October 02, 2008, 2:13 PM — Would you like to become an IT consultant, but youâ€™re not quite sure where to start? Or are you looking into how to become an IT consultant on behalf of a friend, family member, or colleague, and want to make sure he or she is on the right track?
Either way, the decision to become an IT consultant is not one that should be made lightly or impulsively. Thereâ€™s a lot that goes into becoming a successful IT consultant.
In this article, weâ€™ll look at 5 crucial business development issues you should be thinking about as you consider how to become an IT consultant.
1. Becoming an IT Consultant is a Lot Like Launching a Professional Services Business. While some mistakenly try to copycat the business models of large retail stores, large computer manufacturers, or skilled trades people, the business of being a successful IT consultant is more similar to that of a B2B (business-to-business)-focused accountant, attorney, or management consultant. So be sure to take time to carefully plan your professional image, so you come across as a trusted technology advisor...not a glorified computer repairperson.
2. Embrace Time Management. As an IT consultant, your time is essentially your inventory. You sell your technical expertise, business savvy, and time to those small business owners and managers that need sound professional technology advice and ongoing support and oversight. So you better get a handle on how you manage your time. To do so, consider diligently journaling where every 1/4 hour of your business week goes, so you can analyze what percentage is (a) sales and marketing, (b) billable client work, and (c) administrative and operations.
3. Proactively Select Your Target Prospects with Both Eyes Open. Many new IT consultants make the nearly-fatal mistake of trying to market to â€œeveryoneâ€ or â€œsmall businessesâ€. Both of these target markets are way too broad for most IT consultants. Consider narrowing down your focus by region, industry, company-size, and existing technology platform.
4. Focus on Long-Term Quality Client Relationships. Most new IT consultants spend way too much time and energy dealing with one-shot-deal, transaction-oriented customers, with very little potential for substantial repeat monthly business. Make sure you focus on those small business clients that value the ongoing support and oversight that you bring to the table, and have the needs and budget to consult with you on a regular basis.
5. Get to Know Other Trusted Business Advisors in Your Community. Because so many IT consultants copycat the wrong business models and target the wrong prospects, IT consultants often get burnt out and discouraged long before theyâ€™ve even scratched the surface on the best, repeat source of new clients around. Make sure you get to know and befriend other non-competing technology providers, accountants, attorneys, and management consultants in your area. Remember, these professionals already have a foot-in-the-door with the same decision makers youâ€™re trying to reach. Take other trusted business advisors to lunch or dinner. Get together for coffee or breakfast. Play a round of golf. Invite them to a baseball or football game. Whatever comes naturally to you. But make sure you get to know other trusted business advisors in your community. This way you can start building those crucial business-nurturing relationships that your IT consultant business absolutely, positively needs as soon as possible.
In this brief article, we introduced you to 5 crucial business development issues you need to consider on how to become an IT consultant. This way you can get your launch underway the right way, the first time around.
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