IT Careers: Smart Steps for Starting Your Own Tech Consulting Business
When you’re first starting out as an IT consultant, there’s a lot to know. Fortunately, there’s a lot of good information out there on how to get going. This simple guide will cover the basics.
Reasons To Start an IT Consulting Business
According to this IT consulting company, there is one constant across all businesses – technology. Today, every business needs to be concerned with IT, because it drives networking and computers, it drives sales and inventory, and it obviously drives anything web-related.
But, when working with other companies as a consultant, not every business really realizes the importance of IT. That’s why so many IT consultants struggle when they’re first starting out.
They can’t get the client base they need. When you work with a staffing agency, you eliminate a lot of the hassles of running a consultancy businesses – namely, you eliminate lead capture problems.
- Raise the quality of every new client
- Work with pre-screened clients
- Tap into existing networks
- Simplify client acquisition
Working with a staffing agency allows you to raise the quality of every new client you work with, because the clients tend to be more professional. They are also pre-screened by a manager. Staffing agencies tend not to work with companies that can’t or won’t pay their bills, meaning that your client will probably make good on payment for services rendered.
When you work with a staffing agency, you don’t need to do much advertising, and the advertising you do is targeted to a pool of known interested “buyers”. This simplifies client acquisition.
Skills You Will Find Helpful
There are a lot of skills you’ll need to develop before you’re ready to work with clients, including:
- The specific skill you need as a consultant – what kind of IT support are you providing?
- General organizational skills
- Willingness to live with uncertainty
- Basic record-keeping, bookkeeping, and accounting
- Sales negotiations
- Personnel management
Of these, probably the most important is organizational skills, the consultation-specific skills you need to do your job, communication, and negotiation skills.
You should also be passionate about what you’re doing. It’s been said many times before, in many manuals and training guides, that having passion for your work is important. This cannot be overstated.
The reason passion is so important is that it provides the motivation for everything you do, even when you’re not feeling particularly motivated at that moment. Passion is a permanent orientation to your work – you don’t see your work as “just work.” You see it as something you love and something that you would likely do, even if you weren’t being paid as much money.
It’s something you love doing outside of a normal work context, not something you try to escape from on the weekends.
Do a lot of consultants out there lack this kind of passion? Yes, absolutely. Is it difficult to find that passion for this type of work? Sometimes, but it’s necessary. If you have any doubts, now is the time to bow out gracefully and find a new line of work.
Fair Rates For Work
There’s a lot of literature out there on what skills you need, but not a lot on how much you should charge. Start with what you think you should be making per year. Now, divide that up into a “per job” requirement.
So, for example, if you need $30,000 a year to live, and pay all of your bills, divide that amount by 1,000 and this would be a reasonable hourly rate. In this case, you would charge $30 per hour. If you think $75,000 is a reasonable salary for you, given your experience and education, then you’ll charge $75 per hour, and so on.
A standard client engagement agreement and working contract will suffice. The contract should specify how much you’re doing for the client, what you’re doing, how much you’re charging, when the work will begin and when you will have the work completed, where the work will be performed, and specific tasks that will need to be done to accomplish the client’s goals.
You may also want to include a standard NDA (non-disclosure agreement) for clients if you will be working with anything that’s sensitive on their network.
Licensing and Regulations
Thankfully, there aren’t too many regulations in this industry, but there are some. Be aware of any regulations concerning HIPAA if you’re consulting with a health care company. Also, be aware of any standard business licenses you need from your state or county for running a business.
You will likely need certificates as both an IT and possibly as a consultant.
Bottom line: Gather information, find a great source of coaching, and go for it.
About The Author
Jamie Ryder runs a small computer repair business part-time. An avid blogger, he enjoys sharing his insights by posting online. His articles can be found mainly on computer, business, IT and technology blogs.