How to be an IT consultant or tips for getting into IT consulting? It’s a wonderful career path if you can pull it off. It’s not easy, it’s the hardest independent consulting and it’s a lot of long hours, it’s a lot of stuff that we don’t think about in terms of what costs hours such as billing and marketing and sales and just responding to folks that may never even give you a time. So, there’s a lot more to it than simply charging someone an hourly rate and getting work done for them but that being said it can be a very successful and very rewarding career. First, let’s know what are the tips.
Best Tips for IT consulting
Tip number one – is to keep your day job as long as possible so if you’re thinking about getting into IT consulting you might already have a job maybe it’s in the IT world maybe it’s not in the IT world and you’re looking to jump to consulting the best advice I can give you for someone who’s just starting out and hasn’t made the leap yet is hang on to that day job don’t start just yet right prepare yourself get your finances in order all of that sort of good stuff before you make the leap to consulting now what I did is while I was still working a fulltime job I went around my local community.
There are people that I know friends of mine that owned businesses that I admired in the community that I thought could use some IT assistance and I would approach them and offer them IT assistance you know after hours and on weekends and you know creating websites or doing a phone system or whatever the job might have been. It’s a learning experience it’s helping out people in the community and it’s making sure that good IT assistance gets out to the people that I feel are deserving of good IT assistance now what that did for me though is it gave me a small base of customers already established for when I jumped into full IT consulting.
Now those customers can be used in a number of ways. Number one – they can be used as referral business so if they already know me they know the work that I can do as soon as I jump into I Tunes whole thing I can go to each one of those customers and say “Hey listen, I’m doing this as a full-time job now so if you have any other businesses or friends that can use services you already know me, you already trust me please give me referrals out to your other you know other businesses”.
The second thing is you can ramp up the work that you do for those customers so once I went freelance these customers that use me for just smaller things they said you know I approached them I said listen I do this full-time now so do you have any extra work for me and often times they’re like yeah speaking of which here’s what we can have you do is you know to replace our phone system or build our website or whatever the case may be so it works out in a couple of ways but I definitely recommend starting small and just getting some customers local in your area. You know as many as you can handle in your after-hours work time I had about five or six customers that I was actively working with on a regular basis.
Tip number two – is to have a good amount of savings so you’re not going to be making money right off the bat. Maybe you will if you’re lucky but you can’t count on making money right off the bat what I would recommend is having one full year’s worth of salary available to you right so whatever you think whatever your living expenses are for a full year have that amount of money now you know it can last you up to a full year but you know over the course of the year hopefully you’ll be making some more money and you might be depleting that savings significantly at the beginning but as you start to supplement that with the actual income it’ll become less and less and you can probably stretch that out too.
You know two years or so to where you’re actually making money you can start putting it back into savings now how do you do that well? I mean it could be that you have to create a five-year plan. So it’s you know save up the money, limit your expenses today, don’t buy the fanciest car you know, don’t in the fanciest apartment or home you know, do whatever you can to do today to cut down your living expense spare them down as much as possible and if over the course of a certain amount of time you know, up to five years or whatever your plan is you can save up a year’s worth of salary then you are ready to make the jump into full-time IT consulting.
Another way is if you get some sort of windfall if you get an inheritance or the way that I started this business as I cashed out my 401k I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that everyone do that but that was what I had available to me and that’s what I chose to do but again you can’t count on making any money at all right off the bat don’t you’re not going to make any money so you’re going to be taking whatever your full month’s salary car payment house payment, food, etc., all of that is going to be coming out of savings initially that’s why tip number one is keep that day job as long as possible right overtime, of course, it will get better and you’ll be depleting savings less and less. The more money you make on a monthly basis.
Tip number three – so let’s say you’ve got a decent amount of savings you’re ready to rock and roll. You want to get started, you quit your day job what do you do well what I did and what I would recommend doing for any IT consultant and really I’m talking about IT consulting but this could be I guess any consulting what you want to do is cast a really wide net when I first started doing the consulting.
I would take any possible job that I knew I could do well websites phone systems networking computer repair just anything that got me hours and got me money I was taking that job now as the business grew and as I started to get more work in particular areas I was able to sort of spare down my services and focus on more niche solutions which require a more specialist you know contractor position or consultant position right so I started out by casting this wide net. I will do anything that you want me to do in IT and then as I got more and more business, I started focusing that into a narrow set of services that I provide all.
Tip number four – this is a big one. How do you get the word out about your consulting services, it’s similar to you know the third tip you also want to cast a wide net so when I first started I did Google AdWords I put out a newspaper ad I went door-to-door basically what it has to be is when you don’t have hours, to begin with, marketing is your full-time job. You don’t sit around waiting for people to come to you and expect that they’re going to just start paying you money for the services you have to get yourself out there and the way that you get yourself out.
There is going to probably vary from individual to individual based on what you’re comfortable with again I joined the Chamber of Commerce I went door-to-door I did Google AdWords I put ads in the newspaper I put ads on Craigslist I opened up a YouTube channel and what I found is out of all those different advertising you know the sort of avenues that I was going down YouTube is the one that started paying off the biggest for me. So that YouTube channel started bringing work in whereas like I had a newspaper ad running in the local newspaper for four months and I didn’t get a single call on that newspaper ad. Whereas I put YouTube videos out and people start calling me so it’s like okay well this doesn’t work, let’s go over here.
So just like when you cast a wide net of services and then start paring it down to what people are willing to pay for you can cast a wide net in advertising whatever you’re comfortable with and then start paring it down to what is actually working if you’re going door-to-door and you’re getting a lot of business by going door-to-door to businesses and selling your services but you also have a newspaper ad that’s not working cut off the newspaper ad and focus on the door-to-door sales but when you are first starting out marketing and advertising your services is your full-time job and I mean that very seriously if you don’t have billable hours for a particular day eight hours minimum needs to be spent marketing yourself in various ways.
Again, Craigslist building a nice-looking website. You know going door-to-door or any combination of all of these things. So, marketing is the number one thing and what you’re going to find out is over time once you start to build a customer base lore of your time is going to be spent on hourly billing and billing people from work that you’re doing and less of your time is going to have to be spent on marketing.