Chapter 2: Advantages: why information consulting might appeal to you – Information Consulting

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Advantages: why information consulting might appeal to you

Abstract:

There are plenty of things that make information consultancy an attractive career: the independence, working at our own discretion, being proud of helping and being useful to others, not being influenced by corporate politics, and freedom to choose from the projects available. Among these advantages there is a possibility to work and earn as much as the consultant expects.

Key words

independence

helping clients

self-management

One must have good, clear reasons for wanting to set up a consulting practice. Identifying right from the start what benefits and rewards you can gain along the way will help you to weather the storms and challenges ahead.

The most frequently cited motivations centre around the areas of personal control and the satisfaction of having a positive impact.

Sense of control over one’s time

The idea of having more control over one’s schedule seems universally attractive. Typical comments go something like this:

‘Getting out of the daily 9–5 rat race was a terrific relief. Although I work as many hours now, sometimes more, it feels good to decide myself which ones.’

‘I’m at my most creative late at night and a flexible schedule lets me arrange my work as I see fit.’

Many independent consultants work from home. They appreciate the time they no longer have to spend in traffic or on the commuter train, and benefit from the opportunity to run errands or manage chores in the middle of the day. If there are young children, a work-at-home parent can be a plus for the entire family.

The bottom line is that no one tells us when to start work and when to stop except ourselves. Therein lies a risk: with a home office, work is never more than a hallway or a set of stairs away. It can be difficult to relax; some consultants comment (without complaining, mind you) on their loss of the concept of a weekend – they do the same thing on a Sunday that they’d be doing on a Tuesday.

Sense of reward from helping clients

A great sense of satisfaction can come from the ability to ‘get in there and fix something’. Seeing a concrete achievement and a tangible outcome can feel very rewarding, just as it can generate great pride when a client offers heartfelt thanks. ‘I love it when I can truly say I saved the day! Better yet, it’s wonderful to know that as a result of my work, the team now knows how to proceed next time.’

Of course, there can be some risk associated with the role of saviour. If the client’s expectations are unrealistic and you can’t possibly meet them, no one wins. Expectation management is a key component of a successful assignment.

A subtle yet important factor in some consultants’ decision to set out on their own is the opportunity to do whatever it takes to meet a client’s goals without the element of rules dictating that things be done in a certain way.

Satisfaction from leveraging one’s experience

Many 9-to-5 jobs do not fully exploit employee experience and expertise when organisational processes force people to spend a great deal of time on extraneous tasks. Consulting can offer the chance to spend much more of our time doing what we’re good at – or doing what we enjoy (which is often the same thing). More importantly, we get to leverage our expertise for the benefit of multiple clients, not just one employer.

One feature consultants appreciate about their projects is the ‘beginning, middle and end’. Consultants experience closure much more frequently than employees do. And while it can be bittersweet to end an enjoyable contract, you can anticipate how glad you’ll feel when a difficult one concludes.

Having spent years building your skills, you may find it very satisfying to put them to good use. Interestingly, you are likely to keep adding to your skills as you go along at a much faster pace than what might have been the case had you stayed in your job.

Freedom from corporate politics

A contender for first place among the reasons for leaving regular employment is getting away from the energy-sapping politics and personality conflicts common in typical workplaces. ‘The minute I got out of there I was a new person.’ ‘I have twice the energy now because I don’t have to deal with it anymore.’

As a consultant, you may not be spared dysfunctional teams and abrasive personalities, but you are not stuck with them. ‘Some of the people in the sales department were really challenging to work with, but knowing my assignment was temporary helped.’

Freedom to ‘pick and choose’

It is a luxury to have an option: do I, or don’t I, want to work on this project? If the prospective assignment gives signs it could become a tricky undertaking, signs the client expects too much, or any other indication of trouble ahead, we can politely decline.

In the first several years, a new consultant will probably take on as much work as they can comfortably manage. After all, it is important to build a good reputation – and to pay the bills. But you do have the freedom to choose not to work. The balance between work and leisure is a matter between you, your finances and your family, if you have one. A key challenge is to navigate between ‘bread and butter’ assignments and ones likely to enhance your reputation and career.

No ceilings on your earnings

The amount of money you can make depends a lot on the amount of experience you have and the quality of your work.

There are many other many different factors that will affect how much you make in a year and they range from experience and skill to the type of information you are delivering. Some types of company, such as large corporations or big law firms, probably have more money to spend on knowledge and information than e.g. very small companies. Top salaries will be earned by those who are considered experts in their information fields – those who write articles, speak at conferences, etc.

These experts bring in anywhere from 80,000 euros a year, depending on the length of time they have been in the business. The longer you have worked as an information consultant, the bigger your base of regular clients.

Being an information consultant takes a lot of work. The work is rewarding and pays well, but there is a lot of work that you don’t get paid for – including bookkeeping, studying, attending conferences, marketing, looking for work and networking.

Chapter 2 checklist

At the preliminary stage, as any parachute-colour advisor would recommend, it is a good idea to write down the motivations for wanting to become a consultant. We offer a tip: distinguish, with honesty, between benefit-oriented and escape-oriented reasons.

Benefits:

 I want to be able to pick up my child from school every day.

 I can live on less money and enjoy my work more.

 I’m willing to take the risks because of the greater rewards.

…are very different from the urge to get away:

 I can’t take the grind anymore.

 Chances are, I’m on the list for upcoming layoffs.

 I feel completely burned out.