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How to successfully become an IT Consulting?

Posted on 2011-03-08
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
Hello,

I'm interested to find out how I can successfully launch my business as an IT Consultant for small to medium size businesses. I'm certified in Security+, Network+ and MCITP. I've been doing IT for over ten years. I've worked on many projects like Exchange, Citrix, VMWare, Backup, Security and Virus/PC Repair. I get alot of business with PC Repair, however I'm looking to do a little bigger jobs for new or existing businesses. I just need some advice on how to get started, what tools I'll need, what forms and how to network with businesses in my area. How do I get my info out? What is it I need to beware? There is so many talented IT Professionals on this site, I'm confident I'm exicited to hear any advice.  Any information is greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

nimdatx
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Question by:nimdatx
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by:paulsolov
paulsolov earned 100 total points
ID: 35070200
I would recommend that you work for a consulting company if you haven't been doing this type of work.  50% of the job working as a consultant is not technical but knowing how to deal with the customer aspect of the project.  You may also look at partnering up with someone since you cannot be in more than one place at the same time and customers will jump ship if you are not prompt in handling issues.

My $.02

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by:
Carl Webster earned 400 total points
ID: 35070230
Are you planning on being a specialist or a generalist?

Read books.

Get on various mailing lists for your interests.

Desktops or servers?

Read books.

Find a business group in your area to network with.

Join LinkedIn.

Start reading blogs and articles for the area(s) you intend to work in.

Read books.

Don't be afraid of making offline contact with people you see are the go-getters on the mailing lists, forums, blogs and articles you read.  They can turn into long-term friendships.

Make sure you search for answers before posting questions

Build a lab if you don't already have one.

Start small and grow slow.

Make sure you find a good CPA/Accountant/Bookeeper if you don't really know accounting and tax record keeping.

You are in the Central time zone so I am assuming you are in the U.S.  You will need to read:

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p463.pdf
http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1542.pdf
http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p535.pdf

Keep really good and detailed records.

Stay in constant communication with your customers.
Give really good and detailed status reports on your work.

Have I mentioned you need to be reading book? :)  Not just technical books but business books, finance/economic books, history books, biographies, self-improvement books.  I spend a lot of time on the road so I subscribe to audible so I listen to books also.  I do physical books, eBooks (Kindle books are my fave cuz they roam from device to device and save my place) and audio books.

Learn to write articles and start a blog.  Writing is what greatly expanded my world of opportunities.

As far as forms, there are a lot of sites where you can get the necessary state specific contracts and stuff you will need.  You will also need proposals, statements of work, bids, quotes, estimates, status reports, invoices, etc.

BUT - KEEP IT SIMPLE and GO SLOW.

Did I happen to mention you should be reading? :)
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Expert Comment

by:Snibborg
ID: 35070267
I would suggest that you look at LinkedIn.  This is a great resource for locating new business opportunities.  Remember though, that your CV is your advert in this world so make sure that yours is pin-sharp.

Also, in the UK I utilise the local Chamber of Commerce, Business Link and Federation of Small Businesses.  Perhaps some of my US colleagues could suggest similar organisations there.

Get your web site up to date so that you can refer people to it at every opportunity (don't look at mine please, except perhaps as a warning).

Snibborg
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Best Practices: Disaster Recovery Testing

Besides backup, any IT division should have a disaster recovery plan. You will find a few tips below relating to the development of such a plan and to what issues one should pay special attention in the course of backup planning.

 
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by:nimdatx
ID: 35070641
CarlWebster that was a great comment and I appreciate everyones help. Everyones advice was very helpful and I'll be sure to read books. :-)

Thanks,

nimdatx
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Expert Comment

by:Carl Webster
ID: 35070722
I completely forgot the best book there is about IT consulting:

http://www.amazon.com/Nomadic-Developer-Surviving-Technology-Consulting/dp/0321606396/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1299600823&sr=1-1

The title may be The Nomadic Developer but replace "developer" with technician, engineer, architect, consultant, etc and it still works.  This is an EXCELLENT book and worth reading BEFORE you get started on your journey.
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by:nimdatx
ID: 35070945
CarlWebster, I looked at your profile and I must say I'm very impress with your accomplishments. It motivates me to push myself further towards my dreams and fantasies. I realize I need a goal and alot of dedication to get to the level where I can really help others with their IT needs, wants and desires. It's rare to find someone as successful as you and willing to share ideas to make someone else a great IT Professional.  

Thanks so much and I'll see you online.

nimdatx
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Expert Comment

by:Carl Webster
ID: 35071028
If you ever go to Synergy and or Summit and or BriForum, make sure you look me up.  My e-mail address is in my profile.

I am nothing to be impressed about.  Just worked my butt off for 33 years in IT.

I would seriously recommend you look at writing.  Writing has paid off handsomely for me.  You will not make any money from writing but the side effects of writing are profitable.  When I am at a potential customer's site and they want to know how much I know about Citrix, I just point them to http://dabcc.com/Webster and seal the deal.

Read, write and pay your quarterly tax estimates! :)
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