Being a consultant in the IT industry isn’t always an easy road, which can be said of any freelancer. That’s because consultants go from project to project without a regular company paycheck. But that’s also the most exciting aspect of being an IT consultant: You have freedom to set your own rules.
Nevertheless, you have to remember that you’re competing with many other IT consultants who are trying to stay competitive. You’ll have to think fast and take action to stand out from everyone else.
Stick With What You Do Best
In the IT industry, there might be a tendency to want to specialize in every possible niche as an easier method in obtaining work. It’s always wiser to hone the skills you do best for easier marketability. Customers will be more apt to seek you out when you can pare things down to being a specialist in something specific. That particular specialty should always be something that’s high in demand.
Before you even consider becoming an IT consultant, establish a list of clients you already worked for when you worked for a company. Starting out as an IT consultant without already having contacts means you may not get work right away while you set up a clientele base. An existing customer list will enable you to call them and offer your skills as a specialist as a programmer, database analyst, or whatever your niche is. In many cases, they may remember your good work from before and be apt to hire you.
Prepare to Be On Call
An IT consultant is more or less a doctor for computers in businesses and companies. In that regard, expect to be called in for major computer emergencies, perhaps in the middle of the night. IT consultant Erik Eckel wrote a piece for Tech Republic last year listing warnings for IT consultants. One of those is the problem of multitasking with various projects and companies at different hours of the day. Prepare yourself as a multitasking expert and you won’t find yourself bothered at not always getting a full night’s sleep.
Set Your Fees Fairly
The basic rule of thumb on setting your fee rates is to not overcharge just because you can. Base those fees strictly on the nature of the particular job. In each individual case, it might involve traveling or doing overtime on a project.
And always make yourself competitive with bigger consultant firms. When you go cheaper than what they charge, you’ll likely be called first since businesses always want to save money on IT services. Even at rates that are cheaper than the bigger companies, you’ll still be making good money.