Consulting ? Is it in YOUR Career Future?

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
Re: Consulting – Is it in YOUR Career Future?

Primarily a "bump" to resurrect this thread.

In a related vein, every day brings more and more news of layoffs and "rightsizing."

I'd like to suggest many of the organizations laying off full-time workers STILL need many of the functions those workers used to supply. Consider what functions those organizations are likely to still need. Can you provide those functions? If yes, TELL THEM (marketing) because they won't find you if you are sitting on your deck enjoying the last days of summer.

Tell us how YOU are generating consulting business during this low economic period.
 

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
Re: Consulting – Is it in YOUR Career Future?

Another "bump" - motivated by some conversations with friends about a mutual "acquaintance" who is struggling to develop a consulting business after losing his job as a quality professional. Apparently, the guy has a ton of personal baggage which is affecting his ability to proceed efficiently. His ego seems to be too big to admit that, though he knows a lot about quality issues, he is very naive about running a consulting business.

Take a lesson:
Nobody (not even I;)) is so smart and knowledgeable he knows everything about everything. I seek advice from other professionals all the time. Best of all, I recognize when I am in over my head and am never too proud to ask for someone to throw me a life preserver.
 
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Mary McD

Re: Consulting – Is it in YOUR Career Future?

Note (Jan 2, 2009): I have "bumped" this thread because it seems VERY pertinent in today's economy.
Consulting – Is it in YOUR career future?


In my experience over the last forty years, every time there is a downturn in the economy and full-time jobs seem to become scarce, a lot of folks think they can easily join the ranks of those “high paid consultants” they hear about and occasionally see as shadowy figures talking and dealing with top managers at their organization.

Reason for this thread:
Many of my colleagues and associates around the world actually ARE those high paid consultants who deal with the top managers at organizations. When we talk and correspond, one of the main topics that comes up almost every time are the folks who hold themselves out to be “consultants,” but the only thing “consultant” about them is the title they put on a business card. Often we say, “What a shame this guy is so clueless about how to be a REAL consultant.” And then we jump to another topic and mentally dismiss the person from further consideration. On a few occasions, we say, “Wow! That guy is a menace to the profession. He’s so bad, his stink rubs off on the rest of us!” But again, we do nothing, because our “professional ethics” prevent us from bad mouthing a competitor in public, even a stumblebum who gives the word “consultant” a bad taste in anyone’s mouth who crosses his path.

Just this week, we started on another “insider talk” about such “consultants” and I finally said, “Maybe we need a school on how to be a consultant. Then we could just suggest to these guys that they go to school.”

“Yeah!” they laughed. “You create the school and we’ll refer them! Ha! Ha!”

Well, I can’t create a school, but I can create a thread that folks can read and do a little self-assessment and gap analysis to see where they stand on the road to being a successful full-time consultant in ANY field, not just the Quality profession.


Hi Wes,

Yes, we've had the same discussion in our group of consultant friends - in fact, I was working with someone (who I've lost touch with now) and we had actually put together a business plan for "Consultant School" - teaching everything from basic business (setting up a business, getting website, bookkeeping, etc.) to business etiquette to accreditations (reference list of accreditations and where/how to get them). Unfortunately, other priorities got in our way, and we never executed that plan. Sounds like it might be time to dust it off... hmmm....

Regards,
Mary F. McDonald
 
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tomvehoski

Re: Consulting – Is it in YOUR Career Future?

I'm back looking at this decision again after getting laid off a couple weeks ago. I've actually been doing full time process improvement work in the auto industry for the last five years, but I consulted for about five years before that for two different firms - one a husband/wife start up, the second a mid-size accounting/tax firm. I had burned out on the small shop "we just want the ISO flag" mentality. With manufacturing dying at the time in Michigan, plus my firm setting my bill rate at $150 per hour (had to cover that suite at Joe Louis Arena and my nice office I was never in) I couldn't compete against independents charging half what I had to.

I'm not bound by no-compete agreements any more, so I'm thinking about trying to set up my own thing. For the most part I enjoyed consulting (other than the occasional PIA client).

What are those of you already out there seeing? Is demand for consulting up with quality departments downsizing? Or are you losing business with plant closings and cost cutting?
 
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georgereid

Re: Consulting – Is it in YOUR Career Future?

Wes,

Thanks for the clarification on consulting and contracting. I don't know if you will be trying to keep this site purely for consulting and consultants or if you will allow contracting and contractors here also.

I have been contracting for many years and do much work in my home office but also some customers require that I sit in their building and use their resources. I'm a mechanical engineer who does 3D modeling, 2D drafting and sometimes 2D isometric illustration for technical manuals. I'm usually left free to search out the information I need to get the job done. The smaller companies are happy to email their requirements (drawing changes) and I do them and return it to them by email.

Of course, this requires a long relationship which allows them to trust me in nearly everything, although I keep in close touch with their engineers. Most of them are my friends. Marketing for me is to regularly call them to see what they are doing and to suggest how I can help them.

My business, Reid Engineering Services, is licensed in my own city (Ogden, Utah) and I work for several companies in this area. We have four large companies plus a US Air Force Base and its supporting vendors who are my customers.

The work is varied such as the design of auto airbags, aircraft hydraulic actuators, electronic test equipment and pilot and maintenance trainers. I also do quite a bit of tool design.

Sorry for the long post (resume/advertising). I will be watching your site for a while to see if I really fit in here.

Great Idea for a website, keep it up,

George Reid
 

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
Re: Consulting – Is it in YOUR Career Future?

Wes,

Thanks for the clarification on consulting and contracting. I don't know if you will be trying to keep this site purely for consulting and consultants or if you will allow contracting and contractors here also.

I have been contracting for many years and do much work in my home office but also some customers require that I sit in their building and use their resources. I'm a mechanical engineer who does 3D modeling, 2D drafting and sometimes 2D isometric illustration for technical manuals. I'm usually left free to search out the information I need to get the job done. The smaller companies are happy to email their requirements (drawing changes) and I do them and return it to them by email.

Of course, this requires a long relationship which allows them to trust me in nearly everything, although I keep in close touch with their engineers. Most of them are my friends. Marketing for me is to regularly call them to see what they are doing and to suggest how I can help them.

My business, Reid Engineering Services, is licensed in my own city (Ogden, Utah) and I work for several companies in this area. We have four large companies plus a US Air Force Base and its supporting vendors who are my customers.

The work is varied such as the design of auto airbags, aircraft hydraulic actuators, electronic test equipment and pilot and maintenance trainers. I also do quite a bit of tool design.

Sorry for the long post (resume/advertising). I will be watching your site for a while to see if I really fit in here.

Great Idea for a website, keep it up,

George Reid
As others here will attest - I differentiate, but I don't discriminate, a subtle, but important distinction.

Our primary focus here in the Cove is Quality - for customers, regulators, bosses, but most importantly, for ourselves. We take pride in our work, however grand or small, because we know each part matters in the grand scheme.

Many companies cannot afford to keep full-time employees on the payroll for the occasional expertise they provide - hence the necessity for part-time or temporary workers to fill those roles when and where needed.

My primary function here in these "occupation forums" is to help folks be as efficient as possible in filling those roles or hiring others to fill them. In the machining business we had a mantra - the right machine for the right job - it would have been just as stupid to put a machine that could hold 50 millionths of an inch tolerance to work turning shafts with a tolerance of plus or minus one-tenth of an inch as to try to hold tolerance of 50 millionths of an inch with a 60-year-old Browne & Sharpe lathe.

If the mantra is true for machines, it is certainly true for human beings and their skills, training, and experience. The primary difference is the guy knows when he is doing work above or below his skill, but the machine doesn't.

Here in the Cove, we point the way so a guy can move up the food chain with confidence. In Quality, we put a lot of emphasis on conducting a gap analysis to determine the gap between the present state and the desired future state The concept is just as valid with humans as with processes or organizations. Once the gap is identified, we're ready with all the information you need to fill that gap.

Welcome to the Cove, George Reid!:bigwave::bigwave:
 
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alspread

Re: Consulting – Is it in YOUR Career Future?

Consulting – Is it in YOUR Career Future? Ithink so/I hope so.

I knew there was a reason that I came back to the Cove. I was never an active "poster", but I was always interested in what everyone else was saying.

I found this post very informative for my own situation. I have always toyed with the idea of going out on my own as a consultant and auditor, but I couldn't give up the security of that regular check and benefits for my growing family.

Well now my kids are grown and starting there own families and I'm preparing myself to take the plunge. I've seen my wife build her business and now I think I'm ready to try my hand at it.

I have worked in Aerospace quality engineering and management for almost 30 years. I've put together multiple AS9100 manuals and developed quality information systems, corrective action programs, training programs; you name it throughout my career.

I'm not looking to make my first million (I gave up on that years ago). For me it’s more of a quality of life issue. I would like to maintain my standard of living and, hopefully, have enough work to be able to select how much I want to do.

Don't misunderstand me here. I'm not ready to retire (far from it) and I'm not afraid of some hard work. It’s just that I think I'm ready for a change after all those years in the plant. I think I can turn this experience and training into a viable business that others will find useful.

My plan; take a couple of years to get might stuff together. Build a little nest egg of cash, get my AS9100 AEIA auditor certification, start doing some side/part time jobs, and then make the break. Get lots of advice from wherever I can get it: this forum, sba.gov, SCORE, and other local resources available from the state community colleges. I like the idea of the gap analysis, and some of your other recommendations.

Thanks for the insight. Wish me luck, and any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Now that I'm back to the forum, I hope to be a more active participant.
 
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Phiobi

Re: Consulting – Is it in YOUR Career Future?

P.S. And when the economy slows is exactly NOT the time to think of becoming a consultant. That's when companies look for ways to cut costs, and any external consultants/contractors are easy cuts that immediately improve cash flow.

I hope this statement is not true!! I have decided to become both a consultant and contractor during this financial crisis for the exact reason that people look to cut costs... the pattern I have seen here in the UK is that companies are cutting back on employing people for "compliance" work and have started to engage contractors / consultants on a short term or project basis instead.

Again, I hope this statement is not true :mg:
 
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pasoski

Re: Consulting – Is it in YOUR Career Future?

i have enjoyed this discussion.it is really insightful.my conclusion:we cannot all be consultants or contractors.i think it is better to know your strenght and exploit it fully.there are many roads to a market!!!!!!!!!!!get in as a consultant or otherwise
 
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