Many Information Technology professionals become dissatisfied with the corporate world and move into IT consulting. There are several benefits for computer consultants including a high income and flexible lifestyle. Their skills are always in demand – be it for home, small business, or corporate consulting.
If you are an experienced computer or network technician, starting a small business or corporate consulting business can be very profitable. You need the computer skills and the sales skills required for your consulting business to be a success.
Alternatively, you can start a consulting business and work through an existing larger consulting firm to help provide you with contracts. This is less profitable than if you are able to negotiate your own contracts, but may be able to provide you with more consistent work. Additionally, working for a larger consulting firm will free you up from having to deal with the non-billable side of the business such as sales, invoicing, and collecting from customers who don’t pay.
If you enjoy helping home users, there is a large need in the market for home computer consultants. Cleaning up viruses or adware could be one speciality. Home computer and software training is also in high need. This is largely a nighttime and weekend consulting business which may work great for you if you currently have a day job.
How Do I Get Started?
Becoming a computer consultant requires you have the proper training and knowledge necessary for whatever niche you are consulting in. One way you can demonstrate you have the necessary knowledge is by getting certified. A home consultant, at a minimum, should pursue the CompTIA A+ Certification. The A+ Certification is an entry level certification. Learnthat.com has several free resources to help you pass the A+ exams, including a free A+ 2006 Certification Tutorial.
Most consultants enter the business having the necessary knowledge and experience in the niche they are pursuing. The second step in creating your consulting firm is to decide the niche you will be pursuing. As a new IT consultant, you should not try to be everything to everyone – you will fail at creating a marketplace for your services. You should focus on one niche area for one market segment, such as:
- Consulting services setting up home computers and networks. Focused on home users who are inexperienced with computers and desire help setting up and configuring their PCs.
- Small business networking consulting. IT consulting business focused on network installation and configuration for small to medium size businesses.
- Complex database consulting for enterprise-size companies. Focused on providing Microsoft SQL Server consulting services for complex database architectures.
- .NET programming for medium size companies. An application development consultant focused on providing Microsoft .NET programming for medium size companies.
All of these consultants have a niche for their consulting practice and focused market segment. Developing this niche will help you focus on what you do and don’t do as a consultant.
Once you have decided on your niche, read our articles on starting your own IT consulting firm.
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