A consultant is a professional who sells his expertise in one or more fields to clients for:
- Evaluate their practices
- Identify their problems and their solutions
- Advice on possible solutions
Consultants usually act as advisors but may also be called upon to respond to any other type of situation where their expertise may be required. For example, a consultant could be called to help implement recommendations, provide training sessions in their area of expertise, participate in the planning of a corporate strategy, develop advertising material, evaluate accounting methods, etc.
Hiring a consultant can be a cost-effective alternative for companies that do not yet need a full-time employee but require periodic expert assistance.
Consultants can work:
- For large surgeries
- For shops (small specialized companies)
- As independent contractors.
Consultants are usually hired on a contractual basis. However, in some companies, consultants may be hired on a permanent basis until their commitment ends. In small consulting firms, it is highly likely that consultants are engaged on a contract basis. Their employment ends when the project ends. The same thing applies to independent contractors.
Consultants must go through the same start-up process as any other entrepreneur: business registration, business number acquisition, company tax reporting, and so on.
Do you have what it takes? When you become a consultant, you make the leap from employee to entrepreneur. You start a real business that requires:
- Expertise : Your unique skills are the product of your business.
- Knowledge of business practices and management : this includes accounting, sales, and organizational and time management skills.
- Self-awareness, dynamism, perseverance, confidence, ability and willingness to work independently for hours, sometimes sacrificing personal time.
- Interpersonal skills : Establish, develop and maintain relationships with clients. You must be able to gain a thorough understanding of the needs by being sensitive, insightful and being an attentive listener. You must build trust by meeting all your commitments with work of exceptional quality and in an atmosphere of confidentiality.
Businesses, government and non-profit organizations hire consultants for their expertise, and to help identify, analyze and solve problems. Consultants provide an unbiased perspective from the outside and allow employers to continue their day-to-day activities. Consultants are often hired to:
- Conduct research, analyze and summarize data and predict trends.
- Create or improve models and processes and recommend changes.
- Evaluate models and methods and communicate ideas or motivate employees.
- Identify ways to save money or obtain grants or funding.
You must know all the rules and regulations that apply to your area of expertise. Remember that some projects may require you to learn more about rules and regulations in addition to your experience. You must be informed about the changes applied to the legislation and that could affect your business.
Specific municipal conditions may apply depending on the city where you are. Each municipal government has the authority to issue its own licenses to businesses. Since there is no uniformity across the country, you should consult local authorities to find out if your company will be affected by local regulations and conditions of grant. Businesses (including home-based businesses) must also comply with zoning regulations that control the use of the property.
The licenses, permits, and regulations that may apply to you when you start your consulting business are as follows: