Enhancing Your Skills As a Consultant
Having the structure of a company, the resources of its people and departments can help you develop your transferable skills. The time that you spend in your role is beneficial because you have the opportunity to learn while earning a salary. However, at some point, many professionals hit a wall in their career. The ability to advance may be limited, and they may not have the support they need to develop in their role. If you are transitioning from a professional role and have been thinking about consulting until you step into another position, there are significant benefits to consulting. Though corporate resources are bountiful at times, entrepreneurship can open the door to new experiences and expose you to opportunities you may not have had in the workplace. Taking time off from your profession can be scary and frustrating while trying to find a new career. However, you could look at the time as a time to develop yourself. The following are some of the benefits of using the knowledge you have acquired over the years to help solve the problems of others.
1.) Learn How to Run a Business-Depending on the level of advancement you reached during your professional career, your responsibilities may or may not have included understanding all facets of the business. Starting your own consulting business provides you with the opportunity to:
-Learn how to set-up the business
-Develop a business plan
-Design a brand and brand story
-Create and implement a marketing strategy
-Learn about accounting and finances
-Invest in real estate or office space rental
-Evaluate and apply for certifications
-Research and complete additional training
-Network to grow your business
-Become a connector through networking
2.) Become More Open-Minded- The individuals you meet along your entrepreneurial journey all will not come from the same organization. Though you may have a mission and values designed for your business, those that you engage with will have different visions. The diversity of individuals that you engage with will challenge you to think differently and outside of the box. It will also force you to learn how to work with different individuals that aren’t required to respect you. The respect has to be earned because when you are providing a service, you become a servant to the client.
3.) Set Professional Boundaries- Develop a clear brand story, service offering, and be transparent about who you are. Doing so will allow you to set the tone for how you engage with your clients. This will be challenging at times because it will require that you set boundaries and adhere to them. Some of those boundaries could be around availability, pricing, and approach. Being transparent about your boundaries will only gain the respect of your clients.
4.) Manage Up-When you set boundaries as a consultant, it conditions you to learn how to manage up. When time is more limited, and clients have needs, you will have to challenge yourself to speak up about what is best for yourself and the client. The conversation should involve two-way dialog and high levels of professionalism and respect at all times.
5.) Show Gratitude-After becoming a consultant, every dollar is earned on your time. Therefore, the reward of solving a client’s problem can be very satisfying. Providing solutions that help your clients reach their goals will help you appreciate the work and learning experiences along the way. The level of gratitude you express to your clients and support system will be vital to your success. This will also condition you to practice gratitude should you transition into another professional role.
6.) Accelerate Experience & Exposure- When you become a consultant, you have the luxury of choosing the clients you want to work with, the people you want to network with, the staff or vendors you want to hire, and most facets of your business. Having access to individuals with diverse and talented backgrounds will help you grow. Surrounding yourself with top talent can help you accelerate your learnings in certain areas. Be open to feedback and advice because it is a gift. Respectfully, take from it what you want and move forward.
Ongoing learning will be vital as you improve your knowledge as a subject matter expert.
Leveraging your time in between positions to consult can help you feel great about the awesome things you have learned along the way and the art of sharing that information with audiences and clients that need it. Having a consulting business provides you with the opportunity to stay aware of your transferable skills and the work it takes to run a business. After consulting and transitioning to your next big role, take those learnings with you as they will make you even more of an asset to the company you work for in the future. Once you have challenged yourself to run a business, and you experience success, you will then know that you always have something to fall back on. Share your story, enhance the development of others, and groom yourself for your next big role.