However, before becoming a business consultant, you should examine what it means, where you currently are in your career path and the ultimate goal.
What does a business consultant do?
In general, a business consultant is an expert in their specific field or industry. They can be either directly employed or contracted independently by another business or organisation who are looking to solve particular issues.
A business consultant is there to offer advice and guidance in a number of areas. Some of them may include helping clients to grow by bringing new ideas and strategies to the table while others will focus on solving issues that hinder the client's business.
The main types of business consultants
For every specific business or industry area, there is a business consultants. The type that you choose to become will depend largely on your background, education, experience, and skill set.
The main areas of business consultancy roughly split into the following categories:
As the name suggests, a management consultant is an expert on all areas of business management, and this can include organising and streamlining everyday business processes, and completing overhauls of more complex, tricky organisational concerns. Their main goals will be to improve the overall way in which the business runs and operates.
Strategy consultants work in a primarily advisory role. They tend to look at the overall organisational and corporate strategy of a business, including looking at elements such as the impact of government policy, and economic and market changes.
Financial consultants are experts in the world of business finance. They are brought on board to help manage and reorganise a company’s finances, including looking at budgets and spending allocation and tax issues. They also help to ensure companies are looking ahead and planning for the future.
Experienced operations managers will often turn their hand to operations consultancy work, which focuses on ensuring business operations are smooth, streamlined, and effective. This role may combine offering advisory services with more hands-on work.
If your background is in HR, you may find success as a HR consultant. Such work typically focuses on helping businesses to deal with issues such as changes in terms of employment and contracts, hiring and recruitment, retirement and terminations, changes in management, and learning and development for employees.
HR also plays a key role in the culture and environment of a business, which means this can be a role with a lot of scope to enact real change for the better.
IT gurus with a tech background tend to find themselves in demand as IT consultants. Roles in this regard can include one-off projects to implement major changes, or smaller, more regular day-to-day management for the IT systems of a business.
What do you need to become a business consultant?
So, you have chosen your speciality, and picked the perfect direction for your career. But what skills and attributes will you need if you are to succeed in a business consultancy role?
Communication and social skills
As a consultant, you will be working with a range of people in a variety of positions – so, the ability to communicate clearly and professionally is essential. You should be a confident speaker, able to easily adapt and work with a range of personalities.
Organisation and planning skills
A key element of working as a consultant is helping businesses to organise and rearrange key aspects of their business. It is, then, utterly crucial that you have high levels of organisation and planning skills to help you arrange and implement ideas effectively.
How can I become a business consultant?
If you're exploring how to become a business consultant and how to set up as a consultant in the UK, you need to ask yourself first whether you want to be an employee or an independent contractor/business.
Full time employment
Seeking a career as a full time business consultant is more straightforward. You'll need a killer CV that speaks highly of your relevant experience. You'll need to share it with the right recruitment agencies and in the meantime network. Speak to your ex-colleagues, friends and even cold email organisations which you think might benefit from your skill set.
Business consultants typically operate as contractors or businesses. This is because their usefulness to a business usually has an expiration date. Once a problem is solved, your services are no longer needed.
In order to become a successful business consultant, you need to have extensive experience in your chosen area, whether that area is HR, finance, operations, or another sector. Experience and past results are more valuable than possessing qualifications.
Going solo requires the same attention like any other new business, and this starts with a clear business plan. You should clearly set out all the key information about your business, including:
- What do you offer? What is your USP?
- Where are you based?
- What are your rates?
- How will you work (on a retainer or a project-by-project basis, for example)
- What will your area of expertise be?
- How will you find work?
- How will potential clients find you?
Considering these key questions will help you form a comprehensive business plan. Being honest is important. Glossing over legal, regulatory, operational issues or forgetting to factor in essential costs such as business consultant insurance could leave you in a tricky situation when further down the line.
Every business must be registered with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), and there are two options here: working as a sole trader or setting up a limited company.
Both these possibilities have their pros and cons, but the main difference is that acting as a sole trader means there will be no legal distinction between you and the business – any debts or expenses will be your responsibility.
By contrast, a limited company means that you are legally separated from your business, giving you some protection if things go wrong.
Many business owners choose to start as a sole trader and only move to become a limited company after they start to earn serious profits.
Business consultant salary: how much could I earn?
Different sources naturally give different figures in response to this question; the Talent.com website, for example, states that the average business consultant salary in the UK is £37,500 a year. However, some professionals have reported earnings of double this or more.
The greater your experience and expertise are, the better your reputation as a business consultant will be – and this is the key to scooping the top end of a consultant's salary in the UK.
How to get your first client as a business consultant
One of the main challenges of working in this field is finding clients. After a while spent working in this capacity, the search for clients will be less of an issue, as you will have built up a trusted and established reputation.
In the early days, however, you should look at the contacts and resources you already have; are you in touch with businesses that could use your service? Ask around in your network – you may be surprised at the opportunities already lying in wait.
Summary: business consultancy can be a rewarding career
Solving the challenge of how to become a consultant can lead to great things in your life. You will become in demand within your field which will give you the freedom to pick your favourite projects, name your price and give you a better work life balance.
be the first step to a very lucrative pathway – and this can be an amazing chance to build a long-term career using the skills, strengths, and attributes that you already have.
It might take years but all good things come to those who wait. Only in this case, don't just wait around. Take the best from this guide and start actively working towards your business consultant career.