The following consultant's manual is a one-stop place to come for vital information related to the process of becoming and succeeding as an independent consultant. The primary focus of the manual will be toward consultants living and working in the United States, or doing business with the United States. As the content grows and there is interest from consultants in other countries, those individuals can add that content to this manual. This manual is geared toward small, one- or two-person firms, rather than to larger consultant-type companies. It covers a wide range of topics, including home offices and tax-related issues.
The road to becoming a consultant takes many twists and turns. Some individuals have never had a formal education or background. Others have had many years of experience in a related position, possibly as part of a larger consulting firm; some even have received advanced degrees, such as the MBA, or Master’s of Business Administration. There is no one path which will guarantee success, nor is there clear guidelines for when and how to start an independent consultancy.
Here are a few of the many topics that will be covered:
- Making the decision to be an independent consultant
- Arranging your finances
- Determining your speciality
- Creating an identity
- Business structure
- Setting up a home office
- Delivering your services
- Record keeping
- Tax consequences
- Strategic planning
- Reference materials and other resources
Many other topics will be added as needed. First and foremost, this is a business and should be treated as such. Unless you are independently wealthy and doing consulting as a service to the community, one of your primary goals will be generating a profit. Profit is not just the money received from your clients, it is the money which remains after expenses are paid.