Why In The World Would Anyone Choose Management Consulting as a career?

Why In The World Would Anyone Choose Management Consulting as a career?

In my humble opinion the career of Independent Management Consultant is one of the most envious roles a person can be lucky enough to hold.

What is it that makes this career so envious? The top reasons are:

1. Freedom/Flexibility – As an independent consultant you are completely in control of your own destiny.
2. Earnings potential – Working for someone else typically means you work hard to make someone else rich. As an independent consultant all the profits flow to you.
3. Control – As an independent consultant it’s up to you to choose which clients you work with, or not.
4. Fit – Most roles we find ourselves taking weren’t created specifically around our own natural talents. As an independent management consultant you alone craft the perfect role to fit your desires.

Trends in Management Consultant
Management consulting, as an industry, is globally a $366 Billion market. As a business service, consulting remains somewhat cyclical and linked to the overall economic situation.

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The majority of independent consultants primarily serve the Small to medium sized business market. This makes up 95% of all businesses in the United States, with similar percentiles in most developed countries. That equals approximately 29.44 million organizations with 52.6 million employees and represents 50% of the global GDP of $70 Trillion. Some consultants work with very large Fortune 1,000 size companies as well, but the revenue sweet spot is the Small to medium Sized organizations that constitute most of the world’s business.
Hiring outside consultants is also on the rise, with 22% of executives in the SMB market stating they intend to increase spending on consulting over the next year (2013).

Risks of Independent Consulting

There are risks associated with starting any business, consulting or otherwise. Statistically, nearly 65% of new businesses are gone within five years of starting and nearly two-thirds are gone within a decade. Consulting businesses aren’t immune to these same statistics.

There are also some unique risks associated with being an independent management consultant:

1. Isolation: The typical profile of a successful consultant is one that enjoys interacting with lots of people, yet the isolation of working by yourself for the majority of the day can dampen satisfaction for some.
2. Self-management/Accountability: Most people fail to truly appreciate the potential danger of working for themselves, with regards to having to be completely accountable to themselves and no one else.
3. Do-everything-syndrome: It is incredibly tempting for most entrepreneurs to get caught in what I call the “do-everything syndrome.” It’s just so damn easy to do all. However, trying to be CEO, CFO, COO, VP of Sales, Chief Cook and Bottle Washer can destroy results if not monitored carefully.

What experience is needed?

Beyond the obvious, there are four broad categories of experience that can significantly benefit your success:

1. Solution specific experience: Your background and experience needs to tie in well with the consultative solutions you provide. If you’ve never been in management, or sales, it will be difficult to advise on those topics specifically or credibly.
2. Entrepreneurial experience: Having prior entrepreneurial experience is a very nice benefit to have in this endeavor.
3. Analytical experience: Being very analytical and good at solving complex problems will definitely help you succeed in this role.
4. Sales & Marketing experience: Having professional sales and marketing experience will be a big plus for you. Many consultants mistakenly assume they can “pick up” sales techniques. If you’ve never sold anything professionally, this could be a sizeable barrier to your success.

There is an incredibly wide range of experiences, talents and strengths in the consulting community. There is no ideal template. The real key is in identifying what you are great at, building a business where people pay you for that ability, and you do not build a business that is dependent on things you suck at doing or hate to do.

Why did you get into the consulting career?

About Jay Niblick

Jay Niblick is principal and co-founder of Innermetrix and best selling author of What's Your Genius and The Profitable Consultant. Learn more about Jay Niblick here and connect via Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.