Top 10 consulting myths

I’ve been consulting for several years and it recently occurred to me that there are a lot of myths about consulting. Here are my top 10 consulting myths:

  1. You need to be a long-in-the-tooth expert. Nope. You just need to have knowledge that will help a customer. And there are lots of entry-level consulting jobs, if you want to work for a firm, instead of for yourself.
  2. You have to set your fees really low to get clients. Nuh-uh. You need to set fees that match with your skills, experience and market.
  3. You have to work long hours. Not necessarily. The great thing about consulting is that you’re in charge. You can have whatever work-life balance you choose.
  4. You have to quit your day job. Wrong. Many people, including me, started out by moonlighting. In fact, some people do this on a permanent basis to make extra money.
  5. You have to deal with all sorts of paperwork to set up a consulting business. Nope. See how to become a consultant.
  6. You must spend a fortune on a lawyer, accountant, marketer and other people. Not in most cases — you should be able to start up on your own, for little cash.
  7. You should focus on business or financial consulting. No way! There are tons of kinds of consulting business ideas out there, ranging from skin care consultants to sports nutrition consultants!
  8. You aren’t really a consultant — you’re unemployed. Uh, no. If you can rattle off an elevator pitch, cite a few clients, and tell people what you’re currently doing, no one will think you’re unemployed.
  9. People will line up at your door. Not exactly. Once you build a reputation and a strong client list, that may be the case. But you’ve got to ramp up to that.
  10. You’re on salary. Unfortunately, many clients think their consultants are on salary and thus expect 100% dedication from them. Make sure you understand the difference between being a contractor and a consultant.
  11. (It’s always good to underpromise and over deliver). You’re stuck with bad clients. No, you can always look at firing your customers.

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