plan.

2. Don’t blindly copy and assume.

If the consultancy business plan template assumes a certain rate of growth or number of sales, don’t just blindly follow everything that the consultancy business plan template includes. Use your own judgment. Don’t be afraid to tweak the numbers based on your own logic and knowledge of your own circumstances.

3. Don’t just show results. Show how you’re going to get there.

It’s easy to write that you’ll be earning a certain income during Years 1 and 2. But don’t forget to demonstrate how you’re going to get there from here!  Marketing is key.

4. Remember that the first year will be slower than the rest.

Be sure to have realistic expectations about Year 1 income, which can be slow to get off the ground. Savings are key.

5. Feel free to eliminate sections that aren’t relevant.

Does your business plan template include sections that just aren’t relevant? Don’t be afraid to omit them entirely if they are not relevant to your type of consultancy.

Are you putting together a consultancy business plan? To ensure you get the whole picture and are in the know about consulting fees and how to set them, check out our guides, workbooks and courses in the Consultant Journal store, including the invaluable guide on consulting fees: Consulting Fees: A Guide for Independent Consultants.

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Consultant business plan template

Consultant business plan template – Are you searching for a consultant business plan template because you’re interested in becoming a consultant?

If so, then you’ve come to the right place. Not only does Consultant Journal have excellent consultant business plan template resources, but we also have over 900 valuable articles that explain every aspect of becoming a consultant, from consultant finance to marketing your consultancy.

If you are working on a consultant business plan template you are taking the right approach to your business. Writing a consultant business plan is key because the act of putting your business plan together motivates you to plan for a successful business and to iron out a lot of kinks in advance.

Have you found a consultant business plan template that works for you? If not, check out these resources for compiling your consultant business plan:  

  • How to start a consulting company – Outlines the main steps to starting a consulting business, including writing a business plan
  • Government funded small business loans – If your consultant business plan template includes a lot of financial detail, this article will help you navigate government-funded loans
  • Consulting business plan template – Outlines the main sections that you should have in your consultant business plan
  • Sample consulting business plan – Outlines elements of a strong consultant business plan, including an executive summary, business overview, confidentiality and outline of risk, financial plan, industry overview, marketing strategy and other important elements of a consultant business plan

Are you looking for a comprehensive consultant business plan template? In order to help fast-track the completion of your consultant business plan and to make sure that you use accurate numbers, check out our guides, workbooks and courses in the Consultant Journal store, including the invaluable guide on consulting fees: Consulting Fees: A Guide for Independent Consultants.

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Consultancy – Start your own

Consultancy – Have you always wanted to start your own consultancy? Not sure where to start? The good news is that starting a consultancy can be as easy as choosing a specialization, building your expertise, setting your rates, and finding your first client. In fact, depending on the type of consultant you are to become, there are very few rules governing most consulting industries so the time it takes to go from zero to having your own consultancy is shorter than you think.

1. Choosing a specialization for your consultancy:

In general, the more specific your consultancy is the easier it will be to make a name for yourself and identify potential clients. If you are unsure of what type of consultancy you should start, consider working through a guide or workbook that is designed to help you hone in on the perfect consultancy for you.

2. Setting consultancy rates:

Setting rates is both an art and a science. Learn more about setting the right rates in this comprehensive article on setting fees  or for the fast-track, inside scoop get Consulting Fees: A Guide for Independent Consultants.

3. Expertise and your consultancy: 

In order to start a consultancy you’ll need to be considered an expert in your industry. But don’t worry, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to have a graduate degree or even decades of experience. In fact, in order to start your consultancy you really just need more expertise than your clients have. Find out more about building your expertise here.

4. Finding clients for your consultancy:

Marketing and networking are key to building up your consultancy. But don’t worry, you don’t have to be a master socializer to succeed in marketing your consultancy. In fact, even if you’re introverted you can still succeed in networking on behalf of your consultancy.

Are you interested in starting your own consultancy but don’t know where to start? Check out the Consultant Journal store for a variety of resources, books and courses that will help you kick-start your journey to starting your own consultancy.

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Welcome, Entrepreneur Magazine readers

Consultant Journal is featured in Entrepreneur as part of a story on launching a consulting firm. Being featured in Entrepreneur feels like I’ve come full circle* in my business.

You see, when I was still in college, I dreamed about starting a business. I’d go to the library, read business mags, and scribble business plans on the backs of my notebooks. Later, when I moved East to work for the federal government, I’d go to the library at night, read more business books, and leaf through tattered copies of Entrepreneur. I think I read through the entire backlist during my time there. By the end of that summer, I’d landed my first contract, despite still being a university student.

So actually ending up in Entrepreneur is, well — this is trite, but it’s true – the stuff dreams are made of. It just goes to show that you can take steps to increase your expert status over time.

How about you? What business dreams do you have? What do you want from your life?

 *Okay, not entirely full circle. I’d still like to be on the front page for the $1B IPO. I admit it. But then where would my work-life balance be? 


Consulting business plan template – free outline

Many people write to ask where they can find a consulting business plan template. Well, here’s a free outline of a consulting business plan template. It’s just an outline, though – see here for my full business plan kit, which includes the actual materials I use to help clients with their business plans.

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Business Overview
  3. Products & Services
  4. Sales & Marketing Plan
  5. Operating Plan
  6. Management and Organization
  7. Action Plan
  8. Financial Plan
  9. Investment Opportunity
  10. Appendices
    1. Personal Financial Statements
    2. Financial Statements
Having run a business and marketing consulting firm for the past 14 years, I’ve written countless business plans. Every last one of them counts, though. While I’m not someone who would ever tell you that you must follow your business plan to the letter – it’s a roadmap, not a jail term – I do believe that having a good sense of direction for your business is important. For most people, the process involved in developing a business plan is actually more important than the output. All the work and thought involved in figuring out where you’re headed is what will really drive your business.
With that in mind, if you are looking for a consulting business plan template, you want one that is easy to customize around your own business. Otherwise, if you follow a pre-written, off-the-shelf plan, how will you stand out from the competition? Your business plan, while following a prescribed template, should help create a business that is unique, sustainable and achievable.

In the meantime, it’s still okay to start exploring the kind of business you want to start, the marketing you want to do and the fees you want to set. You can start on your business while working on your business plan, if you want.


Dreyfus model of skill acquisition

The Dreyfus model of skill acquisition is a helpful concept to understand when interested in building your expert status. The Dreyfus model was developed at the University of California during the 1980s, and this model of skill acquisition is still relevant today.

The basic premise of the Dreyfus model is that students progress through five stages of expert status in this specific order: novice, advanced beginner, competent, proficient, and expert.

In their paper, "A Five-Stage Model of the Mental Activities Involved in Directed Skill Acquisition," brothers SE Dreyfus and RL Dreyfus discuss each skill level in great detail. In short:

Novice – Dreyfus model of skill acquisition:

Novices adhere to specific rules. Novices do not think outside the box, nor do they exercise "discretionary judgment."

Advanced beginner – Dreyfus model of skill acquisition:

Advanced beginners take a more holistic approach to the project at hand than do novices, but advanced beginners have a limited understanding of the big picture.

Competent – Dreyfus model of skill acquisition:

Competency is achieved when you start deliberately planning your projects and when you have created routines and structures in your work.

Proficient – Dreyfus model of skill acquisition:

Proficiency is achieved when you can effectively prioritize different elements of your project. You know that you’ve reached proficiency when you truly grasp the whole of what you are trying to achieve.

Expert – Dreyfus model of skill acquisition:

In the words of the authors, experts possess an "intuitive grasp of situations based on deep, tacit understanding." Experts forego rules. Instead, they make decisions based on analytical approaches.

Are you interested in learning specific, actionable tips that will help you jumpstart your expert status from novice through to expert–just like in the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition? Get Six Tips for Jumpstarting Your Expert Status for free when you subscribe to Consultant Journal’s newsletter.

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IT contracting rates

IT contracting rates vary greatly based on a number of factors, including location, skills required, and specialization.

Location – IT contracting rates:

In today’s world where outsourcing and cloud computing are becoming increasingly popular, be mindful that IT contractors are often competing with other IT experts from all over the world, including countries with lower costs of living. However, this competition doesn’t necessarily mean that rates are reduced or that there isn’t room for you in the IT contracting world. In fact, IT contracting rates continue to vary greatly, and there is still room for IT consultants at the higher end of the rate spectrum–as long as you are clear on the value that you provide and who your market is.

Skills required – IT contracting rates:

Regardless of location, there are a wide variety of client requirements–from small projects for individuals or small businesses to multi-year contracts for large corporations or governments. In light of this, IT contracting rates will vary greatly depending on the project and the perceived value or importance of the IT work that is being contracted. Some IT contracts require high-level skill and professionalism. For example, IT contracting in the securities and banking industry obviously require increased quality, monitoring and accountability which are reflected in price. This brings us to the next factor: specialization.

Specialization – IT contracting rates:

As in any consulting field, it’s crucial that you carve out a niche for yourself. Getting specific about your service offering helps in many ways, including being seen as an expert and being able to focus your marketing on a small, clear group of potential customers. Many IT contractors start out as generalists but they soon discover that IT contracting rates are higher in more specialized fields. Why not save yourself some time and skip directly to a specialization? Discover your niche and grow your IT contracting rates.

Are you interested in learning more information about setting IT contracting rates? Check out this excellent article about computer consulting fees. Further, if you’re looking for help setting your own IT contracting rates, obtain a copy of Consulting Fees: A Guide for Independent Consultants.

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Business moms – 5 things they won’t tell you

Business moms – Here are 5 things they won’t tell you about working from home.

1. Sometimes you’ll miss wearing business attire

While it can be great to work at home in casual wear–especially in the beginning–you may want to get ready for the day before you start working in the mornings. Freshening up and looking professional can help you get into work mode and can make your family take you more seriously.

2. Working at home with kids is not the same as working at home without kids

Let’s face it. Working at home with children in the house is simply not the same as working at home in an empty house. You will have to be much more mindful of taking telephone calls and scheduling conference calls when you’ve got children in the next room. Depending on your children’s ages, interruptions will happen and you may have to be flexible about working hours depending on your children’s needs.

3. There will be bad days

Just like with any job, there will be bad days as a business mom. Even I have my days! 

4. Sometimes saying no can be tough

Being a business mom can mean that you’ve got some tough decisions to make, especially when it comes to scheduling and saying no. As a business mom you’re juggling a lot of competing priorities, and sometimes it can be difficult knowing which route to choose, like when I received a dream call from a reporter who wanted to interview me four days after my second son was born.

5. Believe it or not, working at home can get lonely

While the idea of no longer having a boss and not having to spend time with co-workers may sound great, working at home can indeed get lonely–even when you have children at home. Here are tips for dealing with home office isolation.

While these 5 things they won’t tell you about what it’s like to be a business mom may focus on the negative, it’s important to remember that the good far outweighs the bad. The 30 things I love about being a parent entrepreneur are just a tiny sampling of the hundreds of reasons why I love being a business mom. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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