These 10 Success Levers Show You How to Become an IT Consultant Successfully
The insights you need to know and how to use incredible 'success levers' to become an IT consultant successfully. First I cover some basics, then the essentials in some detail, and as a bonus I’ll show you how to get resources that effectively coach you along the way, including some free resources.
Do you want to know how to start and run your own IT consultancy?
If “yes”, then this article gets you started with serious and practical information, and links to the best resource out there.
Not just general or light-weight information, we talk about ‘Success Levers’, the kind of knowledge to get and activities to do that are so valuable that they can make the difference between your IT Consultant Business success and failure.
Success Lever 1: You are already experienced – leverage it!
Firstly I’m not going to tell you to get a college degree or CompTIA A+ qualification; I’m pretty sure if you want to become an IT consultant you are already quite experienced.
If you are so early on in the process that you are still trying to learn how to become a computer technician, please see our popular article on How to Become a Computer Technician.
Having made that point, you might be pleasantly surprised that you don’t have to be a 25 year veteran to start your own business. But a few years’ experience is a must.
Think about it: to be an amazing resource for your client, all you really need to know is more than they do, which of course a few years in the industry will give you. Perhaps this is a little cynical, I admit,. Obviously your clients will be solution oriented, so it is best to have a good depth of knowledge and experience. But you don’t need to know it all – after all, you know no one really can.
I’ve much more information on how much experience you need, and how to use your experience (and to tap into the experience of others) further below.
Give me a lever long enough, and a place to stand it, and I can move the earth!
Success Lever 2: Plan your business for Success!
This wouldn’t be much of a guide on how to become an IT consultant if I didn’t mention planning.
Certainly you need to think about what actual services you can and want to provide. You also want to think about what your customers will need.
A free resource to help you:
I’m going to give you a link to a free resource that covers several things you will want to think about (including necessary experience) in some detail. It covers IT services topics to consider like:
- Computer Support
- Network Support
- Server Support, and
- Business Experience
I’ve heard several versions of the saying:
(or PPPP) and not all of the versions I've heard are clean!
But the message is the same. So true.
Here is the link: how to make your first $1000 as an it consultant-For FREE
(it will open in a new tab)
And while I’m introducing this mini-ebook, I can tell you it contains a section titled ‘IT Consulting verses Computer Repair’ which you'll see provides a valuable concept to keep in mind as you plan your business.
More on Success Lever 1: Experience!
Answered: How many years’ experience do you need?
I get asked this question quite a lot.
Or variations of it, like "I'm 32 years old and have been around computers all my life. Do you think I have enough experience to become an IT Consultant?"
It’s only natural to want to know whether your level of skill and experience is typical or appropriate compared to others starting their IT consulting business. I will answer this for you right here:
How many years’ experience you need depends on a number of things, like your ability and your confidence in your ability in the area in which you want to consult.
If you don’t have a wide variety of experience but what you do know is valuable to potential clients in your area, then that would be enough.
I’m keen to answer this question it but I note in advance that I make no promises because I have seen people who have a surprising depth of knowledge at quite a young age, and they just make you wonder how they have achieved so much at such a relatively young age.
Often it is by doing a lot of work, as Arnold Schwarzenegger might say in regard to this approach: it’s "Reps, Reps, Reps".
I have also seen older people who have a little more work to do yet, before they should branch out on their own.
To give you a figure, I’d say at least 8 years will give you a good enough foundation.
I don’t want you to focus on the literal number of years. It really depends...
Rest assured there are shortcuts and there could be a lot of reasons why you might be capable to start your own business with less experience than that. It also depends on what you count in your experience.
There are teenagers coming out of school who have been helping fix family and friends’ computers almost all their lives. If this is you then you should know you already have a big head start. You should give yourself credit for this experience.
A love of and practice of problem solving will also stand you in good stead.
The number of years guide is around indicating a breadth of knowledge.
What really matters is how well your skills meet your client’s need. It doesn’t matter how many years’ experience you have if you can just do what they need in a time they expect for a price that is acceptable to them.
Naturally if you are going to target business clients needing help with complex networking issues, for example, then you will need some experience and know-how in that field.
Now that I have used that term, I have a point to make on ‘know how’.
I like to reference a term the French use and contrast it with what we use in English.
We in English use ‘know how’ and it is rightly prized in our culture.
The French have a term ‘Savoir Faire’ which people often translate as know-how, but the words if translated directly are ‘to know to do’. The key I love is the emphasis on doing.
Please don’t just think you know it all and blindly make the leap. Be sure to have some hands-on experience actually doing what service you propose to provide.
At the end of the day, you need to be able to provide a service that people are willing to pay for. You may find that what you know has developed along the lines of what people need. If so, then great!
Final words on experience:
A good IT consultant doesn’t necessarily know the answer to every problem but rather knows how to find the answer.
Success Lever 3: Develop your IT Services Offer to Bring in the Cash!
Some options to consider are:
- Computer repair and support
- Managed services plans – This can be a great foundation and life-blood for your business
- Cloud Solutions
- Other services*
*Other services such as Mac-specific support, mobile device support, point of sale solutions (I love this one, again because it comes with a good type of client with ongoing opportunities), but the options are as varied as your potential clients’ businesses.
You can frame your own services (and products) based on your business vision and skill-sets at the outset. It might not need to be set in concrete at this stage, so don’t worry.
You will see further below a trick that can give you massive competitive advantage, and give you better than average chances for ongoing repeat business.
Answered: How will you get income?
It’s a very important question and it’s a leading question. It leads to a more fundamental question: How will you get clients? It is fundamental you get clients because they are who will give you the income.
Bonus! How to get paying clients
A services business of any kind without clients is not going to be a viable business for long. It can be time consuming and I’ve seen it resolved in a number of ways. Networking in your local area will be important, if not essential. But it will be important that you do that efficiently. It is one of the key activities, certainly early on.
You probably will spend more time on getting clients than working on revenue producing activities at first. It comes first before the income and therefore is an essential activity. You want to approach it that way; assign it the proportionate amount of time (which is assisted by making sure you don’t waste time doing low return activities), give it the attention and effort it deserves.
Depending on previous job roles you probably haven’t done much networking in the past. Like any skill you shouldn’t expect to master it at first, and that it will take some practice. It will pay off when you have helped potential clients understand how you will help them meet their needs.
Success Lever 4: Accelerate into your business
A quote I love is “bight off more than you can chew, then chew like hell!” This encapsulates what I think the approach or mindset needs to be, regardless of whether you are less experienced and less confident, or more so.
You can learn on the job to some extent, so get into it. There are a number of reasons why, including:
- making a start is so much better than 'analysis paralysis'
- "you miss 100% of the shots you don't take"
- You won't really know until you try
- Commitment to others*
*There is nothing like the pressure of commitment to a client to make you find out what you need to know and to make things happen. It's worth restating that quote:
Bight off more than you can chew, then chew like hell!
You should make sure you have prepared back up resources that you can call on to help you when you are totally stuck if this is going to be your approach. There is a resource which can help you with this, and I'll that I'll provide further below.
Success Lever 5: Focus on Value Adding Activities.
Increase your chance of success by doing the right activities – the ones that bring success!
An important point I should also make is that by getting the right help, you can focus your time on performing the value adding tasks and maximum return activities.
There can be a lot of time wasting and spinning your wheels trying to understand all the non-core activities and my advice is to be smart and get help in this regard early on. But how can you find out which activities will add the most value? Lucky for you there is a course designed to do just this. Stay tuned, it's explained further below...
Answered: How to make the leap to Independant Consultant, without losing your shirt?
You want to know how to make the leap into consulting in your own business, without falling into the metaphorical abyss.
Whether you want to start a computer consulting business full time or start building your business slowly as a side business, there is a huge amount of knowledge you need to obtain to make a start. I can set out some key items in a web page of this size, but you know there will be a lot more to know when you really start getting into the detail.
Whether you can afford to go all out and set up to run your IT constant full time or start a side business and more slowly learn your market depends on you.
The answer is as simple as it is obvious. Take a course, get a mentor, follow guidelines and whatever you do, use information provided by someone who has already paved the way. A lot more on this is to follow.
Success Lever 6: Know What to Activities to Avoid
You could probably spend the best part of a year doing the following – AVOID excessive:
- Surfing the web, including:
- Searching on and on, with Google or Bing or other search engines and
- Reading light weight articles that barely scratch the surface
- Going down rabbit holes of superfluous details link after link to see whether you need the information they provide.
- Getting distracted with funny cat videos (or whatever is your favorite distraction)
- Overloading on government or other websites which contain too much information
- A far better approach is to focus your learning into what you immediately need to know. Here’s how:
Casey and I have both contributed and updated the course over a number of years.
However it is absolutely true to say the course is what Casey wished was out there when he started his own IT consultancy. Through the years of experience he has learnt what is important to focus your time on, and how to avoid distractions. We have all that packed into the course.
Answered: How to make an immediate start?
You can start as soon as today. There is no need for financial commitment if you are not yet ready - get and use this free resource:
TheTechMentor.com offers a free guide on how to make your first $1000:
Success Lever 7: Get the Right Education to give yourself a head start!
Get a head start. To do this, make sure you seek out and take specifically useful and relevant education or ongoing training specifically relevant to starting your own IT consultancy business.
We know this will sound like a plug for ourselves, but we really believe in it. We also think it the only one of its kind out there:
TheTechMentor.com has an online training course which sets out very many of the things you’ll need to learn and do and it guides you along the way as you set up your consulting business.
While we both have contributed to it, Casey (yes the Casey who started TheTechMentor.com and started writing many of our articles more than 10 years ago) set out to write the course based on his own experience starting and many years working as an IT consultant. It truly is the resource he wished was available when he started out (many years ago).
This course has been run for several years and we've improved and updated it along the way, so you can start your IT Consultancy from the ground up, learning the right information and doing the right steps at the right time. We've received very positive feedback from past students.
To find out more information about this course, click the button below:
Success Lever 8: Find and use a mentor:
Of course I’m going to mention having a mentor. It surely won’t surprise you that at TheTechMentor.com we highly value mentors! We have had mentors throughout our personal and professional careers and we know they really do help.
Throughout the course, thetechmentor.com acts as your online mentor, giving you as much of the information we think you are likely to need, and more (like actionable steps and the end of each lesson). It provides relevant up to date links that are immediately relevant to each topic resources as it is raised.
If you can, also find someone who has done what you want to do, make an initial contact and explain what you are looking to do. Do your research first and make sure you know how what they provide and what you would like to do differ, so that they know you will not be stepping on their toes or taking their clients.
Success Lever 9: Know and Manage Risk!
Risk management - I don’t want to scare you, but being forewarned is being forearmed.
There are financial risks, legal risks, indemnity risks, and more. You have got to be aware of the major risks and what you should do to manage them.
Being unaware of them and closing your eyes or your mind to them is like driving on a dark country road during a moonless night without your lights turned on while wearing a blind fold. It would be only a matter of time before you hit something you can’t afford to. Do not do this!
You definitely do not want to get the freedom of going out on your own, only to be dragged through the courts by an industry or government regulator, or unhappy client.
This is probably the worst way to spend your time, with huge costs and no revenue for the time you have to put in. Not to mention the stress. Even if you win such a case it is terribly costly.
This would be a positive life change ‘gone bad’.
So know your risks and address them up front before any issues have a chance to appear.
Success Lever 10: Be Prepared to ‘Pivot’ (to Where the Gold is)
To ‘Pivot’ is an important concept in all successful start-up businesses.
At TheTechMentor.com we’ve had past course students find as few as a couple of key clients whose needs have directed the focus of their own business, which was different to what they had originally started to offer.
By giving these clients what they want, they have cemented themselves as an essential part of their clients’ ongoing business success. This is the trick that can really make your business, should you be so lucky. And luck here is where you make it.
This gives you a massive competitive edge; you know what your customers want, and as you develop their business together based on their needs, you are better placed than anyone else to continue to support them. They will have confidence in you and want to keep coming back. To ensure you are a part of their business again and again.
Your Next Steps:
Take the opportunity!
There is a saying ‘luck favours the bold’ and as I grow older I believe that it is true even more strongly than ever. So put in your ground work, and then be brave and go ahead.
Invest in yourself
Invest in learning more and in your ongoing education.
Learn what you can that will shortcut your path to success.
Get some help
Being ‘bold’ alone is not as good as being wise enough to get help where you can. This can make all the difference. So in the next few days make a list of resources that you can use.
Find some professional advisors for the legal and accounting side of things.
When you think about the tens of thousands of dollars you could potentially make in your business (and the huge financial difference between a successful business and a failure) it seems to me to be a very wise investment to find the fastest path and give yourself the best chance for success!
Your planning of how you will become an IT consultant starts now, using these success levers. If you are looking forward to going out on your own, remember you don’t have to be alone.
Be wise and organize some help for yourself. Someone with experience can be a really useful mentor, and help you avoid pitfalls and tough lessons others had to learn the hard way.
There are free resources available, like the one given above, to get you started, and there is the great value course (if I do say so myself) also mentioned above which mentors you through much of the information needed and steps to take, to guide you through the minefield and helps you at each step along the way of how to start your start your IT Consultancy Business.