How to become a consultant?

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Mike OTDP
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How to become a consultant?

Post by Mike OTDP » Mon Oct 23, 2017 12:49 am

I've got a question that I'd like to ask...how do I become a consultant?

Here's the situation. I can retire next June on about 70% pay. The "sweet spot" is actually a few months later, due to planned leave (3 weeks, 12 days of it in Austria).

I've got the potential for staying with the Federal Government, but it's financially unattractive. If they don't make me an offer of interesting work, I expect to pull the plug by the end of 2018. There are some potential options. Not the most profitable course of action, but job satisfaction comes high on my priority list.

The second option would be to turn my coat and go to work for a contractor full time. I expect this would pay me at least my current salary...and possibly significantly more. Plus retirement pension. Tempting.

But there's a third option...be a part-time consultant within my field of expertise. (And with all due humility, that expertise is considerable.) Nominally self-employed. Meaning I can pick my own hours. Also tempting.

How do I go about this? Should I incorporate? What tax issues? Thanks.

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Weetabix
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Re: How to become a consultant?

Post by Weetabix » Mon Oct 23, 2017 1:09 pm

Can you give us a hint as to your general area of expertise? If it's close, I may know a guy who could advise.
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MarkD
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Re: How to become a consultant?

Post by MarkD » Mon Oct 23, 2017 3:45 pm

Note: I've been a consultant for over 25 of my 32 working years, but always for consulting companies, never independent.

Tax implications: Not only are you responsible for your own portion of the Social Security tax, you're responsible for the employer's portion too.

Be sure you understand the role of a consultant, you're there to CONSULT (duh). You use your experience, and your understanding of the client's business needs, to advise the client on a course of action and assist in implementing it. You could (and probably should) provide a variety of solutions, with pros-and-cons of each including cost analysis. Make sure the client understands the ramifications of each possible solution especially the chosen solution.

This is a pet peeve of mine. I see people becoming consultants right out of college, who lack the experience to actually consult. I see consultants blame the client for "not making up his mind", well unless you can honestly say you provided a solution and the client sat on his hands (it happens, but IMHO not that often) that lands in YOUR lap.

OK, rant off.

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Weetabix
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Re: How to become a consultant?

Post by Weetabix » Mon Oct 23, 2017 5:23 pm

I've been a consulting civil engineer for my entire career, like MarkD, most of it working for consulting engineering companies. I'd guess that's what Mike is talking about as working for a contractor. I had my own company for about 6 years doing the same thing as the companies I worked for before and after, just on my own.

My BIL was in the Navy, and now still works for .gov, but hires contractors and consultants. He's who I'd ask if the fields are remotely similar. I know he works with some classified stuff, but can tell us some. I'm not sure whether it would be good etiquette to say exactly what he does, so I won't. But all that said, he might have some ideas on how to consult.

What, generally, do "consultants" you're referring to do, Mike? "Consultant" can cover a vast area.
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Vonz90
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Re: How to become a consultant?

Post by Vonz90 » Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:34 pm

Need some clarification. Consultant can mean a bunch of things ranging from glorified contract engineer of various stripes to system experts who come in and fix things and a bunch of other things.

The questions are: Do you like to con people? Do you like to insult people? If so, then you should put those two together and be a consultant.

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MiddleAgedKen
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Re: How to become a consultant?

Post by MiddleAgedKen » Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:52 pm

Repeat after me: What exactly is it you would say you do around here?
Watergate didn't have a body count.

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Mike OTDP
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Re: How to become a consultant?

Post by Mike OTDP » Wed Oct 25, 2017 1:51 am

Weetabix wrote:Can you give us a hint as to your general area of expertise? If it's close, I may know a guy who could advise.
Flight test planning and execution. 37 years experience in the field, the last 22 of which involving large UAVs. I won't specify which ones...because doing so would identify me. Google my IRL name and "UAV" and six or seven of the top 10 hits are references to papers I've written.

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