Before I start, I must explain the concept of “easy money making”. It is not actually possible to make large quantities of money easily, without a lot of effort and investing huge sums of money in the first place. No, what we are trying to achieve is an easy way to make just “some” money and, with care and diligence, potentially turn this little into a lot. It is actually very easy to earn something from working as a consultant, and is something everybody can do. The difficult part is developing a healthy business that provides the sort of income you are seeking.

Drawbacks

Consultancy is a term used to catch all the service businesses that involves a person providing their knowledge and understanding of a particular field to somebody who needs that information or service providing. If you have specialist knowledge you can use this to undertake work for a client, receiving a payment in return.

The business you are conducting is restricted by the amount of time you have to perform the work requested. Thus if you are asked to write a report about the feasibility of importing cheese from Iceland into Canada you will be providing a number of hours or days that are needed to undertake that work. Because it is your specialised area of expertise – Icelandic Cheese exports – clients are prepared to pay you a certain hourly or daily rate to do that work.

However, there are only so many hours in a day or weeks in a year – thus restricting the amount of work you can do and money you can earn. The concept of “gearing” your business is much harder to apply to consultancy. That is not to say it is not possible. There are many very large multi national consulting groups that each employ 100s or 1000s of consultants each charging many $100s or even $1000s per hour for their expertise. But whatever the rate, each consultant has a finite earning capability based on the hours he can work and the rate he can command. Therefore, as a business opportunity that you might be seeking, bear in mind the limitations imposed by these constraints. Having said this, setting 1,200 hours as a target for work to be carried out at say $100 to $200 dollars an hour – would not result in a particularly high annual consultant’s income!

What can you do?

There are many people who will skip this chapter. The word consultancy conjures up an image of a learned professor providing the benefit of his decades of study and research. This is wrong – consultants are employed in all walks of life to do a multitude of different tasks. In fact, there is a general trend to outsourcing by not only the bigger corporations but many smaller and medium sized businesses are also moving in this direction. So – in fact not many businesses will do their own cleaning. Would you consider becoming a cleaning consultant?

Anything that you know a little more about than the client can be sold as consultancy. Therefore, you must consider what you currently know as a starting point. Do not worry if you are not an expert – you can upgrade your skills as you develop your business. You just need to pick an area that you either know something about or you are keen to learn about.

Example 1

John worked as corporate banker for many years. His job was stressful and he hated travelling into work sometimes six days a week to sit in a glass box in front of several computer screens. He was desperate to run his own business but knew he could not set up a “bank” and really wanted to get away from the cut and thrust of the banking world.

He had always been reasonably numerate, working with money and figures demanded this. He fancied setting up a bookkeeping business in his neighbourhood. It was a respectable area and many of his wealthy bosses lived nearby. There were also a lot of smaller boutique businesses not far away that had chosen to set up outside the city where he used to work. He wondered if he could provide consulting services that provided basic accounting services to these people which would allow them to reduce their dependence on the larger accountancy firms and the exorbitant fees he knew they charged.

A two week bookkeeping and basic accountancy course was a good investment and introduced him to a number of the lecturers who were able to advise him on the accountancy market. In the process of this research and learning he discovered that there was a demand for somebody who understood business banking and was able to throw together draft business figures. He found that he was being asked to undertake pre-feasibility studies for small and medium sized businesses – which he could do at very attractive rates while still earning a relatively good income themselves. A typical job would involve a business asking him to look at the synergy between themselves and a target they wanted to buy – John would charge $3,000 for a weeks work and save the business $10,000 of their otherwise $30,000 bill when they came to raise the finance and do due diligence. Not only that, John found that he was picking up the odd retainer here and there with clients that had appreciated his direct and friendly approach – and unique mix of skills.

Example 2

Lydia had worked in a department store on and off for 20 years, while bringing up her two children and helping to add a reasonable wage to her husband’s salary. She always wanted something she could call her own, and being a keen amateur artist decided that her experience of household furnishings could be used to build an interior design consultancy. To start out she offered her services to a couple of friend who were remodelling. Using the experience she put together a package for a business that included a small brochure, a modest website and a corporate identity.

It was a struggle at first to find clients, and Lydia ended up helping another couple of friends for free. However, being busy helped with the momentum, and the word gradually got around that she listened to what her clients wanted who were very happy with the results. It was word of mouth that helped Lydia build her business, a very powerful marketing tool indeed.

Example 3

Jean loved horse riding but did not like her day job. She wondered if she could make a living teaching riding but decided that this would be too low paid to provide a reasonable income for her. However, she realised that stable and riding school design was extremely big business and often carried out by architects who had little experience in such specialised areas. She began advertising as an “equine infrastructure consultant” and prepared a catch leaflet that was circulated around all the riding schools, stables and race tracks around the country.

Jean also had a secret weapon. She spoke Polish fluently and could get by in a number of Eastern European languages including Russian. This little extra allowed her to get a foothold in a number of establishments that were owned by foreign nationals or employed a number of the same. She found that she was travelling far and wide, in Europe, the UK and around the United States and Canada. Her life changed and she did not look back.

To be successful at consultancy you must develop a service that people want. You start with skills that you have and then find directions “add on” skill will take the business. These add on services can be other areas of interest or experience you have, or you can specifically add them to your repertoire having identified their need and saleability. Remember, if you know a little bit more than your client, you can convince them that you know a lot more. The missing bits you can fill in as you go along!

 

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