Think you have gone as far as you can in your present job? Instead of looking around for a similar position in another company, you may want to strike out on your own as a consultant.
With a greater acceptance of telecommuting and companies outsourcing a number of their functions, individuals may want to consider being an independent consultant. But before you jump in, take the following into account:
1. Do Your Budget Projections
Every business has to have a proper system of budgetary planning. This is vital if you do not want to lose a potential contract due to financial constraints. If you are unsure, it will be advisable to meet up with friends in the same industry. But do your homework first and check if they will be in direct competition with you. They may not give you accurate advice because they may reveal vital information about their core competencies. Alternatively, you can source out information from your business associations.
2. Get a Private Banker
Every consultancy needs good financial advice. Learn to delegate some financial requirements to the professionals. They may actually help you to avoid pitfalls that can impede the progress of your consultancy.
3. Consider private funding
If you believe that your consultancy is built on a franchise or a first-mover opportunity, you should consider seriously getting private funding. However, before you hit the streets with your business plan, get legal advice about the protection of your intellectual property and do a background check on the venture companies that you are approaching.
A big plus in getting venture funds is that you can secure a much bigger principal sum and there is better support.
4. Be consistent with your pricing plan
In order to be credible and professional, you should put serious thought in the pricing plan for your services. You may want to charge on a per hour or per contract basis. However, you can make exceptions if you have intention of creating alliances with your customers or embark in a co-branding exercise.
5. Don't make too many promises
As you start your new consultancy, you should give value-added services and not be too accommodating to your initial clients. The reason is that they may actually pass information about your "low" pricing plan and omit the fact that the pricing plan is not a permanent arrangement. It is better to get a few big contracts to boost your consultancy's credibility first. Also, remember to seek permission to quote your clients as references.
6. Target public tenders
There will be regular public tenders for various projects. Your consultancy should gear up for these public exercises even though you're relatively new. The reason is that this will give you discipline and encourage you to be more aware of the business climate in your industry, such as the minimum requirements and expectations that are accepted industry-wide. This could be your best way of getting a reality check.
7. Build alliances with your employees
As you start your recruitment drive, be mindful that your new employees have a difficult task of building new alliances for your consultancy. You can make their task easier if you could accompany them to networking opportunities.
Colin Ong TS is the Managing Director of MR=MC Consulting (http://www.mrmc.com.sg) and Founder of 12n Community (http://www.mrmc.com.sg/12n)