If you're considering becoming an independent consultant, you should ensure that your personality matches your chosen career path. Below, we've compiled six specific personality traits that independent consultants should have or develop to ensure success.
A successful consultant has the ability to look at a challenge with excitement rather than apprehension - the word "can't" rarely comes up in a successful consultant's vernacular. Their can-do attitude stems from the fact that most successful consultants are extremely confident in their abilities, even when it comes to large or difficult projects.
Confidence to tackle difficult projects must also be accompanied by a realistic sense of what is actually possible. Successful consultants can offer clients realistic timelines for completion of work - even if that timeline is contrary to what the client would like to hear. If you try to squeeze a week's worth of work into two days, odds are you'll end up disappointing the client with poor-quality work or an extended deadline.
Motivation is an especially important personality trait if you're a consultant working from home. It's much easier to procrastinate when you're in the comfort of your own home, far away from anyone who can peek over your shoulder to see what you're doing. An unmotivated consultant isn't likely to complete projects in a timely fashion - which will lead to displeased clients who won't likely come back.
If you work with multiple clients, you'll have to balance multiple (often shifting) priorities. Occasionally, a client may call you at the last minute with a major change. As projects come and go, your income may fluctuate. If sudden change really throws you for a loop, consulting may not be the career path for you.
Becoming a successful consultant with a steady stream of incoming projects may not happen overnight. As with most things in life, you'll need to be patient and persevere to eventually achieve your goals. This patience also extends to your clients - you may have to thoroughly explain technical concepts multiple times (and they still may not understand), or you may find yourself working with a difficult client.
The health of your independent consulting business heavily depends on two things: your relationships with your current clients, and recommendations and endorsements from previous clients. Independent consulting isn't a great choice for an introverted or shy person. You may enter into a totally different company culture than what you've experienced before. You may field calls well after your working hours. If working on-site instead of from home, you'll need to be able to win over the trust of full-time employees, who may see you as an outsider or a threat at first. The best advice? A good sense of humor goes a long way.
Are you still unsure if you have the characteristics to be a successful consultant? Take our short online quiz to help assess whether you are ready to go solo. We provide you with resources to help prepare you for the industry if it's something you feel passionately about, but find you are not quite ready to take the leap.
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