Anne Holland

SherpaBlog: Should You Become a Marketing Consultant? Quick Quiz

August 11th, 2008

This year, I suspect that marketers are considering becoming consultants more than at any other time in history. It’s due to a confluence of factors, including recession layoffs and insecurities, boomer demographics, and the work-from-home fad.Is consulting for you? Take this quick quiz:

#1. Networking
Are you the sort of person who instinctively networks with other professionals? Do you actively participate in industry associations or clubs? Do you have more than 50 LinkedIn connections? When you attend a live event, do you mingle with people from other organizations and make new connections or do you stick with people you already know?

#2. Self-Promotion
Are you comfortable with selling yourself? Do you promote yourself in your organization currently or is the CEO unaware of how great you are? Do you have a track record of publicizing your accomplishments or professional opinions? Have you done any successful public speaking? Have you gotten any press? Do you have a blog?

#3. Working Virtually
Have you worked from home for long periods before and gotten much more done than you would have at the office? Will your social life and need for human companionship still be satisfied without office interactions? Do you have a room to work in with a door that can be closed and a family who can respect that closed door?

#4. Business Travel
If you are planning on reaching out to clients and prospects that aren’t in your geographic corner, are you able to travel? Do you enjoy occasional travel, despite airport security lines and having to dress up in business-wear? Will your house, pets, kids be able to cope with your disappearance when a client needs you? Do you have the funds to front travel costs when clients won’t pay you back for 30 to 90 days due to accounting cycles?

#5. Power & Control
Consultants often have little control over which of their advice clients actually take and how it’s implemented. Are you OK with this loss of control over the final marketing product? Being subject to a client’s whims can be tough for marketers who are accustomed to having more power.

#6. Administration
Are you any good at paperwork and office management? As an independent contractor, you’ll spend more hours on administration, such as quarterly tax filings, billing, legal paperwork, software installation, and maintaining office supplies than you imagine. Also, will you happily cope if you have computer problems? If you’ve worked in a larger organization for most of your career, and you’re used to full IT, HR, and accounting support, going freelance may be your worst nightmare.

#7. Money
Are you switching to consulting because you strongly suspect the work will be more satisfying? Or is it just to earn some more dough? (People who are primarily driven by money often don’t do well as marketing consultants because their heart’s not in it.) Are you able to say, “You’ll have to pay me for that,” if someone asks you for free marketing advice? Do you have the chutzpah to ask for a decent rate and to raise rates when merited? (Hint: Have you been able to negotiate higher salaries for yourself at past jobs?).

If you answered “Yes” to questions in at least five of the points above, then you may have a consulting future ahead of you.

Next week, I’ll give some tips on how to start your own consulting business. In the meantime, if you’ve tried consulting and have advice for others considering the same path, please post it here. Thousands of marketers are considering becoming consultants this year and they need all the input from the Sherpa community they can get!

Relevant Sherpa article

So, You Want to Be a Marketing Consultant: 10 Personality Traits You Need, 5 You Don’t

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