Learning about consulting
Updated: Nov 1, 2021
Before I went into consulting I did my best to get as much information as I could absorb and to learn from consultants, books, and websites.
The books I recommend, below are ones that I have read and found to be very useful. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Learning new ways to move toward self employment
One of the earliest inspirations was a website on changing course. The woman who owned the website had been a business executive with a really long commute to and from work. She had had enough and quit her job. She was inspired by Barbara J. Winter, who had written a book called "Making a Living Without A Job." This introduced me to the idea that you could just go out on your own and live by your wits.
More important was the idea that you could establish multiple streams of income rather than having a single job. For example, if you have 10 streams of income that each provide about the same amount of income over a year, and you lose one of them, you would only lose 10% of your income. If you have a job and you lose it, you would mostly lose all of your income,
While you could do house sitting, grow and sell vegetables seasonally, and whatever, why not start consulting on the side? This could be another stream of income.. While earning a living without a job by developing multiple streams of income was not a common way of doing things at that time, many influencers on social media and YouTube mention it nowadays.
Beginning to understand business
Another major influence on my thinking about becoming a consultant happened when I saw a book in a bookstore many years ago, "The E-myth revisited" by Michael Gerber. He had helped thousands of people to develop or improve their businesses.
In his book was the story of a young woman, who had a knack for making pies, which she had learned from her grandmother. Everyone had told her that she was so good at making pies that she should start a business to do it. The book is written in the form of a story, but I learned so much from it, and became very interested in business, though I was working in research at the time. I went on to read many of his books.
The realization I could work anywhere, including home
My thinking changed further when I encountered a book by Tim Ferris, "The Four Hour Work Week." Again, I was in one of my favorite haunts, a bookstore, when I had a chance to unwind. When I saw the title, I was very intrigued. What he wrote about was mind boggling and to me it was a revelation. The idea of leveraging the internet, automating your life, and having virtual assistants help you to get things done was intriguing and changed my thinking even more about business.
Beginning to understand the world of consulting
Still, as a person with some expertise, I was still thinking about moving into consulting. Then I began to look for books on consulting. Books on consulting abound, but of the many I read, "Consulting for Dummies" was enjoyable, and despite the name had good content. Though, the best book that I read was "Getting Started In Consulting" by Alan Weiss. His approach was impressive. I learned a lot from his books and from his presentations online.
Applying new knowledge of business and consulting in my job
In my "day job," I looked at all processes that were accessible to me using what I had learned from Michael Gerber's books and materials online to examine everything from a business point of you. I was in research, not business, but it was helpful to look at the business of research. I also watched closely the consulting aspects of people's work. Often we turn to others for advice. We know that different people are good for advice on some topics but not others.
Moving into the business world
An opportunity arose to move from the world of academic research to doing research in industry and to develop new products. From all of the reading and application of what I had learned, it was a seamless change. Still, there was much to learn.
The major difference between research in industry versus academia was the focus on the viability of the product in the marketplace. In academia, an interesting research finding, even a negative result may be followed up to better understand why. Also, a small but significant research finding may be worth pursuing. In industry, if the finding does not move a product forward or if it makes it clear that it would not be commercially viable, the program will generally be dropped.
Within industry, they did provide good training opportunities, and it is important to gain the best training and skills that you can and keep learning and improving. Within industry, people shared their research more openly within the confidentiality of the organization than in the publish of perish environment of academia.
A surprise was that many businesses had poor systems and processes. Sometimes these were better in academia. Start up companies were building the plane while they were flying it. Large companies tended to make slow decisions as they passed through the internal bureaucracy.
The move to independent consulting
On the side, I had gone through the necessary steps to establish my own company. When all the pieces were in place, I began to do a small amount of consulting. Then, more than a decade ago, I moved out on my own. After a month, my only regret was that I had not made the move a few years before.
For more information on getting started as a consultant visit: https://www.consultsinfo.com/get-started