While most people making a living as consultants are well meaning, qualified individuals, this does nothing to change the fact that consulting is unregulated; literally anyone can become a consultant. There are many ways someone can start a consulting practice, many of them completely legitimate – but be on the lookout for these 4 red flags when you’re conducting a search for your business.
1. Franchise Consultants
Organizations that sell consulting franchises – coaching, executive mentoring, president’s workshops, board groups are all focused fields – they sell a defined territory, usually geographic, and offer as little as a three to six day training seminar as part of the purchase price and then the consultant is off and running.
2. Cookie-Cutter Consultants
Organizations that sell training on how to be a consultant focusing on pre-packaged methodologies in a cookie cutter format.
3. Membership Fee Consultants
Organizations that sell memberships into associations that have like-minded individuals who pay a fee and then are allowed to claim membership as a credential. Often, the only criteria for becoming a member or franchisee of these consulting groups can be a valid credit card; very little; if any, due diligence is done to ensure the individual is capable of doing consulting assignments. These consultants, for the most part sole –proprietors are given some training in how to secure clients then set loose to develop their practice as best as they can.
4. The Hand-Off Consultant
Consulting Organizations have a sophisticated selling approach and closing techniques to land clients. A vast number of them focus all their attention on securing consulting clients, recruiting strong closers who use a compelling methodology to secure the client – often never to be seen by the client again.
The company then sends in a team of young recent graduates to do the analysis with complete disregard for the day to day needs of operating the company. They hand over a report and leave – after the cheque was given up-front to the closer.
The purpose of this article is not to disparage the entire consultancy industry, but rather to encourage caution when dealing with them, and to validate any firm’s credentials, references, and track record.
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