Is Consulting for You?

Have you considered transitioning from your current job into consulting? 

In my immediate community and nationally, experienced grant professionals seem to be in high demand. Sometimes organizations don't have the desire or resources to hire a full-time or part-time grant professional so they will contract with a consultant. Consulting is a chance to do what matters most to you and to thrive. At the same time you will help others achieve their mission and succeed. Here are 5 “big picture” questions that may help determine if consulting is right for you:

1. Do you believe in what you are doing?  If so, it won't feel like “selling”.  I recently had coffee with a friend of mine who said she could never go into consulting.  When I asked why she replied, “I don't like selling.”  Uh oh, I thought… I don't like selling either.  But it never feels like selling.  Instead, when I meet with a potential client, it's exciting to learn about their work, their mission, and their passion.  That is energizing and I realize how much we can accomplish together. And once I communicate that, it IS selling!  On the contrary, if you are in a field that does not feel right to you, then the selling WILL be a struggle, and you may find yourself feeling routinely drained rather than energized.

2. Do you see opportunity everywhere?  There is a certain sense of optimism that is necessary to enjoy the practice of consulting. Your clients may be so immersed in their daily responsibilities that they rely on you to find the opportunities for them. On your own time, do you network with various sectors, read business journals, and scan relevant news on a regular basis? Finding ways to discover opportunities for your clients to meet their needs is essential for an effective consulting practice.

3. Can you focus on your most important work and say “no” to things that could derail you?  This type of clarity and focus is not easy, and nine years into my own business, I'm still learning how to turn down projects. If you see opportunity everywhere, you may just want to DO everything too…at which point there will no longer be enough time to do it all. In my first few years of consulting, it felt like my business was running me, instead of the other way around.  That is a sure sign to slow down, re-assess your reasons for being in this business, and list your priorities.
4. What attracts you to consulting?  Is it the promise of autonomy and flexibility? Maybe it is the challenge of making it on your own? Will your lifestyle support the meager financial years and the fluctuation in income that can happen in this field?  Do you have a support system in place for those times you feel isolated? If you are honest and realistic about your expectations, and if they will help you accomplish your own life goals, then maybe consulting is right for you.

5. Are you ready to learn? There are numerous resources available for people get started in consulting. The most valuable early knowledge I gained was from an online course on starting your own grant writing consulting business, and now, being involved with the Grant Professionals Association. The best learning, however, is in networking with other consultants and hearing about their experiences.  Consider attending national conferences, training opportunities, or professional groups. A consultant must constantly train and learn to stay relevant in the field.  And that is part of the fun.

What other factors do you think should be considered regarding making the transition to consulting?

Margit Brazda Poirier, GPC, M.S. is Owner and CEO of Grants4Good LLC®, a grant development consulting company based in Rochester, New York.
©2018, Grants4Good LLC®

GPC Competencies:  
Knowledge of practices and services that raise the level of professionalism of grant developers.


By: Linda
On: 03/14/2018 09:51:48
Thank you, Margit. These are valuable things to consider - I am in the early planning stages of my own consulting business, after 20 years in nonprofit. Need all the help I can get!

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