As business and technology get more and more complicated, consulting is a booming industry. It seems like every day you hear about someone who made a fortune online by consulting. But what is a consultant?

If you say you’re a doctor, a lawyer, or an accountant, people have a good idea of what you do and what you know, even if they know nothing else about you; however, “consultant” is a much more ambiguous term. Consultants could be experts in science, marketing, business, or pretty much anything. All a consultant is is someone you pay for advice. It’s hard for one person or one company to understand everything, so if they need information on a specific thing they don’t know, they hire an expert. The best part is that companies will pay for your expertise – a lot.

The advice you get paid for could be practically anything. Generally businesses are looking to solutions to their problems. It may be that they need to cut costs, or consolidate their workforce, or that they need to know how to market a product better. The possibilities are practically endless.

Not all consulting is the same. Like many other industries nowadays, consulting can be done through a firm, or on your own as an independent agent. While working for yourself gives you more freedom to take the projects you want and set your own time schedule and work environment, it also means you’ll have a less steady pay check and will have to take more responsibility in the running of the business.

Another challenge facing most people who run their own business is motivation to get work done. Without a rigid schedule and a boss checking your progress, many people find it more difficult to finish projects.

The first step in choosing an area to consult in is figuring out what you know and like. Remember, you have to be an expert. There may be a lot of money in consulting in a specific field, but if you know nothing about it and have no interest in learning, you’ll probably be a terrible consultant and make very little money. Plus, if you’re consulting in a field you like, you’ll be more motivated to get work done and have higher productivity.

While you can be a consultant in almost any area, some choices are better than others. You need to find a market you’re not only good in, but also one that has people looking for consultants. You also probably don’t want to go into a field that already has many consultants looking for work.

A good way to get started is to look at ads of people looking for consultants. You can also do more intensive research at the library to find general fields that people need consultants in. Once you find one or more areas that suit you, research them further until you find the perfect fit. Remember that many people won’t hire you unless you already have proven results, so it’s best to stick to an area you’ve already worked in.

Just remember that starting your own business, or even changing career fields, is not an easy venture. It takes a lot of time and planning. It will also probably take a while for your business to succeed, so don’t give up.

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