Today there is more opportunity than ever for Project management professionals to leverage their experience and skills to become independent consultants.
Project management is critical to organizational success. It encourages business growth. Companies invest in projects to grow as a business and expand product offerings. And project managers supervise all aspects of a project from inception to completion.
With the help of independent consultants, many businesses achieve specific objectives and stay agile in the ever-changing market.
Independent project management consultants choose their own clients, set their own pay, and manage their time and work-life balance.
To succeed as a project management consultant, you need to develop the required skills, knowledge, and experience through hard work. These are a few things you need to get right to successfully make it as an independent project management consultant.
Invest in your skills
Skill is a basic foundation. To be a project management consultant, expertise in project management is required as well as recognition for having that expertise. You have to develop reliable expertise and finely-honed skill sets. In addition, you need leadership, communication, and interpersonal skills.
Many colleges and universities offer degree and certificate programs in project management and related areas. Project management certification cost differs for every institution. Do your research and get the right certification. You can’t manage projects without it. Businesses can only work with you if they know you have the right experience for the job.
A bachelor’s degree is typically the minimum requirement for project management professionals, but a master’s degree may be beneficial for individuals who want to start their own consulting business or work with recognized brands.
Get the basics right
How are you going to position yourself as an expert? Start marketing yourself. You need to spread the word and convince potential clients you have what it takes to deliver their project successfully. Build a personal brand.
Build a functional website that explains what you can offer. Articulate a positioning strategy, examining key industry trends and market needs, and objectively sell your strengths. You do not need to invest in office space; that can come after you have successfully managed a few projects. Get the right project management apps to manage your projects.
Focus on finding your first contract – paying work is the best way to stay on the happy path of independence. Consider offering a promotional rate to land your first few projects.
Figure out how to charge for your services. You may want to bill by the hour, the job, a retainer or even a combination. Look to the market and figure out how other consultants in your area of expertise are charging for their services.
Understand your risks and legal obligations. Work on your Contracts and proposals, with all terms, conditions, deliverables, and measures of completion clearly defined.
Create a plan for dealing with billing, expenses, and taxes. You have to make time for these administrative functions. As an independent consultant, you are now responsible for doing your own taxes, invoices and managing your finances in general.
Build the right network
Credibility means a lot in business. Every project management consultant needs a network of professionals, businesses, and clients to succeed. Start building a well-established, wide-ranging network of clients, colleagues, and peers you can draw on to help you find new work and endorse your skills.
Develop and nurture your network, as this will be your best and most likely source of work.
Some of the best places for project managers to network include industry conferences, seminars, and other events. You can also get involved with professional organizations in your industry or area of expertise.
As a project management consultant, your success and continued business are based on sound client relationships. Reputation is everything to an independent consultant, so keep nurturing relationships. Never oversell your abilities or over promise on what you can deliver.