​The 5 Paths for Independent Consulting Careers

The 5 Paths for Independent Consulting Careers

If and when someone has collected the necessary knowledge and experience to become a subject matter expert, they have to option to use their expertise to run and build their own business instead of working for someone else.

The newly rising gig economy makes for a profitable market for any type of independent consultant to sell their expertise.

Most independent consultants generate leads by using online platforms to to find and land clients. At Benchsme.com we do the leg work for you and match you with clients and projects that need your specific expertise.

The following five fields are especially popular among solo consultants.

1. Marketing Consulting Careers

There are complex marketing channels that need to be implemented for any business to attract and keep new clients. Some channels experts use are:

  • Pay-per-click advertising
  • Content marketing
  • Search engine optimization
  • Direct response marketing
  • Print, TV, and radio advertising

Figuring out with path is most efficient for their marketing mix is a struggle for plenty of business owners. The marketing industry is always in flux and technology evolves faster than we can often keep up with. The relevance of certain channels varies frequently due to new developments and fluctuation in the industry.

This is why many businesses will hire marketing consultants to help them plan, improve, evolve, or even run their marketing campaigns.

Independent marketing consultants ask questions like:

  • What marketing channels should this business pursue?
  • How can we improve conversions to reduce our customer acquisition cost?
  • How can we use upsells and cross-sells to increase our average order value?
  • How can we create brand loyalty to increase our lifetime customer value?

Many independent marketing consultants specialize in one or two digital marketing channels, which they will often offer as a turnkey service to consulting clients who are a good fit for those channels.

Online marketing is one of the few fields where degrees and certifications mean literally nothing, and everything revolves around results, making it a common business pursuit for people of all ages and backgrounds seeking a new career and a new path to entrepreneurship.

2. Financial Consulting Careers

Finance is tricky, and everyone has to deal with it whether its business or personal, we all have expenses and taxes and we all want to make sure we’re getting the most out of our money.

When life changes, you start a new job or have a new baby, new financial challenge tend to rise for individuals. For businesses, managing finances for things like product development, hiring new employees, and benefit programs can be demanding. So, many people hire Financial consultants, also referred to as financial advisors, for help.

Independent financial consultants ask questions like:

  • How can this individual use 401Ks, IRAs, etc, to achieve financial independence at retirement?
  • How can we improve the cash-flow of this business to better enable growth?
  • Which investment opportunities best suit this individual's current situation — stocks, bonds, real estate, etc?

Financial consultants will often work closely with other professional advisors, such as accountants, insurance brokers, and attorneys. For this reason, financial consultants must be organized, networked, and have good communication skills.

In the U.S., independent financial consultants must pass an exam administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, to gain a Series 65 or 66 license.

3. Image Consulting Careers

Research shows that a person's appearance strongly influences other people's perception of them. While we know an individual’s intelligence, financial success, trustworthiness, and authority is not defined by their clothes, it’s at the very least the first impression. These perceptions can heavily affect the chances of landing a date, client, job, or promotion.

So, it's no surprise that many people hire image consultants to improve the way others perceive them.

Image consultants ask questions like:

  • What style of clothing best represents the way this individual wishes to be perceived?
  • How can I help this individual improve their communication skills?
  • Which behavioral changes and body language techniques can this individual employ to project the image they desire?
  • How can this individual improve their business etiquette to appear more confident and trustworthy?

Some image consultants specialize in a specific area, such as etiquette, communication, or clothing, while others offer a more well-rounded experience. At the lower end of the price spectrum, image consultants typically offer their services remotely, but for clients who have the money to spend, they may travel to the client's location to work with them in person.

Similar to marketing consulting, formal training has no influence on someone's ability to succeed as an image consultant. Clients will typically be attracted to the online image presented by the consultant and want to emulate them in some way.

4. Social Media Consulting Careers

Most businesses use social media, and when used correctly, it can be an incredibly powerful tool.

Unfortunately, a large number of businesses don't use social media effectively, or even understand why consumers interact with brands on social media. When faced with minimal results, these business will often (hopefully) turn to an experienced social media consultant.

Social media consultants ask questions like:

  • Which social media channels will provide the highest ROI for this brand?
  • What type of content does this business need to post regularly on social media to increase engagement?
  • How can we create an effective social media campaign to market this new line of products?

Social media consultants target social audiences and use specific strategies to engage them. If the client’s business is small, the consultant might implement these strategies and run campaigns directly. While there are no necessary qualifications, some schools are beginning to offer majors in social media practices. An overall and relevant understand of industry trends, tools and best practices for marketing is key to staying expert.

5. Career Coaching & Consulting

Choosing a career path can be daunting if you’re unsure of what you want. Some people know exactly what they want, but no idea how to get there. Some people feel stagnant in their career and are trying to work past an obstacle. Career consultants and coaches help by asking questions like:

  • Which career path would best suit this individual's personality, preferences, and talents?
  • How can we best position this individual to increase her chances of promotion?
  • What skills does this individual need to develop in order to achieve their career goals?

In the beginning stages of one’s career, they might hire a career coach to help get them get started. Career Coaches learn extensively about their client and then help them find the career that works for them.

Sometimes people are mid-career and are trying to overcome a specific obstacle and they may hire a career consultant to understand what the best way to push forward would be.

Career coaches and consultants don't need any specific certifications, but they do need to have a comprehensive understanding of the landscape of careers and different industries. They may have human resource or recruiting experience.

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