How to Become a Consultant
If you’re ready to leverage your expertise and pave your own career path, becoming a consultant might be the perfect fit for you.
As a consultant, you’ll use your industry expertise to provide guidance and devise strategic solutions that help businesses meet their goals.
Consulting allows you the opportunity to work for a variety of clients on a multitude of projects, further developing your knowledge, skills, and professional network. In addition, you’ll enjoy greater flexibility and freedom in how, when and where you do your work.
If you’re wondering how to become a consultant in the marketing, communications, program and project management spaces, here is some advice to get you started.
WHAT DOES A CONSULTANT DO?
The work you’ll do as a consultant will vary heavily on your specific niche and your client’s unique needs. Some clients may turn to a consultant to offer expert advice and share knowledge that will influence organizational changes and strategy. While other clients may need a more hands-on approach, where you’ll take on execution work yourself.
If you’re wondering how to become a marketing consultant, communications consultant, or project and program management consultant, here are just some examples of the kinds of work you might do:
- Work with stakeholders to set clear goals for the relationship
- Provide expert advice and recommendations to clients
- Analyze and assess client's needs and priorities
- Develop and implement strategies, plans, and solutions driven by set goals
- Help clients with change management within their organization
- Conduct research and perform data analysis to identify opportunities and diagnose issues
- Collaborate with your client’s teams to develop and execute new processes and procedures
- Provide training and support to clients and team members
- Monitor progress and adjust plans as needed
- Oversee, track, and communicate results
Interested in becoming a consultant?
WHAT SKILLS DO CONSULTANTS NEED?
First and foremost, consultants should be experts in their field – whether that be digital marketing, UX design, executive communications, project management, or otherwise. In addition to having deep knowledge of your specific niche, it is important to have a variety of soft and hard skills. Those include:
Communication: As a consultant, you’ll spend much of your time communicating complex ideas and recommendations to clients, team members, and stakeholders. As such, having strong written and verbal communication skills is a must.
Project and time management: Even if you’re not a designated project management consultant, you’ll need to be able to manage multiple projects, often at the same time.
Strategic thinking: Strategy is a big part of what you’ll do as a consultant. You’ll be responsible for creating and implementing long and short-term plans to help your clients achieve their goals. To excel as a consultant, you must be able to think critically, identify potential opportunities and risks, and come up with innovative solutions to complicated problems.
Data analysis: You’ll need to be skilled in collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data so you can develop insights and offer recommendations based on performance and metrics.
Leadership: Not only will you need to be a self-starter, but you’ll need to lead and manage teams effectively, which involves the ability to motivate and inspire.
Interpersonal skills: Consulting is a high-touch business. You must have empathy, listening skills, and the ability to tactfully influence and persuade. Being able to build strong relationships with clients, team members, and stakeholders will be a pillar of your success as a consultant.
Adaptability: As a consultant, you’ll work with a wide range of clients across different industries who face diverse and unique challenges. As such, being able to customize solutions and adapt to changes as they come up is paramount.
Evolving industry expertise: Clients depend on you as an expert in your industry. And while years of experience will initially help you develop that expertise, it’s just as important to evolve and stay current with the latest trends, best practices, and cutting-edge technologies.
HOW TO GET STARTED
Now that you have some background on how to become a consultant, it’s time to get the ball rolling. Here are five steps you’ll need to take as you launch your career as a consultant:
- Identify your niche: The first step is to pick your specialty. This should be rooted in your experience, knowledge, and expertise. If you’re wondering how to become a marketing consultant, for example, consider what area of marketing you want to focus on. Do you want to be a marketing generalist? Or do you want to dive specifically into social media marketing?
- Develop your skills: Take the time to expand your knowledge base and fine-tune your skills in your area of expertise. You can do this by taking courses, gaining additional certificates, reading books, and attending trainings and webinars. The more knowledge you have, the more valuable you will be to future clients.
- Build your network: You can grow your professional network by attending industry events, joining professional organizations, and connecting with other professionals both in-person and virtually on LinkedIn. Building these relationships and networks can be key in helping you gain referrals and new business opportunities.
- Define your services: Decide what specific services you will offer your clients. Do you want to offer one-on-one consulting, group consulting, or both? Will you work with clients in-person or just virtually? Once you define your services, create a clear and easy-to-understand summary of your offerings.
- Create a marketing plan: Think through how you will promote your services. This will likely include creating a website and portfolio, using social media to promote your business, attending networking events, and reaching out to potential clients directly.
HOW SIMPLICITY CAN STREAMLINE YOUR JOURNEY
If you’re feeling excited about the possibility of becoming a consultant, but maybe a little timid about getting your start, consider partnering with Simplicity Consulting.
Since 2006, Simplicity has been cultivating rewarding relationships between clients and consultants specializing in marketing, communications, project, and program management. Driven by a mission to help everyone thrive in the new world of work, Simplicity is hyper-focused on accelerating growth, providing a fresh perspective, and increasing capacity for businesses by pairing them with expert consultants, just like you.
When you partner with Simplicity, we work together to look beyond your resume and uncover what kind of work truly lights you up, and where you’d like your consultant career to take you. From there, we work behind the scenes to find you opportunities that align with your passions and drive meaningful impact.
Once we assign you to a project, our relationship doesn’t end there. As your engagement nears completion, our team starts the work to help you line up your next project whether it be an extension of what you’re working on now or a new opportunity. Our team is committed to helping you find and maintain a consistent pipeline of work.
In addition to taking the self-promotion load off your shoulders, working with Simplicity also gives you access to many of the benefits you would enjoy as a full-time employee, including medical insurance, travel reimbursement, 401K options, and paid time off.
And when you partner with Simplicity you are joining a supportive community where you can connect with fellow consulting experts. As part of our Coaching for Consultants initiative, we offer ongoing professional development opportunities to our consultants to grow their skillset.
If you’re ready to launch your career as a consultant with Simplicity, complete your consultant profile today!