Tips for starting an Interim Executive or Business Consultant Business
Becoming a business consultant or an interim executive is the next logical step for well-experienced business leaders.
Have you reached a point in your career where you’ve learned all you could? Is it time to take shake things up? Meet new people? Help businesses in trouble? If the answer to all those questions is ‘Yes’, then starting a business consultancy or working as an interim executive/ business consultant might be the best thing for you.
Have you reached a point in your career where you’ve learned all you could? Is it time to take shake things up? Meet new people? Help businesses in trouble? If the answer to all those questions is ‘Yes’, then starting a business consultancy or working as an interim executive might be the best thing for you.
Both jobs don’t have permanent bearings and change project-to-project. It’s ideal for people who are looking to break free of the monotony of working in the same workplace day in, day out. But the high stress of the job means it is only suitable for people who have lots of experience and are confident in their decisions.
If you’re interested in a career as an interim executive or business consultant, then read on for some great tips to ensure a successful transition.
Transferring to be a business consultant
Consultancy is a high-pressure job in any industry. It is best suited for those people who can handle stress and make rational decisions under pressure. Traveling to on-client sites and working long hours is part of the job description. Because consultancy is not a 9-to-5 job, you should be prepared for the difference between the working hours and style of and employed executive and an interim executive/ business consultant.
If you are someone who needs structure, then think through how you will organize your business to give you that structure. Inherently, there is no structure, and this is tough for most initially.
A good business consultant doesn’t change
Don’t change your personality for your clients. Becoming something that you’re not only entangles you in complicated situations out of your league. What you are good at and what you love to do. Don’t put yourself up for something you don’t have the expertise for. Don’t try to be the person who can do any assignment because you are a great “learner”. Companies do not bring in interim executive/ business consultants to ‘learn’ on the job. They bring them in so the company can learn from them.
Don’t try to be something you are not. Stick with your affinities. Let your personality come through and go for projects that you have the right skills for. It is more about what you have done, and proven that you do it well, than what you want to do. People want to work with executives and/or business consultants who are confident in their abilities and are sure of themselves. Focus on what you are the expert in.
Have the client be prepared as well
Making the most of out of a consultation meeting means coming prepared – and that goes for both the business consultant and the candidate seeking advice. A person coming to the meeting with opinions, thoughts, and ideas makes a great impression and starting point to build a productive discussion upon.
Let them know that you want them to come with structured thoughts, even if they are wrong ones. Through their views, you’ll know what to expect, and they likewise will know what to expect from you.
Business Consultants look beyond the CV
When taking on new projects, consultants tend to focus their attention on what the person has done, their experience and skills. They should instead prioritize more important things like their personality and interpersonal skills. Things you cannot glean from a CV.
Business consultants make an effective manager
Being a good manager means being able to persuade people to do what’s needed to be done, in the right manner, and at the right time. Individuals who are people-oriented are brilliant in managing people because they understand what motivates them. Their management approach differs according to every person and is not the same for everyone.
Training and Skill Development goes for Business Consultants too!
You may be good at what you do, but that doesn’t exempt you from further training to update your skills. The more you learn, the more value you can provide your clients.
If you can afford to take time off to do training off-the-job, in a physical location take it. It can be one of the most expensive methods, yet remains as one of the most effective. But you can also avoid traveling 5 hours by road or catching a flight out to New York to attend a course, by learning in the comfort of your home using online resources. People underestimate how good online courses are. They have gone much further than streamed videos and presentations, and now feature a live teacher, class discussions, projects, and networking opportunities as a bonus. You have the luxury of flexible timing so that it doesn’t interfere with your other work and you can learn at your own pace.
Another way to acquire training is on-the-job with someone who knows the job well. Ask them to mentor you, or intern with them for a month to shadow their work routine, and you’ll pick up many useful hints.
Business development for business consultants
In a recent survey, the top 3 sources were networking, referrals and online resources (social media, your online talent marketplace or your own website). This is one of the most challenging areas. We’ll cover this in a later series. The key is to always be doing business development, regardless of how busy you are. If you wait until you have the time, it’s too late.
You are accomplished and have done many things in your career, but what is the one or two things you do best. The more you can focus what types of situations are best for you to be brought into, the easier it is for your network to remember and refer you. In the survey referred to earlier, the top 3 sources were: networking, referrals and online resources. Leave no stone unturned but make sure you are consistent with who you are and what you do across the channels. It is very frustrating for referral sources to know you as a start-up tech executive but then visit your LinkedIn profile and only see your experience with billion companies.