Setting Up Your Consulting Practice

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Topic: Develop Skills

Think about the skills you’ll need as an independent consultant — analytics, presentations, or how to use new software. Build or hone those skills now, while you’re still working.

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Useful links

  • Unleashed Episode 246: Investing in Your Skills When You Have Time Between Projects
  • LinkedIn Learning offers thousands of courses free for LinkedIn Premium members
  • Udemy offers affordable skills training with thousands of online courses
  • Checklist of Suggested Skills for Independent Consultants (Coming soon)


If you’re currently employed and you have one or two years before you actually want to make the leap and become an independent professional, now is a great time to either develop new skills or to hone some skills that may have become rusty.

So, if your Excel is rusty, improve your Excel skills. If your PowerPoint skills are rusty, get solid on PowerPoint. Also, look at the new kinds of tools that are coming out and figure out what tools you think you’ll need as an independent professional.

For example, if you’ve kind of moved up the corporate ladder and you’re at, let’s say, the partner level at a consulting firm, or you’re head of strategy at a company, you may not be doing the Excel sheets yourself very often anymore.

But guess what? In the independent consulting world, often you’re going to be playing every role — from general bottle washer to partner. So you may be out there doing Excel, doing PowerPoint in addition to selling the projects.

Maybe that’s Tableau if you expect to be doing any kind of data visualization. Perhaps it’s honing your ability to speak in front of large audiences if you plan to be doing that.

If you’re planning to become an independent professional in a year or two and you’re currently in a corporate role, congratulations. It’s a fantastic time to develop new skills or renew and hone skills that you have perhaps allowed to get a little rusty.

An example is Excel. If you’ve kind of moved up the corporate ladder you may not be building the model yourself anymore but as an independent professional, chances are you’ll be expected to roll up your sleeves and do some Excel yourself.

Same thing with PowerPoint. You may not be doing the PowerPoint presentations yourself anymore but as an independent consultant, you’ll be expected to do that. Now you can always outsource parts of that to some third party to your graphics person, but still, you’ll most likely be doing a little bit more PowerPoint than you are as a senior executive.

Similar, with new kinds of data science tools, if you think that you may be doing some kind of data analytics now is a great time to invest in that. Learn Tableau, learn data visualization. 

The great news is you may even be able to use corporate resources to pay for some courses that you want to take or at least reimburse you partially for those courses.

So take advantage of that now. Do an inventory of the skills that you think that you’ll need one or two years from now when you set out on your own as an independent. And, do an honest assessment of where you’re at today with those skills and then brush up those skills or learn new skills over the next one or two years.