Convert Your Existing Skills into Profit
Learn how to use your expertise to make money by running your own consultancy business.
- Be self employed
- Flexible learning, start any time, work from home at your own pace
ACS student comment: "The course was a valuable
learning experience because it challenged my thinking regarding the
application of supervision and how to apply supervision to different
professions. The course exceeded my expectations, in particular because
it explored other aspects of supervision such as burn-out,
professionalism, ethics and legal concerns. The course has a very
comprehensive approach to supervision, which makes for a more rounded
supervisor." Allan M Eno MSc, BSc (Hons) Degree, Clinical Supervisor/Manager, Harley St, London, UK - Professional Supervision course.
There are eight lessons in this module as follows:
- 1. Determining if a Consultancy Practice is for You
- Attributes of successful consultants
- Advantages & disadvantages
- Codes of Conduct
- Are you ready?
2. Planning a Consultancy Practice:
- Methods of getting into consultancy
- Business structure & name
- Working from home or an office
- Set up costs
- Surviving start up
- Getting assistance
3. Planning a Consultancy Practice: Part 2
- A comprehensive Business Plan & Implementation / Pro-forma
4. Knowing What to Charge
- Your costs
- Available Working Time
- Different ways to charge
- Value based fees & justifying your fees
5. Setting Up Your Consulting Practice
- Letting clients find out about you/Advertising/Marketing
- Creating a press kit
6. Keeping Accounts and Records
- Keeping Records
- Source documents
- The invoice
- Time sheets
- Being organized
7. How to Generate Business & Keep It
- Using agents/brokers
- Using other consultants
- Asking advice from clients & potential clients
- Asking for a reference
- Writing articles
- Successful client relations
- Keeping clients
- What to do if a potential client says ‘no’
- Principles of acquiring business
8. Maintaining Your Consultancy Practice
- Professional development
- Hiring staff to expand your business
- Creating passive income
- Pitfalls to avoid
- Analyse current industry requirements and your individual needs to determine if opening a consultancy is appropriate.
- Determine the business structure appropriate for your consultancy practice.
- Produce a business plan and implementation schedule
- Determine costs involved in setting up a practice and how to set fees.
- Describe different communication and marketing techniques.
- Describe different administrative procedures including invoicing and maintaining records and accounts.
- Determine industry best practice for obtaining and keeping your customers
- Recognise responsibility towards yourself and employees in maintaining and expanding your practice, and to develop strategies to cater for increased demand.
Duration: 100 hours
WHAT OPPORTUNITIES ARE OUT THERE?
What do we mean by being a consultant? Essentially a consultant is someone with expertise in a particular area who offers advice to others. A consultant may be regarded as having expert knowledge because what they specialise in is beyond the scope of most people's awareness. Usually a consultant is employed on a temporary basis until a particular task has been completed. They are needed because there is no-one within a company with the type of knowledge which is sought. In business, a consultant is hired to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of a business.
There are consultants who represent a broad range of professions and industries. A consultant is basically someone that other people will consult for their knowledge, expertise and ideas. There are a wide range of types of consultant so we shall just consider some in detail here. People with expertise in several areas, for instance in a number of different facets of business, may work as consultants in several different capacities or roles.
- Consultants may operate in many different industries, such as –
- human resources
- information technology
- strategic planning
- real estate/estate agency
- corporate finance
- financial advice
- public sector
- business start up
- public relations
- environmental issues
- social work
Who Employs Consultants?
A consultant may be employed directly by a company, government department, or individual or indirectly through an agency, to fulfill a short-term role.
Consultants may be required by a variety of employers. Sometimes they may be consulted regularly by the same employer for varying lengths of employment, at other times it may be a one-off contract.
On rare occasions a consultant may be required by an individual. For example, Martina runs her own care agency offering care packages for people with disabilities. Occasionally, social services ask her to carry out assessments on clients for their care requirements. When this is required, Martina will employ a consultant social work/independent social worker to carry out the assessment on an ad hoc basis.
Government Agencies and Departments
Government agencies and departments may also use consultants. For example, with changes to the health and safety laws, a government agency may bring in legal consultants to advise them on their own policies and procedures in relation to health and safety.
Small companies may also make use of consultants. This can be a cost effective way of gaining expert advice without having to permanently employ a specialist. For example, a small company may employ a human resources consultant to help them develop a plan for recruitment and interview of new staff.
Some consultants may be employed by larger corporations to be available to provide their expertise to a wide range of individuals or groups employed by that organisation. In some cases these may be full-time consultants. Or they may be paid to do consulting work when required.
As we have discussed, the key role of a consultant is to provide advice and information but not to manage.
Whilst anyone with expert knowledge in a given area or industry could act as an expert witness in court, in recent years there has been a trend towards establishing registries of expert witnesses who are willing to make themselves available to provide information in court cases.
Sometimes businesses and agencies may need to appoint a manager on a temporary basis. Often this is in a higher management role such as an executive, and may be regarded as somewhere between a manager and a consultant.
... check out our bookshop for relevant text books:
Some of the people who have contributed to this course, include the following:
Tracey Jones - B.Sc. (Hons) (Psychology), M.Soc.Sc (social work), DipSW (social work), PGCE (Education),
Tracey Winning - B.Bus(Acc), Adv Dip Arts (Media), Cert. Mort Lend
Geoff Potter - B.A MstudPsyc.
Naomi Christian - B.Sc (Botany), B.Appl.Sc.(Hons)
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO WORK AS A CONSULTANT?
Consultancy is one of the most rapidly expanding areas in business today.
A high percentage of graduates are now looking at earning their living by independent means rather than being employed by an organisation. These include graduates from areas such as psychology, law, IT, accountancy, business, the different areas of medicine, engineering, physiotherapy etc. It does not matter what field you are in, there will always be organisations or individuals who will be in need of your expertise.
Because of downsizing, companies are increasingly out-sourcing for services and expertise that is not available from their own staff. Consultants bring their time and expertise to help fill in the gaps. They are needed because they have skills, experience, or knowledge not perceived to be available in-house. Companies or individuals may need help to:
- Oversee or conduct special projects because an organisational overload requires a knowledgeable outside resource
- Analyse existing organisational functions, operations, and results to recommend specific areas and actions for improvement
- Be the outside resource that acts as an 'agent for change'
- Develop and conduct training courses specific to a company's needs
- Provide an objective third-party viewpoint on strategic planning, marketing, and other operational issues to help companies avoid pitfalls and wasted effort
- Troubleshoot tactical issues, such as sales performance, to help improve a company's quarterly results
- Provide technical advice in product development or manufacturing areas
- Write articles, papers, and technical product bulletins and manuals
- Create marketing and promotional materials
- Conduct computer consultations to help resolve MIS issues, including software, networking, and client-server applications and to assist in computer system hardware and software selection
- Bring financial background and industry resources to help a company resolve financial issues
- Act as the outside resource used to provide product evaluations-including competitive analysis
- This list is not all-inclusive. What's important is that you can take the skills you've developed and the experiences you've gained to create a challenging and successful business.
A consulting practice can be all that you dream it can be. Just some of the things that it will provide you with are:
- The opportunity to put to work the knowledge that you've accumulated in your years of study and/or industry experience.
- The ability to enjoy the freedom and independence of doing your own thing.
- The possibility of achieving excellent financial rewards.
- The flexibility of living wherever you want.
- The freedom to take on those assignments you feel are stimulating and rewarding--and the option of walking away from opportunities you don't intrinsically enjoy.
- The chance to meet new people in other companies and industries.
- The satisfaction of working with the best resources you can find to get the job done.
- The ability to arrange your life around your work, if you want to, and live a much more flexible lifestyle.
Risks and challenges
There is, however, a downside to consulting that you also need to know about.
- Consulting work can be unstable and uncertain. Clients can change their minds and their circumstances can change. This can have an impact on the job you are doing, and your income
- Consulting incomes can be unstable and uncertain. Clients can cancel jobs, they take ages to pay or don’t pay at all.
- You are more likely to become a victim to changes in the market even more directly than employees.
- You often don’t know where you are going to be in a month – so it is hard to plan anything.
- Clients can have unrealistically high expectations
- You may end up doing all the ‘dirty’ work in the business yourself
- Consulting can be lonely and isolating.
How to become a Consultant
The type of practice you are intending to set up will dictate what qualifications are needed. You cannot practice medicine if you do not have the correct qualifications.
Different professions (as well as requiring a certain qualification level) may also require you to register (and maintain registration) with a relevant registration board. You may also be required to obtain some sort of accreditation. By achieving accreditation, you can then market yourself as being a quality provider.
Recognised creditability can also be gained by being a member of relevant organisations or associations. Skills can be gained from ongoing professional development offered by these bodies as well as association with other professionals.
Knowledge, expertise and industry contacts can be built in any industry through studying a qualification (eg. certificate, diploma or degree) in that discipline; but the qualification alone is unlikely to equip you to be a good consultant.
Many courses teach you about the discipline and industry, but don't teach you about being a consultant. Further studies specific to consultancy are important to maximising your chance of success.
It can be tough being a consultant – but it can also be rewarding. You must be totally committed. Four keys to consulting success are:
- Total commitment to making a success of your practice. If it is not there – forget it.
- Meaningful differentiation of the services you have to offer
- The ability to sell yourself
- The deserved reputation for providing more value than expected