What about entrepreneurs? A question from the Ottawa IEEE Consultants Network webinar
One of the most common questions from last night's webinar with the Ottawa Alliance of IEEE Consultants Network was if my webinar series and the course on the fundamentals of professional services management was applicable for people who want to start an independent consulting firm. This question has also come up at the Vancouver IEEE Consultant's Network, and also on my public monthly webinars on the topic.
If you want to open a new professional services business, you'll need to know about the quote to cash process, scheduling an engagement, creating and negotiating a Statement of Work, creating reliable estimates, strategic portfolio management, how to manage and motivate consultants, and how to report and influence Key Performance Indicators for the health of your business. You will also need templates to get started, like a simple accounting system for bookings, billings, and backlog, a resource skill matrix and availability planner, a Statement of Work template, a Monte Carlo estimation tool for fixed-price engagements, and a work history form for interviewing prospective staff. All of those are lessons and resources are included in the full course and will be discussed during my monthly webinar series this year. If you do not have time for the free webinar series, consider taking a trial of the first module from the full course.
Although the course covers nearly everything that you'll need to know to run a consulting business, that is not a comprehensive list of what you will need to start a business. At a minimum, I would recommend a course in entrepreneurship. You will need to decide which other business functions you want to control directly and which you want to outsource, such as accounting and finance, HR, legal, and marketing. There's not a 'right' answer, either. For example, if you are starting a marketing firm, you probably would not want to outsource the marketing function, but you might hire an external CPA to handle the accounting.
Finally, you will need to have considerable experience in your chosen field. Your clients and also your staff will assume that you are the trusted advisor and understand and embody the hard skills required for your type of business. This fundamental understanding will also help with marketing your new business and landing your first few contracts.