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When to Start a Consulting Business -
Timing is Important


When is the right point in a career to start a consulting business?

Set out below are a number of considerations that will inform your thinking around whether now is the right time for you to start a consulting business.

OK, look out! .Here come some gross generalizations .

There are no hard and fast rules and the notes that follow are intended as guidelines only.

Experience and Credibility
Clients look for external consultants to bring substantial breadth and depth of experience of their profession, industry or technical discipline.

No matter how intelligent you are and how good your grades from college you can't rush the process of gaining solid commercial and professional experience.

Of course, there will inevitably be some exceptions, perhaps in science or new technologies, where someone in their mid twenty's may have sufficient experience of a very narrow and specialized niche that to start a consulting business may well be the right thing to do at that point.

There is no 'silver bullet' or predetermined age at which the door to a career in consulting is magically unlocked.

Some would say a minimum age would be somewhere between 30 and 35 years old assuming that from age eighteen onwards you had achieved a number of prerequisites which might include some or all of the following:
  • University degree
  • Professional training and qualification
  • An MBA
  • Significant periods of employment with credible organizations in the industry or profession in which you intend to practice as a consultant

Again, no hard and fast rules.

Very simply, if you have experience and expertise that clients are willing to pay for and the confidence and grit necessary to start a consulting business and make it a success, then just Go For It.

Family Considerations
Only you can judge whether from a domestic perspective the time is right for you to start a consulting business.

Often Consultants need to work away from home and this may cause problems and tensions if you are required to be at home during the evenings to deal with family commitments and discharge your responsibilities.

Conversely, consultants may need time to work in a quiet environment in a home based office; your domestic and residential arrangements may not be conducive.

Financial Considerations

Before you start a consulting business, or any business for that matter, you need to fully understand the financial implications.

You need a basic cash flow projection that will show clearly how you will bridge from your current situation, perhaps earning a regular salary from an employment to generating and banking fees as a self-employed consultant.

The smart move is to ensure that before you start your business you have sufficient cash reserves to pay essential bills for a period of time, perhaps twelve or eighteen months.

This will really take the pressure off you should it be the case that you do not win any chargeable work during the early months.

I was lucky in this respect; I had a cash cushion saved that would have allowed me to survive for approximately two years, but I was earning good fees within a period of weeks from when I started.

A note on Navigation
This tier 2 page is 1 of 4 interrelated pages that together are intended to provide a basic body of information to assist you with starting your own consulting business. The four pages seek to answer following questions:

1. Why
The rationale for considering starting your own consulting business including consideration of the advantages and disadvantages.

2. What
What is a Consultant? - Basic definitions and distinctions between different ways of working.

3. When (This page)
When is the right stage in a career to start a consulting business? The factors that are likely to influence the timing of your move to establish your own consulting practice.

4. How
A summary of the key activities and steps that are inherent to starting your own consulting business and making a smooth transition to a commercially successful independent consulting business.

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