What Is Consulting?
When people hear the word “consulting,” they often think of Harvard MBAs advising enterprise businesses on corporate strategy.
They think that being a consultant means obtaining difficult degrees and certifications from prestigious universities in order to land a competitive job at a top consulting firm.
They envision a fancy office with thousands of impeccably dressed staff members, each with a packed suitcase ready for yet another international flight.
But in reality, this isn’t an accurate picture of consulting.
Not even close.
The true picture of modern consulting is a lot closer to home, and you probably know someone right now making great money as a consultant. 36% of the US workforce is currently engaged in some form of independent consulting and contract work, and out of this group, nearly 20% of those working full-time are earning north of six figures.
In this guide, we’ll discuss the definition of consulting, explore its true meaning, evaluate why people hire consultants, and show you how to get into the field of consulting.
What Is Consulting? The Official Consulting Definition
Let’s define consulting. We’ll start with consulting’s definition according to the Oxford Dictionary.
Consulting means “engaged in the business of giving expert advice to people working in a specific field.” In other words, a consultant is somebody who gives advice to a specific group of people.
So what is consulting?
Consulting is the business of providing expert advice to a specific group of people.
The definition is that simple.
So what is a consultant? A consultant is someone who has some level of expertise that a particular group of people find valuable, and people within that group are willing to pay the consultant to access their expertise.
Notice there is nothing mentioned about big firms, degrees, or certifications. If you can provide expert advice to a specific group of people, you can be a consultant.
And there is a lot of money in consulting...
… a LOT of money….
PricewaterhouseCoopers’ consulting division brought in $15.9 Billion in 2016, making them the largest player in a $148 Billion consulting market.
And as we mentioned earlier, nearly 20% of full-time independent consultants and contractors earn six figures and above, an unparalleled statistic even by today’s gig economy standards.
All this begs the question, why is consulting so valuable?
The answer to that question lies in the core meaning of consulting.
The True Meaning Of Consulting
A consultant is somebody who gives advice. So the question we have to ask is “why do people buy advice?”
Well, why do people ask for advice?
They want to change something, achieve something, attain something, or become something, and they need help.
The current state of things isn’t how they want it to be. They know what their desired state is, but they need your advice to get there.
That’s why people want advice. They want to get from point #A to point #B, but they don’t know how to get there. They are either lost or facing obstacles they don’t know how to surmount.
And that’s what consulting is.
The true meaning of consulting is helping people solve problems and move from their current state to their desired state.
And the more valuable that desired state is to someone, the more they are willing to pay for help getting there.
For example, if a small business owner is making $60k per year and their goal is to make $120k per year, achieving their goal holds a value of $60k for them and they are likely willing to pay $5k, $10k, $20k, perhaps even up to $60k to arrive there.
But money isn’t the only goal people have. The desired state might be six-pack abs. How much is that worth to someone? When we talk about more subjectively measured goals, the value will vary from person to person, but how much people are willing to pay might surprise you. There are normal, middle-class people out there paying $1,000 per month for personal training because getting the body they want is THAT valuable to them.
That’s consulting in a nutshell: helping people solve problems and achieve results.
So if reaching that desired state is so valuable to people, why don’t they just figure it out by themselves?