The status of consultant is attracting more and more people looking for a new career.
Being free to choose your clients and assignments, being able to work from home or on the other side of the world, or even have the choice of working hours: it has to be said that consulting has many advantages.
A phenomenon that emerged in the early 2000s, consulting has come a long way since its inception. For a long time, consultants were people with small structures to meet companies' needs in the fields of operational efficiency, financial management, and strategic planning. Between 2000 and 2010, companies were looking to adapt to global market changes and increasing globalization. New consulting disciplines such as information technology management, digital strategy, and sustainability consulting therefore emerged.
In 2010, consultancy became a real success story, with a growing demand for consulting services in technology, digital transformation, and management. As companies sought to adapt to new economic and technological realities, consulting played a crucial role in their evolution.
It was at this point that the number of consultants began to grow steadily. Indeed, if in 2008 the number of consultants in Switzerland was 790'000, by 2019 it will have reached 900'000, according to the Swiss Federal Statistical Office (FSO).
Nevertheless, starting up as a consultant is still a daunting task, and can be frightening for many. Helvetic Payroll reveals a few tips on how to become a successful consultant.
Being a consultant is different from being a salaried employee. The real difference is the subordinate relationship. An employee is bound solely to his or her company by a contract of employment. They are subject to the obligations dictated by their company and carry out assignments for the company that hired them.
Conversely, the salaried consultant is also bound to the payrolling company by a contract of employment but may carry out assignments for one or more clients of his or her choice, and is autonomous in the management of his or her organization. This is a tripartite relationship between the payrolling company, the consultant, and the client. This relationship is governed by an employment and service contract.
Which begs the question: what are the main reasons for taking the plunge and becoming a consultant?
Helvetic Payroll reveals its advice on how to become a consultant and launch a successful business.
Work on what you want, for whom you want
The status of consultant offers many possibilities and a great deal of leeway to those who choose it. You're free to choose the assignments you want to work on, and the clients you want to work for. They can refuse an assignment if they feel it doesn't meet their criteria. Whether for ethical or financial reasons or simply because the project doesn't interest him or her. Similarly, the consultant is free to choose the companies with which he will canvass, enabling him to target the assignments that interest him most.
Lack of work routine
Working as a salaried employee in a company can have certain wearying aspects, particularly when professional activities involve tirelessly repeating the same tasks day after day. This can lead to a feeling of routine and stagnation, which can affect motivation and well-being at work.
Consulting, on the other hand, offers professionals a stimulating and rewarding alternative. One of the key advantages of consulting lies in its ability to offer a variety of assignments and projects. Consultants have the opportunity to work on a multitude of different projects, in a variety of sectors, with a variety of customers. This diversity of professional challenges keeps them constantly engaged and passionate about their work.
What's more, consulting gives professionals invaluable flexibility. Consultants can adjust their workload according to their state of physical or mental fatigue, enabling them to preserve their work-life balance. This flexibility gives them the freedom to decide when to take time off, slow down or devote themselves fully to a specific project.
Work when you want
One of the major advantages of consulting is its flexible time management. Consultants enjoy considerable freedom to organize their schedules. Of course, they have to keep to their schedules when meeting with clients or when working within a company, but they retain a great deal of leeway when it comes to distributing their workload.
For example, a consultant specializing in content writing can adapt his schedule to suit his preferences. If he's more productive in the evenings than in the mornings, he can concentrate all his work in the afternoons and evenings, without hindering his efficiency or causing problems for anyone else.
This temporal flexibility enables consultants to reconcile their professional and personal lives in the best possible way. They can choose the times when they are most productive and organize themselves accordingly. What's more, it enables them to deal more flexibly with unforeseen circumstances and emergencies, while maintaining a high level of efficiency in their work.
Freedom to choose your remuneration
Although consultant status may be perceived as precarious for some, due to the variable income involved, it also represents a far more attractive option than a permanent contract for many. Consultants have the freedom to set their daily rates at between CHF 300 and over CHF 1,000, or even more for highly qualified consultants in specific fields, giving them the opportunity to double or even triple the salary they would have earned as an employee in a traditional job.
By opting for consultant status, they can benefit from greater flexibility and autonomy in managing their income. By adjusting their rates according to their expertise, market demand, and the type of assignments they carry out, consultants can exploit their earning potential to the full.
The main disadvantage faced by consultants is the irregularity of their income. The consultant generates income by carrying out assignments for different customers. If he finds himself without an assignment for a certain period, whether due to market availability or other reasons, he will receive no income unless his status entitles him to unemployment benefits. This situation can lead to financial insecurity for the consultant.
Irregular payments too
Deferred payment, a common feature of consultancy work, can be a disadvantage. It is essential to consider this situation in order to prevent any cash flow problems. However, in the absence of these skills, it may be advisable to enlist the help of an accountant for more effective financial management.
A different social security system
Another disadvantage of working as a consultant is the lack of social security coverage. Unlike salaried employees, consultants do not enjoy the same social benefits and advantages offered by employers, such as unemployment insurance, paid leave, group health insurance, and other social protection schemes.
As consultants, they have to take care of these crucial aspects of social protection themselves, which can represent an additional financial cost. Private health insurance or individual pension plans can be expensive. What's more, the absence of paid vacations means that consultants have to make financial provisions for periods when they are not working, such as vacations or periods of illness.
Becoming a consultant doesn't necessarily mean giving up your salaried status. In fact, it's important to take into account the possibility of combining several functions. For some time now, thanks to the evolution of the job market and its standards, we have been observing more and more cases of people deciding to combine their duties as an employee with those of a consultant.
Making your service offer
For your service offer to be truly effective, it must respond to a concrete need of your potential customers. To achieve this, you need to emphasize the tangible benefits you bring to your customers. This means carefully considering the positive improvements your mission or service will generate for them or for the stakeholders involved.
The benefit you offer your customers is the real added value of your offering, and it's precisely this that will encourage future customers to choose you. So it's essential not to confuse this benefit with the methods or tools you're going to use to achieve your objectives. You must clearly emphasize the positive impact and concrete results your customers can expect from your intervention.
To do this, it's essential to present yourself as an undisputed expert in your field. Demonstrate that you have mastered the skills and knowledge required to meet your customers' specific needs. Emphasize your expertise, experience, and past successes to inspire confidence and credibility in your future customers.
A strategic approach means not trying to do everything, but focusing on the areas in which you excel. By being selective and targeting the areas in which you are truly an expert, you will be more recognized as a benchmark by your customers. This recognition will strengthen your position and encourage satisfied customers to speak positively of you, helping to increase your visibility and reputation in the marketplace.
Make sure the offer corresponds to a market
It's essential to distinguish between need and market. Although the need is often real, it doesn't necessarily guarantee that the market is also present.
That's why it's vital to carry out market research as soon as possible. Be pragmatic in your approach, and don't hesitate to put the question directly and simply to your future customers or prescribers to understand their interests and real demand. This will enable you to assess the viability of your offer and identify commercial opportunities to ensure the success of your project.
Don't hesitate to ask your potential customers about their needs. These encounters could enable you to fine-tune your offer and discover markets you hadn't thought of, but which you could respond to perfectly. This is a frequent occurrence and can open up new opportunities.
For this reason, it's best not to spend too much time drawing up a service offer. Get out into the field as quickly as possible, so that you can test it against reality and adapt it to the needs you identify.
Tip: Before you start, take the time to identify and organize in a database (such as an Excel spreadsheet or CRM) the contacts you'll be calling on for this work. Whether you already know them or not, record their details (e-mail address, telephone number, postal address) and add a column for a "summary of the interview", another for "follow-up", and finally a column for "deadline" for each contact. This will give you a clear, organized overview of your interactions with potential customers.
The database is an indispensable working tool for any consultant or sales company wishing to develop its business. The notion of target is fundamental, as it enables you to address a specific market in a relevant way.
As a consultant, we even talk about micro-targeting, because your consulting activity is often specialized, aimed at a restricted audience. It's therefore essential to refine your database over time to optimize your follow-ups and communications.
The accuracy of this database is crucial. You need to define exhaustively the type of companies that potentially need your expertise. It's also important to specify the geographical area you can cover as a consultant.
Organizing this data in your database is an important step in ensuring efficient management of your contacts and enabling you to develop your network and business opportunities.
The status of consultant is, without doubt, the professional status offering the greatest freedom in the workplace. Whether you've set up your own business or are in payrolling, consulting lets you choose your customers and the people you work with. It also allows you to organize your working days as you wish, to travel, but also to earn additional income, for example.
But be sure to ask yourself the right questions before embarking on this adventure, as there are many different types of statuses available in Switzerland today. Don't hesitate to seek free advice from experts like Helvetic Payroll to help you decide. Then you can test your project and take advantage of the freedom offered by the status of consultant.