Still time for New Year’s Resolutions. In case your resolutions include consulting, here are 10 reasons NOT to go there. Not being negative – just being honest.
1. You dislike risk – Starting any business involves risk. To be blunt, some people simply do not like risk. Nothing wrong with that, but if risk makes you uncomfortable, you’re better off not starting a consulting practice – or any small business.
2. You don’t like to market or sell - The first piece of advice I give anyone considering consulting is to be prepared to peddle your butt off. With rare exceptions, the world will NOT beat a path to your door, no matter how smart you are.
3. You lack practical experience - Just because you just got your MBA doesn’t make you an independent business consultant. Most clients are looking for experience. So if you are a newly minted anything with the urge to consult, I recommend spending a few years with an existing firm before going out on your own.
4. You don’t know WHAT to consult about - As a variation, you may have experience but don’t know what to specialize in. Remember, most consultants are specialists, not generalists. And it better be fun – no sense pursuing something you don’t like or enjoy.
5. You don’t know WHO to consult for - You need to identify your niches, both demographic and geographic. You can always change or expand, but you better have some specific targets in mind before you start.
6. You just got laid off - Don’t know how many calls I’ve had over the years from colleagues who just lost their jobs. NO, do NOT do this… unless you have enough money to keep you going for at least six moths without any revenues (a year might be better.) See my story.
7. Your finances are not in order - See the comment above. If you don’t have money in the bank, or someone who can support you, stick with you regular job. Then start saving – aggressively – so that you can break free later. See Mr. Money Mustache for ideas – he “retired” in his 30s and now does his own thing with no financial worries.
8. You aren’t ready to make sacrifices - In time, money, and relationships. Like to watch lots of sports? Forget it. Like to buy toys? Forget it. Like to dine out regularly? Forget it. You need to focus your resources on starting you business. And make sure any significant other agrees with you, so that does not end up as a sacrifice.
9. You have little kids - In my opinion, not a good time to start any business, unless you have no other choice. When little, they need your love, attention, and guidance. And your spouse needs your help. Besides, they grow up way too fast. You can always start a business later, but you can never get this time back.
10. You think its cool - One of the worst reasons to start a consulting practice, or any business for that matter. In today’s culture, being an entrepreneur is often seen as cool. But it is really a lot of hard work. You better have the passion (along with the ability) to help your clients solve their problems and/or improve their situations.
Some candid advice from Uncle Daryl. Consider it a counter balance to my earlier post – Top 10 Reasons to Become an Independent Consultant.
Finally, if you still want to consult, come on in — the water’s fine. For me, it has been a 30+ year blast. Best Wishes in 2014!
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