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Chances are, you already know what a consultant is — an expert in a particular field who uses their knowledge to help other businesses or professionals. You have a skill set that makes you a candidate to become a consultant, too, but going out on your own is certainly a challenge.

Fortunately, others have traversed the same path and have come out successful on the other side. There’s no reason you can’t do the same. Keep the following six considerations in mind as you chart your course to a consultancy career.

1. Do I Have the Resume?

If you’re thinking about becoming a consultant, you probably have the experience and knowledge to make it happen. But before you start your journey, look at your career and your resume critically — are you really ready?

To that end, make sure you have brushed up on your education and skills before setting off on your own. Familiarizing yourself with the latest industry trends and changes will enhance your ability to give advice to businesses within your sphere.

2. How Big Is My Network?

If you’re starting a business, there’s perhaps nothing more important than having an extensive network of contacts. They may be former colleagues or clients, or maybe you’re just savvy at making industry connections at events and conferences. Either way, a robust network will be key to expanding and making a success of your consultancy firm. If you don’t know enough people to spread the word, stay where you are and build up your contact list before branching out.

3. Are My Certifications and Licensing up to Date?

Similarly, you should go over the certifications required of someone in your field. Some consultancy careers will require you to have specific qualifications or even a license to practice. Before you start your business, have all this paperwork up to date so you can begin without any speed bumps.

4. Have I Done a Trial Run?

You can’t quite practice running your business for a day to see how it’d work, but you can mentally prepare with a trial run for another company. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to gain a practical understanding of business consulting: Find a local shop or company you can consult for pro bono. Ask for any potential data you need from them to give a better idea of the changes you should make. Then, provide them with actionable tips to streamline and improve the way they run.

Obviously, this will be helpful to the company in question, but you’ll benefit greatly, too. You’ll be able to draw from experience as you court new clients, and you’ll feel more confident proposing solutions, knowing you’ve been right in the past.

5. Am I Organized?

This question is an important one to ask yourself before setting out on any business venture, especially one focused on consultancy. But it’s impossible to overstress the need to be well-organized, especially if you’re running a company and setting your own schedule.

There are many ways organization will be necessary to you as an entrepreneur, too. Of course, you’ll have to be organized and have a home for all your essential documents. You should be adept at time management, too, always sticking to your schedule and making a daily plan to follow for a productive day. After all, the success of your business lies in your hands, and that will undoubtedly include making a well-balanced, well-planned schedule and following it closely.

6. What Are My Goals?

Finally, you won’t truly find success without having a vision of what that looks like to you. Every consultant’s dream will be different, of course, but it’s important to define what you want out of your company and your consultancy firm before you set off into the world on your own.

It’s important to realize not every business will suit the consultancy model. As you delineate your goals, you might find yourself having a hard time figuring out how you can achieve them as a consultant. And that’s precisely why this step is vital in the process of branching out on your own — you might find there’s a better way to start your own business and achieve all you imagine without becoming a consultant.

Get Started

Once you’ve made the decision to begin consulting, all you have left to do is begin. Of course, the step-by-step guide to launching a consultancy firm is a lengthy, adaptable one, too, so figure out the right moves to make that’ll start you off on the right foot.

In the end, all this thinking and planning will work in your favor. You’ll have a clear plan and a well-defined set of goals to guide you — and you’ll be ready at the helm to handle whatever happens next.