How much experience do you need for consulting?

I have a bit of a baby face. Always have. Hopefully, I always will. And that baby face has sometimes been the bane of my career, since people seem to think I’m younger than I am. "Aren’t you a little young to be a consultant?" people sometimes asked when I was starting out. Um, no.

You see, to be a consultant, you don’t need a set amount of experience. You do need sales skills, consulting skills and some past successes on which to build. You need some references and perhaps some contacts. But you don’t need a specific amount of experience.

Of course, the consulting fees you can charge will probably depend on how much experience you have and just how well you can sell clients on your potential. But, again, you don’t need a specific amount of experience. You just need paying clients.

Do you think there’s a benchmark for experience in independent consulting?

Tony says:

Great post Andrea!

I don’t think there is a set amount of experience needed to be a consultant. I also agree with your assessment that you need some specific experience with successes in the past, contacts and referrals.

Another important fact is no matter how much experience you have, you need a market or demand for your services. For example, you could have 35 years of experience in development and sales of VCR systems. But if there isn’t a market for VCRs, then you won’t be successful no matter how much experience you have. Maybe this is a bad example, but you get the point.

Andrea says:

I follow you. However, if you spin your experience right, you can still find a consulting path. For example, someone who did development and sales of VCR systems (dare I suggest Beta?) would still have very relevant experience in sales and development as they apply to early adopter markets for any other product or service. I emphasize this in my “Discover Your Inner Consultant” workbook — you need to see the potential of your experience, not the limitations. Albert Einstein was a patent clerk when he invented the theory of relativity. :)

development and sales of VCR systems.