The life of a consultant is often misunderstood. They are often perceived as traveling around to big cities, rubbing shoulders with top-level executives, and constantly working. While these things may be true for some consultants at some point in their careers, they are general misconceptions that lead to pervasive myths about consulting as a profession. Let’s look at some of the top myths about consulting and what is actually true.
1. You Always Work With Top Executives
People often assume that consultants are constantly working closely with the CEO of businesses they work for. While that may be true for some consultants or particular projects, more often, consultants will primarily partner with lower-level managers. Nevertheless, any partnership is an opportunity to expand your professional network, so even if you don’t find yourself sharing lunch with the CEO, make sure you take full advantage of the connections you do have the opportunity to make.
2. Anyone Can Do It
There is often an attitude towards consulting that suggests it is a profession anyone could do if they wanted to. Anyone can indeed decide to become a consultant; however, not everyone has the personality and work ethic to make a successful consultant. If you aren’t able to land clients and drive results, then your consulting career will flop. If you’re interested in becoming a consultant, hone your skills and develop a niche that you are passionate and knowledgeable about.
3. Traveler Lifestyle
Another myth is that consultants live an exciting, travel-oriented lifestyle. People picture consultants traveling to big cities, eating in fancy restaurants with influential executives and staying in luxurious hotels, all funded by their firm. While consultants do travel a lot, the reality is much less glamorous. Many projects are based in small towns with no fancy restaurants for miles. Occasionally, there may be some cushier business trips, but don’t become a consultant solely for those benefits. You’ll likely be disappointed.
4. Kiss Free-Time Goodbye
Similar to the misconceptions about traveling, it is often assumed that consultants are never home and have next to no free time. Consultants have busy seasons, and in the middle of particularly large projects, it may feel like the work is never done, and there’s no time for a good night’s sleep. However, this is not true all of the time. As a consultant, you get to decide how to spend your time. Maybe by sacrificing all of your free time, you can make a little more money, but in the long run, you get to control your schedule and decide how much free time you want to enjoy.
5. Strictly Professional
Finally, people often assume that being a consultant requires strict professionalism. Being professional in your work relationships is important, but at the same time, consulting is all about relationships. Making personal connections with your clients can help you build rapport and build stronger relationships that may lead to more projects. Keep professionalism in mind, but don’t be afraid to show your personality as well.