The Business of Consulting: The Basics and Beyond


Here's the book that all consultants, new and old, have desperately needed. Are you wondering: How to develop a business plan? How to market your business? How to charge for your services? How to build a client relationship? How to grow the business? How to ensure your continued professional growth? How to make money in the profession? The enclosed disk contains the work-sheets and forms presented in The Business of Consulting. Whether you're embarking on a new career as a consultant or whether you've been a ...
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Here's the book that all consultants, new and old, have desperately needed. Are you wondering: How to develop a business plan? How to market your business? How to charge for your services? How to build a client relationship? How to grow the business? How to ensure your continued professional growth? How to make money in the profession? The enclosed disk contains the work-sheets and forms presented in The Business of Consulting. Whether you're embarking on a new career as a consultant or whether you've been a consultant for years, you'll be able to employ these resources right away. And if you're deciding whether consulting is the right profession for you, The Business of Consulting will show you just what you can expect to encounter.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Here are the nuts and bolts for a successful career in consulting. A few hours with Elaine's book will save you years of trial and error." --Jerry C. Noack, , vice president/group publisher, TRAINING Magazine

"If I were just starting into the consulting field today, this is the one book I would choose to advise me, caution me, support me in my business, and 'professionalize' me!" --Marjorie Blanchard, , chief financial officer, Blanchard International

"Every consultant should apply her principled practices to guarantee satisfied customers." --John E. Gherty, , president and chief executive officer, Land O'Lakes

"This book is filled with real-world, practical and proven tactics that can be used to grow and build a successful consulting practice. It is a must-have resource for people who are thinking of becoming a consultant . . . and for those who already are one!" --Dana Gaines Robinson, , author; president, Partners in Change

"The Business of Consulting will serve as my consulting practice workbook. The comprehensive coverage of the subject--along with the practical tips--make it the best tool I have." --Pam Schmidt, , vice president, American Society for Training and Development (ASTD)

"Read her book. She shares all her secrets!" --Gail Hammack, , regional vice president, McDonald's

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780787940218
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/28/1998
  • Series: Business and Management Series
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 8.19 (w) x 9.47 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Meet the Author

Elaine Biech is president and managing principal of ebb associates, inc., a strategic implementation, leadership development, and experiential learning consulting firm. She has consulted to a diverse range of industries including health care institutions, insurance, banking, ship building, manufacturing, government, and nonprofit organizations. Biech is the author and editor of dozens of articles and books including Marketing Your Consulting Services, Training for Dummies, and 90 World-Class Trainers.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: What Are You Getting Yourself Into?

"A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new."

Albert Einstein

Have you ever admired consultants who zip into a company, capture everyone's attention, accomplish in days what you've been struggling with for months, and waltz out with a big check?

Ever thought you might like to be a part of that glamorous profession? This book will help you determine whether you have what it takes to be a consultant, as well as whether the consulting profession offers what you desire as an individual.

What is Consulting

Consulting is one of the fastest growing businesses of the decade. In The Global Management Consulting Marketplace: Key Data Forecasts and Trends (1997), Kennedy Information, the leading source on management consulting, predicts that management consulting will grow an average of 16.1 percent globally per year through the year 2000. Whether companies need help downsizing, installing a new computer system, building an executive team, or breaking into the Chinese market, they can call a consultant to assist with the effort. The organization re-questing the assistance is usually called the "client.') The term can refer to the en-tire organization or to the person who actually made the call.

Consulting is the process by which an individual or a firm assists a client to achieve a stated outcome. The assistance can come in the form of information, recommendations, or actual hands-on work. A consultant is a specialist within a professional area who completes the work necessary to achieve the client's desired outcome.

Consulting is not a descriptor that identifies a profession in itself Unlike doctors or accountants, highly skilled consultants come from very different backgrounds. A qualifying adjective is required to identify the form of service or the area of expertise, for example, management consultant, engineering consultant, or performance consultant. Although consulting is not a "profession" by definition, it is often referred to as "the consulting profession." For the sake of convention, I will refer to the "profession" in this book.

The actual work of a consultant can vary quite a bit, depending on the area of expertise offered. Every consultant must be a subject-matter expert in some area-management development, organization development, training, or any profession, such as computers, security, writing, marketing, or a thousand others.

Even after you determine an area of expertise, you will want to select the actual work method. For example, if you decide to focus on the training field, you could develop and deliver your own material or subcontract material development to another person while you deliver it. You could develop material for others or you could deliver others' materials. You could even be certified to deliver others' courses, especially for the large training supplier firms.

Finally, if you are a generalist, such as a management consultant, you will need to determine whether you will focus on a specific industry.

Four Ways To Get Started

Taking risks. Embracing ambiguity. Practicing flexibility. Balancing both process and people issues. Managing multiple responsibilities. Tolerating extensive travel. Communicating effectively. Learning continually. Proving your worth again and again. Does this describe you? If you responded with a resounding "Yes!," consulting may be an ideal career move for you.

If you decide consulting is right for you, what opportunities exist? Think about your ultimate goal. Do you want to be a partner in one of the "Big Six"? Will you eventually own your own firm? Do you think you will always want to consult as an individual? Do you want to teach part-time at a small university and consult on the side? There are at least four ways you could enter the field:

1. As an employee. Numerous employment opportunities exist for you. You could join a large national consulting firm. The demand for consultants has led to a fierce competition for talent. According to Kennedy Information (1997), M.B.A.s from top schools can expect to be offered a base salary over $90,000 as new consultants with such a firm. Joining a large firm will give you instant name recognition. You could also join a small firm. Although your salary would be only half what it could be with one of the Big Six, you would have less pressure, more opportunity for a variety of projects, and more involvement in the entire consulting process.
2. As a subcontractor. Rather than becoming an employee, you could subcontract with a firm. Many businesses and consulting firms are looking for subcontractors who will fill in the gaps left as a result of downsizing or launching new initiatives. As a subcontractor you may have a less secure position, but you will have flexibility while gaining rich experience and developing a sense of the market.
3. Part-time. If you're not ready to take the plunge, you could consult part-time while keeping your present job. Some people use their vacation time and weekends to conduct small projects-with their employers' approval, of course. Consulting is natural part-time work for college and university professors.
4. Self-employed. You could also start your own consulting practice. This book addresses this last opportunity.

Why Consulting Now?

Consulting is one of the fastest growing professional areas in the economy. Why? Why now?

Turbulent times have increased the number of times that consultants are used to help organizations make their way through the processes of implementing technology, going global, improving processes, and negotiating mergers. The consulting projects have increased in dollar amount and duration. It is not uncommon for large-scale projects to cost more than $50 million over a five-year period. As Charles Stein (1994) of the Boston Globe states, "Once upon a time, consultants were like dinner guests: They came for a brief visit, gave advice and went home. Now they are like guests who come for dinner, move into the spare bedroom, and stay for a year or two.'


Two trends in the business world have brought tremendous implications for consulting. First is the trend toward outsourcing more and more services. Corporations will continue to hire more temporary professionals to assist when needed, as opposed to adding highly paid, permanent staff. Consultants temporarily provide the "people power" to complete the work at the time it needs to be completed.

The second trend is that rapid changes occurring in the world make it almost impossible for the executive team to remain knowledgeable about their industry, remain focused on their customers, stay ahead of their competition, and know instantly what to do when these factors collide in a negative way. Consultants offer the knowledge, information, data, and systems to solve the puzzle. They fill in the blanks. When the task is complete, they are on their way.

That's the demand side. What about the supply side? The same organizations that are cutting permanent staff to keep payroll down are providing a steady sup-ply of people who need jobs and find that they can do consulting. In fact, many people cut from their jobs today may be placed in the same company as temporary employees.

Why this shuffling of the same bodies? Consultants are often more cost-effective for the organization, which can hire the skill it needs on an as-needed basis rather than train and educate staff for skills that may not be used again. Consultants can usually complete projects faster as....

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Table of Contents

List of Exhibits
1 What Are You Getting Yourself Into? 1
2 Talents and Tolerance 19
3 Dollars and Sense 35
4 Starting... 55
5 ...And Staying in Business 75
6 The Cost of Doing Business 121
7 Building a Client Relationship 147
8 Growing Pains 165
9 The Ethics of the Business 187
10 Exude Professionalism 197
11 Do You Still Want to Be a Consultant? 217
Reading List 235
About the Author 237
Index 239
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