I believe so, and here’s why:
1. More Organisations Are Hiring Professional Consultants
In recent years there’s been a growing trend for large organisations to hire consultants to meet their needs instead of recruiting staff. This is especially so since the recent recession started in 2008. Here are a few reasons why…
Many companies have shed jobs in an attempt to save money by cutting their wage bill. As they reduced their financial outgoings they quickly discovered their outgoing staff took their valuable skills with them. Consequently, these businesses ended up hiring consultants and freelancers to fill the skills gap created by their own knee-jerk reactions. And guess what? They generally pay consultants and freelancers a much higher rate than their previous employees!
In addition to shedding jobs, some are holding back from hiring permanent staff. Previously, many companies hired staff and provided an extended training period until they got up to speed and their workload grew to fill the day. Companies can’t afford to do that now. They need people who can produce instant results without being ‘carried’ by the employer. The recent trend towards lean working has prompted some to look for consultants and freelancers instead of taking on traditional, salaried staff. They do this because freelance consultants are usually available at short notice, don’t need extensive training, and can produce results from day one.
Linked to the above, other organisations are more hesitant to employ staff because of additional burdens they face. Taking on salaried staff means providing benefits such as expenses, sick pay, holiday pay, maternity pay, paternity pay, time off to care for relatives – and the list goes on. Then there’s the time and cost of the recruitment and selection process. And if they ever want to dismiss a staff member the process can be long-winded, painful and sometimes quite expensive. You can now see why some companies prefer the simplicity of hiring freelance consultants instead.
The world of commerce is becoming more technical and professional. Corporations have to ‘up their game’ to remain competitive and survive. Some businesses just don’t have all the skills they need in-house. And other businesses are too busy making widgets to give time to things they consider to be ‘non-core’ activity. If you have an area of relevant expertise you are needed now more than ever before.
2. Modern Technology Makes It Easier Than Ever To Set Up And Run Your Own Professional Consulting Business
We take for granted what we become familiar with. Have you ever stopped to think about the power available to you through your computer, laptop, tablet or smart phone? Today’s technology can empower individuals in ways that weren’t even available to the largest of corporations just a generation ago. And we can benefit from all this at a fraction of the previously cost.
Modern technology can also enable you to do all of the following for free:
- Search online for specific and detailed information.
- Build you own website.
- Collect customers email addresses and automatically send out newsletters and marketing information.
- Interact directly with customers, associates and others through a range of social media channels such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and more.
- Create, store and share documents, spreadsheets and presentations.
- Create, edit and share image, audio and video files.
- Hold tele-seminars and video-conferences – yes, even for free!
- Use a range of productivity apps to help you schedule your work, manage your to-do lists and track your time.
This is just a sample of some things you can do with free software. There’s plenty more and it’s getting better all the time. And if you’re willing to pay a small monthly fee or a one-off payment you can access even more.
Modern technology is levelling the playing field. I built my first (basic and ugly) website in Microsoft FrontPage. I then progressed to using Adobe Dreamweaver. As powerful as Dreamweaver is, it takes months to master and days to build a decent site. Then WordPress came along. I can now set up a fully functioning, beautiful, mobile-responsive website without any html or css coding in only a few hours.
Can you see how some of this could help you in your professional consulting business?
3. There’s A Growing Trend For New Businesses To Use Freelance Consultants
Traditional companies have been losing staff. But while unemployment has been rising, so too has the number of new businesses starting up.
Start-ups and small businesses need professional help with things like:
- Business planning.
- Website development.
- Marketing campaigns.
- Social media presence.
- Project planning and management.
- And much more…
Outsourcing has become popular. Many business coaches now advise you to focus on your strengths and outsource the rest.
The logic is that if you’re good at making widgets you should concentrate just on making widgets. Widget-making is the thing that makes you money; all other activity is peripheral and secondary. You shouldn’t get distracted by giving time to other things. Pay someone else to do it. They’re likely to do a better job and do it quicker. You should make best use of your time.
A consequence of following such advice is the trend for businesses to seek out consultants and freelancers they can outsource work to. In the past, they were often limited to working with local agencies based in expensive offices. However, the internet has removed the geographical barrier and today’s computing power and software has eliminated the technological barrier. You’re now likely to be approached by well-matched clients who don’t just live the other side of your country – they may come from the other side of the world.
Another recent development includes freelance work websites such as UpWork.com and Guru.com. Growing at an amazing rate, they contain a breadth of consulting projects for people with specialist skills. Their popularity clearly demonstrates a growing demand for freelance consulting services.
Other reasons why some businesses prefer working with freelance consultants include:
- Freelancers often undercut the pricing of larger agencies because they don’t have significant office overhead costs to pass on to the client.
- Freelancers are usually able to respond more quickly and flexibly than larger companies.
- Business people prefer to deal with the people who actually do the work. They don’t want to liaise through a sales manager or worry that their job will be passed on to the office junior because it will be ‘a good training exercise’.
Businesses are still buying professional services. Start-ups are growing at a fast rate. Large employers are seeking freelance consultants to meet their skills gaps. Modern technology enables you to provide quality services in a way previously not possible – often at no or little cost to you.
In some ways, now isn’t just a good time to start a professional consulting business, it’s possibly the best time…