Starting my own consulting practice a few years ago after coming out of industry management seemed like a way to cut back on work, but I am not finding it to be the case. Is this a function of the current economy or just the way independent consulting is?
The answer depends on your experience, selling ability, range of services relative to your local market and ability to use technology or outsourcing to more efficiently manage your time. Given the selling, delivery, professional development of consulting in general, plus practice management for the independent consultant, this is not a profession for those looking to cut way back on activity. Even under the best of circumstances, and a more robust economy, the best consultants (independent or not) do spend a lot of time on their profession.
A 2005 survey (still relevant) of independent consultants by Cadre Consultant Resources reveals that you are experiencing a common phenomenon. Independents work long hours for modest pay. One interesting finding is that nearly 40% of consultants are generalists with no specific niche or industry focus. About the same percentage of respondents found managing time and setting priorities was their biggest challenge to running a successful consulting practice. Take a look at the survey results
to see where you fit into these results. Tip:
Talk candidly to other consultants in your market about how they spend their time. At a minimum, this will calibrate your expectations. At best, it might give you some ideas and opportunities to more efficiently manage your practice.© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA