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Australia's independent workforce is booming. It is estimated that the sharing economy is worth over $500m to NSW alone, according to a study released on Wednesday. Over 4.1 million Australians have benefited by working independently in the past year, as more people look to start taking advantage of online 'worktech' platforms such as Expert360. While launching your own consultancy can be one of the most rewarding professional experiences of your career, aspiring consultants need to do their due diligence before jumping in the deep end. Expert360 consultant Ashley Playsted gives his analysis of what you need to consider before launching your own consultancy service.  

Assess The Necessity Of Your Service

If your marketplace is crowded you will need to offer your customers something different in order to be successful. Before diving into launching your own consultancy, conduct market research to outline where a gap in the market may exist. Question whether or not you are able to offer something unique. You may discover you’ll have to tweak your message and offering to fill a gap and get noticed. Focus on what you don’t want to do, just as much as what you do want to. This will give you parameters to work around.

Passion Doesn’t Pay The Bills

Being passionate about a topic is one thing. But will you be passionate about your chosen topic 12, 24 months from now? Before taking any steps towards launching your own consultancy firm, it’s imperative to be sure that you’re passionate about your subject beyond the initial excitement phase. I call this the ‘excitement test’. Do you wake up ready to run to work to get cracking? The passion for your chosen offering needs to extend to a chosen topic or theme. For example, Wealthie offers a mortgage brokering service yet my passion is helping people take control of their finances. Therefore we also offers a range of financial support and services around this topic. Look at your past. Have you jumped onto a new idea, only to abandon it when you tire of it? If this is the case, consider widening your scope of services.  

Your Service Is Your Brand

The success of your consultancy depends on your ability to help others. Therefore, your customers need to feel as though they can trust you and feel comfortable receiving your advice and recommendations. If you’re selling a service, people are buying you. That comprises your public persona, your experience, and your personality: the whole package. Your experience, skill set and online image must stand up to scrutiny and present you in a positive, professional manner. For example, if you wish to consult on weight loss and fitness, not only will you need to be a fit and healthy person yourself, but your online presence and previous experience should also present you in this light. As a mortgage broker, I often share my own challenges and successes buying property to provide an insight into my own experiences. My customers value my transparency and I would only hope for the same upon engaging a consultant in an area I am not experienced in.

Investing In Thinking

Did you know 20% of your time should be spent thinking? That’s a secret one of my mentors shared with me early on. It shocked me – until I tried it. It completely revolutionised my business as I was able to step back, consistently and identify ways to improve my business. A significant amount of any entrepreneur's life is focused around self-reflection. This is because, as an entrepreneur, you are managing everything from marketing, cash flow, staff, and future plans. If you don’t step back to reflect, you won't grow. A significant part of your week should be focused on thinking of stepping back from the day-to-day business to reflect on next steps. This includes thinking about various improvements you can make, contingency procedures, future services, reflection and a long-term strategy for where you want to take the business. These reflections are designed to help create accountability and get you into the practice of making good decisions.  

Creating Structure When There Is None

Part of the attraction of beginning your own venture is the lure of getting out of the 9 to 5 ‘rat race’. However, the freedom that comes with leaving a corporate environment is something many people struggle with. Often people struggle to find direction and discipline without someone telling them what to do. To avoid any such occurrences with your own business, it’s critical to have an early progress plan in place to ensure you’re continually meeting key performance indicators. 

Accept You Will Fail

Finally, don’t be daunted by the prospect of failure. Not every decision you’re going to make will be the right one and all successful leaders have failed in one way or another in their career journey. With this in mind, don’t let fear affect your decision making; have the confidence to trust that you’re making the right decision and on the occasion that you don’t, make sure you use it as an opportunity to learn so you don’t make the same mistakes again.  

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