If you’re considering going independent, one big question you should ask is: are my skills in demand? Building a successful business is not only dependent on having great service offerings, but you also have to find and maintain a consistent pipeline of work as well.
The following are five popular industries for independents—but don’t worry if your work doesn’t fall into one of these categories. A unique skill or service offering, a strong network of contacts, and the ability to market yourself as an expert in your field are the stepping stones to a successful independent consulting career in whatever field you choose.
In today’s ever-growing project-based economy, more companies are looking to outsource information technology projects. As a result, technology consulting has become a high-demand industry. IT consultants often specialize in a specific area such as electronics, computer science, or management information systems.
As more industries begin to utilize technologically advanced solutions, IT consultants will become even more important. Whether it's developing a new type of customer database or programming a new website, this type of technical expertise will continue to be a valuable asset to potential clients.
Many businesses today have a priority to be as “green” as possible. If you have a passion for the environment or a background in science, you can easily focus your company on sustainability or eco-friendly business. This field is very broad, encompassing everything from construction to government compliance.
In particular, a wealth of opportunities exist for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) consultants, who can help individuals and businesses achieve LEED accreditation. An environmental consultant will generally have an advanced degree in environmental science or environmental engineering with extensive knowledge of environmental regulations.
A management consultant is generally brought into an organization to resolve an operational problem or to enhance business efficiency. As an industry, management consulting has been around for a long time and will likely continue to be an area of high demand.
Management consultants come from a variety of educational and work backgrounds, although most have an MBA. Typical backgrounds for effective management consultants include economics, business, or mathematics, but because management consultants do a little bit of everything it’s also okay to have work experience outside of these fields.
A political consultant, or political strategist, assists and advises candidates in political campaigns. While election season is the busiest time for political consultants, they can be hired in between election cycles for communications advice. Political strategists have a major hand in developing media campaigns, and may also be involved in vote polling and research.
Accounting is a skill that will always be in demand as all businesses—large and small—need help in this department. Most accountants have a degree in accounting or business, or are a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Accounting consultants can work with companies on all of their financial needs from making sure they follow financial law and taxes to drafting financial statements.
If these industries don’t apply or appeal to you, don’t worry—independent consulting is a fast-growing and high demand field in and of itself. One of the great benefits of being an independent is that you can pursue whatever you are passionate about, no matter what the industry.
If you’re trying to determine what your services should be, research the general industry your skills fall under, see what’s in demand, and configure your services to match market needs. By consistently producing great work for your clients, you will quickly build your network as well as a successful business.