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    What Does it Take to be a Consultant?
    James Nagy
    / Categories: Consulting
     

    What Does it Take to be a Consultant?

    In a time of convenience, people are searching for more and more ways to work towards the glamorous idea of working from home or working for themselves. It sounds like an ideal plan for everyone.  Work when you want. Take on clients that you want. The idea of making your own schedule and setting your own pace is a generally appealing one to people. Add to this the sheer number of people who think of themselves as an expert in their field.  With people thinking about branching out on their own, it begs the question –what does it take to be a consultant?

    Let me share with you a typical “day in the life” of this particular consultant. It involves me waking up at 5 AM to pack up. Next, I check out of whichever hotel I’ve been staying at for the past night or two because I have to make it in to my client’s office for a 7 AM start time.  The day is then filled with meetings, work, and projects all day. I have to leave the office by 4:30 PM for my 6 PM flight. It’s time then to deal with the rental car and getting to the airport. I navigate through the airport. Fly in. Drive home.  Once I arrive it's about 8:40 PM and the kids are already in bed. I go in and say goodnight, unpack, and have dinner. Everyone else then goes to bed and I have to go into my office and do two more hours of work. Around 1:30 AM I am heading to bed because the next morning starts with a 7 AM conference call. I do this every single week.

    The idea? It's not as grand as people make it out to be. The work still has to be done. I don't get to go home and not think about a job until tomorrow. Think about the times that you bring work home from the office and how stressful that is. Now imagine that is every day of your life.  You don’t take your job home with you –your job is home with you.

    When you are a consultant, you have your own business. People think of themselves as simply doing a certain skill for a client, but there is more to it than that. You are running a business –even if it’s just a one person show. You have to have insurance. You have to sell yourself all the time. You have to keep yourself up to date to remain an expert in what you do. If you're not an expert in your field, then you probably shouldn’t bother being a consultant. If you don’t know what you truly excel at, then you're not an expert. This isn’t to say that you’re not good at what you do, but there is a difference between the two. The point is that you should be absolutely sure before diving into the consulting arena. It truly is like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute.

    You will spend a large chunk of your time as a consultant doing tasks that you may not have expected. This includes a lot of time doing research, staying current in your field, and reading –a lot. Even though you might not be actually working –you have to maintain your expertise in certain topics.  Being a consultant is unpredictable. If you get a good solid gig it will be great, but you have to know how to wait for the right opportunity or to take opportunities as they come. Be prepared to feast or famine. Working as a consultant, sometimes it's like drinking water out of the fire hydrant and sometimes there's no water to be found.

    What are your thoughts on what it takes to be a consultant? What are the biggest benefits and the biggest pitfalls? What should you consider before jumping in? Comment below! 

     
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    James Nagy

    James NagyJames Nagy

    Looking for a business consultant, how can I help? As Co-Founder and Managing Partner of J&S Tech Designs, I have three decades of experience and expertise to share with you and help your business, product, or idea thrive.

    Other posts by James Nagy
    Contact author Full biography

    Full biography

    As a strategic leader and entrepreneur, James Nagy has a record of generating growth by leveraging the latest technologies to drive sales, marketing, product development, and profitability. He is known for identifying and capitalizing on market trends, developing effective tactics for implementation, enhancing operating performance, and serving as a trusted advisor and business partner. Skilled at working across operations, James builds strong, cross-functional relationships and communicates complex technical information to diverse internal and external stakeholders.

    A big picture visionary, James identifies and reacts to market trends, providing disruptive strategies that go beyond IT to include sales, marketing, and product portfolio management. Building on his experience as Director of Software Development with premier companies Midas International Corporation and SXC Health Solutions, Inc., James launched two successful consulting companies, Sprocket Websites Inc. and J&S Tech Designs. As the Managing Director, he provides innovative solutions to clients in small- and mid-cap companies.

    When he is not advising other business leaders, James lends his expertise to a variety of organizations. He is a Founding Member & Committee Member of the Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce; he serves on multiple teams and committees for the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce; he is a Founding Member of the Chicago Area DNN User Group, and he serves on the Board of Directors of the New West Symphony. In his free time, James enjoys Sci-Fi, coin collecting, traveling and wine tasting.

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