How To Become a Consultant - 50 Things You Do Right Now

Here's the 50 Things List on How to Become a Consultant . . . as I promised!

First and foremost, you are already a consultant.  That's the thinking you need to wrap your mind around - even if you are working for a large company.

I was asked - "So where do I start in becoming a consultant?"

I am going to list out the things - while not totally complete - you need to do to move you toward becoming an independent consultant.  Don't let the length of this list "fool" you. It is not scary. And the things listed out here are things you should be doing ANYWAY to become better in your profession!

The Best Place to Start is Right From Where You Are
This is a list to start with right from where you are.  AND any managers looking at this - do not be afraid to share these with your staff. A good professional and a good consultant have almost exactly the same skills and attributes. Who could argue with these?

The Consulting Starting Point List
  1. As you are working for a company - think - I deliver value to the client (end-user, my manager, my division, my company - YES - all of these entities).
  2. What is the VALUE I do bring? Is it programming, or Business Analysis, or Reengineering, or WHAT?  Define it.
  3. Translate that VALUE into Money Savings, Money/Revenue Generated, Time to Market - something.  If you cannot - keep this in your mind.
  4. What do I know? What have I accumulated in the way of knowledge or a process or a program or a product - that says I am a little better, a little different, that can be leveraged (used) in other jobs or projects?
  5. What is my knowledge in the industry or sub-segment of the industry? How is my knowledge different or better or more than others I know?
  6. What is my knowledge in my area of expertise - as it lays against my industry? Am I a strong accountant in the Health Care Industry that understands Patient P&L and Health Care Profitability? Or something along a similar vein?  Do I know iPhone Application Development in the Banking industry?
  7. Can I write? Can I build proposals?
  8. Can  I develop strong, short PowerPoint Presentations that encapsulate what I am recommending? And what I have done? Can I incorporate diagrams that denote what I am trying to convey?
  9. Can I speak publicly?  Have you gone regularly to Toastmasters, or Dale Carnegie or a Public Speaking course?  Can I present and get my points, my facts, and my opinion across?
  10. How do I look? Do I dress professionally appropriate? Am I uncomfortable with stepping up my appearance? Am I willing to work on how I look?
  11. Can I run and facilitate a meeting? Do I capture notes well and am I willing to incorporate them into a document and share these publicly in a Word doc or an email?
  12. Do I work hard? Am I willing to get up early and stay later?
  13. Am I a proficient Time Management person? Do dwaddle? Or do I work from a list that is prioritized - every single day?
  14. Do I read and study my field? Am I trying to become an expert on the things here listed out?
  15. Have I created a Blog and do I write regularly?
  16. Am I concerned with perfection on things that don't need to be perfect and therefore this keeps me from trying in the first place?
  17. Do I know how to get and keep clients?  Have I done any type of business development in the past? Can I transfer to a group that is more front line facing to learn how to win business?
  18. Can I write on a whiteboard and explain my thoughts in a diagram?  Can I capture the thoughts of the group on a whiteboard?
  19. Do I know how to run and participate in a meeting?
  20. Can I talk without rambling? Can I get to the point and not waste managers time?
  21. Do I and can I - ask powerful questions when meeting with a user or client?
  22. Do people go away from meeting with me and say "That was a worthwhile meeting?"
  23. Can I translate what the client issue is into root causes?
  24. Can I translate what the client issue is into ancillary problems?
  25. Do I recognize when I talk to the client and gather information that I need to go out and survey others and verify issues and then clarify issues to make sure we are addressing the true issues and get the desired results?
  26. Do I have confidence but not arrogance?
  27. Can I run a project?
  28. Can I create project status sheets, identify risks, identify best practices, build a project plan, identify interdependencies, get the right people on the team, create communication plans, etc etc etc?
  29. Do I understand - it's about delivering results.
  30. Am I likable to some degree?  I am not talking about becoming a beauty  pageant queen or king. And I am not talking about being a sycophant or lapdog or Ms Popularity 2012. But do you have a good demeanor? Do you smile often? Care about people? Do you have an understanding of what I am talking about here?
  31. Are you PASSIONATE about what you are doing?
  32. Are you PASSIONATE about YOU?
  33. Are you a complainer? Not a good thing by the way.
  34. Are you a leader? Can the client (your manager, end-user, etc) depend on you?
  35. Are you RELIABLE?  Do you do what you say you will do?
  36. If something goes wrong - will you state "I was responsible and here is what I am doing to correct the matter?"
  37. If something goes wrong - do you learn a lesson and incorporate it into the project or your repertoire?
  38. Breath. Stop. And just relax here. It seems like a lot - but these items can be incorporated into your slowly and surely . . .
  39. Are you building a roll-a-dex of people you know in the industry? What is a roll-a-dex?  Jeez - okay, all I am talking about here is capturing names and contact info, as well as likes and dislikes.
  40. Are you looking to network with peers in other companies and ancillary companies or industries?
  41. Are you looking for opportunities to publish your findings internally and externally?
  42. Are you continuing any sort of education? You don't need an MBA or PhD. Sometimes it helps. But it is not required.
  43. Are you positive or negative? Are you looking for what's right or what's wrong? A good consultant looks for what might go wrong and this is very important. However, they have a positive positive, can-do attitude.  By the way - it is stupid to be positive about jumping out of an airplane with no parachute. So, if you have a project assignment that you feel is impossible, this is tough love stuff, get it out on the table with your client. Don't wait to go splat on the concrete by being positive and jumping out of an airplane.
  44. Back to 43 above.  Can you identify the risks and build out risk mitigation plans.
  45. Can you bring a team together?  Can you rally a team and not rail at them?
  46. Can you identify the different types of personalities in the room or project team or your clients and communicate in the manner they need to be communicated with? In other words, a CFO is going to want to be factual and analytical. She will want fact based information with stats or numbers. An HR EVP will want facts but will probably by more concerned with the morale of the group, department and corporation. A division head if they originated from sales will have a little bit of both but will lean toward the future and sales growth and needed processes and staff.
  47. When things go wrong (and they always will) can you keep your head?
  48. Can you eliminate defensiveness? Can you eliminate anger?  Can you keep your mouth closed at the appropriate times? Sometimes our passion and desire to do well - gets a little misguided and comes up as anger and defensiveness. It's a thing to keep in check. It's too much PASSION misguided and misdirected.
  49. Do you volunteer for tough assignments? Are you willing to continually stretch yourself?
  50. Will you set a goal today? To do one or two of the things on the list? And start?
Last - take this list - place it in a spreadsheet (why do we love spreadsheets?) and give yourself a rating. Go to your boss and give the list to him and ask him to give you a rating. And go to a client (not a friend for Pete's sake! (who is Pete and why do care about his sake?)) and ask him or her to rate you.  On a scale of 1 to 5 or I prefer the big numbers 1 to 10.  You can get some feedback as to where you are and what areas you need to work on.

By the way - start now and 12 months from now you will not realize what has happened.

There are a host of other things that are not listed like Negotiating. I know this.

I will make it a list of a 100 soon. I told you I was not done :-)


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