Have you ever thought about leaving your company and working independently as a consultant for companies? If so, find out how you can take your project management skills and apply them to your own business below.
Why Become a Consultant?
Maybe you've been a project manager for a while at your firm - or perhaps you just received your PMP Certification and you're anxious to get things going. Project management consultants tend to earn around $100,000 or more a year. Besides the income potential, project management consultants have the following advantages over their company-employed peers:
- A larger variety of work
- The ability to set one's own hours
- Greater challenges and independence in project choice
- The ability to build skills and experience one wouldn't otherwise have
Is the Time Right?
You shouldn't just become a project management consultant when you are unemployed. Ideally, you will have several years' experience under your belt and perhaps even PMP or other certifications. You shouldn't leave a job you already have until you've given proper notice, and you need to have 6-12 months of living expenses saved up. You should also wait to leave until you have several networking contacts. You will need them when you are in a quest to find clients.
While this is the ideal situation you should have before you leave your day job to become a full time consultant, it's not always possible. If that is the case, you may be able to make things work well by starting out moonlighting as a consultant on the side.
How to Find Consulting Clients
Finding clients may be a bit of a challenge if you're just starting out, but if you have been at it for a while, tell everyone you know that you are looking for new clients as a project management consultant. You never know whom the people you know may know; the best part is, word-of-mouth is free advertising. Here are some other great tips for finding clients for your project management consulting business:
- Write and publish project management articles to establish expertise
Use LinkedIn and other social networking venues
- Put your business card everywhere
- Cold-call potential clients
- Join a networking group and go to meetings and mixers
- Place an advertisement in trade magazines
Managing Your Time
When working as a consultant, it is important to manage your time wisely so you don't lose track of your life in the process. When working on your own, the tendency is to work more and longer hours than you would if working for a company. Also, make doubly sure to use a good time-management methodology. Finally, don't take on more client work than you can reasonably handle. If you feel like you're drowning in work, you're going to get burned out.
Managing Your Business
Finally, you need to run your consultancy like a business - make sure to keep careful records of everything. When you are working as an independent project management consultant, you will also need to worry about things like business insurance, health insurance, and taxes! Be sure to check out the incredibly informative resources listed in this article for entrepreneurs. Always maintain your professionalism, and give your clients more than what they expect and you should be successful in no time!