As the economy worsens and people are laid off, won't that increase the number of people who call themselves "consultants"?
Yes, it is easy for someone who has been laid off to put up a shingle and call themselves a consultant. However, maintaining a consulting practice means continually delivering value over a long time. To become a professional consultant does require more than just the desire or happenstance of "doing a little consulting."
If you are worried about competition, then consider this a good thing. You probably work hard to develop your professional consulting skills and behaviors, including certification or achieving a national reputation in an industry or discipline. Tough economic times create opportunities as well as risks for consultants. Many consulting firms go out of business when times are tough, just as many new firms are formed.
Seek out new consultants to find out which ones will make valuable partners and which ones do not (yet) have the fully developed skills and behaviors of a professional consultant. At a minimum, look for opportunities to take on new partners and evaluating the continued value of current partners. Tip:
Rather than fear or resent new consultants, welcome new consultants into your network and professional associations to evaluate where their knowledge and skills might be useful to you and your clients. However, remember that consulting is a profession and select your colleagues from the professionals, not just those with some experience. If you know skilled individuals who you think might make excellent consultants and who are considering such a move into consulting, suggest that they join an organization like IMC to develop the consulting competencies, behaviors and ethics of a professional consultant, in effect turning an expert into a consultant. © 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA