How to become a consultant without experience

Become a Consultant Without Experience

If you are reading this article, you probably have thought about becoming a consultant. You may have one or more reasons, all shared by a surprising number of people in a wide variety of job fields.

But not many people feel comfortable taking those first steps to pursue their dream of working for themselves and determining their own destiny by becoming a consultant. Therefore, the aim of this article is to offer a few guidelines to show you how to become a consultant without experience.

Do You Feel Stifled and Powerless?

Maybe you feel stifled in your current job. Maybe you have been hopping from company to company, looking for that elusive perfect opportunity that makes you giddy when you get up in the morning and think about the day ahead. Be honest. When last have you relished the opportunity to get out of bed for work?

Maybe you feel you have reached a ceiling. Perhaps you want to learn and experience more. Utilize your potential better. Take back the power you have once felt. Or, you simply don’t like your boss very much – it happens!

What does it take to be a good consultant?

In simple terms, a consultant is a person who gives professional advice to an organization or individuals in a business or field of expertise. To an aspiring consultant, this definition may seem a little daunting. Many people believe that they don’t have the experience to become a consultant. Hence the reference to becoming a consultant without experience in the title of this article.

However, although you may feel that you don’t have experience to get you going with confidence, I want to stress that experience comes in many forms. It goes without saying that anyone who first starts in a line of work doesn’t yet have the formal practical experience in that position. That comes with time. But what you do have in your corner is a lifetime of knowledge, skills, and observations that you can apply to guide other people. After all, this is what consulting is all about! This is fine, you may think, still, if I decide to get up tomorrow and quit my job, what do I do to become a successful consultant?

Steps to Become a Consultant

Now that you understand the theoretical context of what consultants do, here are my recommended first steps to become a consultant in less time than you think.

#1 – Identify Your Strengths & Expertise
Even if you think you have insufficient experience to take the leap into consulting, I bet that you have ample strengths and expertise to be able to guide others to success. Take a quiet time away from the hustle and bustle of your life. Turn off distractions like your mobile phone and email. Take a pen and paper or open a word editor.

Make a list of the knowledge and skills that you have acquired over the years. It may be tools that you have used like software, protocols, or methods. It could be information and knowledge that you have learned in your field, such as how to lead a team, or how to sell products effectively. It may even be inner qualities that you value and have helped you to achieve your goals. Resilience in bad times, encouraging others, or the ability to organize are all examples.

Start a second list. This time write down the fields or areas of your expertise. Some ideas are leadership of multi-disciplinary teams, sales of consumer goods, marketing of IT products, or design of systems.

By looking at both lists – they don’t have to be long and exhaustive – you should have a good idea of what, where, and to whom you can offer consultancy services.

#2 – Specify Your Niche
Together with your passion and interests, use your lists of strengths and expertise to specify a niche on which to focus. This will form the basis of how to get into consulting with the quickest turnaround.

As the consulting world is competitive, clients expect quick and efficient service from their consultant. The best way to achieve this is to focus on a well-defined area that fits your knowledge and skills and has a high demand for good guidance.

Your niche should be specific enough to enable you to start building a network of potential client from the get-go. Consider the companies and business areas that you know, as well as your existing contacts to choose a niche. As you gain momentum, your focus can change but, for now, select a specialty area that you feel most familiar with.

#3 – Define Your Goals
Your dream has brought you to this point. Now it is time to become more precise so that you can develop an action plan and work toward milestones. Describe at least one medium and one long-term goal. A good framework is 3-12 months for the medium-term goal and 2 to 5 years for the long-term goal.

Make sure that your goals are SMART, the acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. This means your goals must be realistic. You should be able to know when you have achieved a goal or how much progress you have made at any time. And each goal should have a target date or frequency.

For instance, stating that you want to offer consulting services to make enough money is much too broad and vague. Instead, you may want to establish 5 paying clients in mid-sized clothing retail companies within 6 months.

#4 – Research Your Market
If you have chosen your niche wisely, based on the knowledge and skills that you already possess, you already have a solid base from which to research your target market. Use the internet and your existing contacts to look for ideas and opportunities. Do not hesitate to ask people for their input. “If there is one thing that someone can do to help you improve your business, what would it be?” This is a very insightful question to ask.

Divide any segments of your target market that come up. Use a diagram or chart to identify the issues or opportunities that you can help resolve in each of the areas. Keep your solutions brief but specific. Be sure to test your ideas with your contacts and keep refining according to their input.

If you follow the principles of mindful communication, you will be astonished to see how your contacts grow organically and how eager people are to answer your questions. Especially if they start to notice that you can positively influence their business.

Two Indispensable Ideas to Become a Consultant in Your Own Field

Now that we have covered the basic steps to follow when you start out on becoming a consultant, let’s talk in more practical terms about building your network and using mindful communication in the process.


#1 – Start from you existing list of contacts: You can use a simple spreadsheet or specialized CRM (customer relationship management) application to order and manage your information. Examples are, Google Contact Manager or Trello.

I use LinkedIn to build my network and transfer the information of every new, relevant contact into my contact management system. Constantly look at the associations of your existing contacts and connect with new people if they can be useful to your business offering.

#2 – Communicate sparingly but pointedly: Every communication should have a purpose that is aligned with your target market. Be specific and to the point. Make your communication worthwhile to your recipients.

#3 – Be respectful of your contacts’ preferences, needs, and workload: Needless to say, you should always respect people’s beliefs, culture, and other aspects of their identity. Keep messages friendly but professional and at the level of your recipients’ language skills.

#4 – Be careful when using mass emails: When used with care, mass emails can be extremely useful. However, it can be annoying too and easy to dismiss if it does not have a personal touch. His or her name is the most obvious but also put work location, company, field of business, whether you have or have not met them in person, and anything else of personal value into the text of your message. That way, it will come across as a genuine personal message and stand out.

Also ensure to maximize the probability of getting a response. For instance, ask an interesting question at the end that only demands a short answer but will make the recipient feel valued and important.


Simply speaking, mindful communication is when you put the recipient first, consider his or her needs, and above all, listen to what they have to say. These principles apply to in-person, voice, video, and text communications alike.

#1 – Show curiosity in the other person’s issues and desires
#2 – Consider what they have to say with thoughtfulness
#3 – Don’t make assumptions of the meaning behind their words (ask for clarity if needed)
#4 – Put yourself in their shoes and show understanding
#5 – Be sympathetic but not emotional

Practice these principles from now on and you will be surprised to notice the positive effect on the quality of your communications and the growth of your network.

Final Words

This article is not meant as an exhaustive guide to starting and setting up your online and offline workspace as a consultant. Rather, my hope is that it has provided you with enough ideas to make your dream of becoming a consultant a reality.

Structure and planning are essential. If you find the information a little overwhelming or need a nudge in the right direction, it is often a time-saver and comforting to find a seasoned professional to show you the ropes when you learn to be a consultant.