Project management is one of the areas I love to deal with. I actually did Project Monitoring and Evaluation and the skills it equipped me with are priceless. I am also big on the ever-growing importance of consultancy services in this day and age. No wonder I am also into business consultancy, amongst other things. I am intimately aware of the growing demand for project management consultancy services. That is why in this article I shall be discussing how you can start a Project Management Consulting Business in Zimbabwe.
Let me start by defining some terms to set the tone. A consultant is simply defined as someone who is an expert and gives advice. A consultant can in essence be an individual professional or it can be a collective business entity. Thus a project management consultant provides expert advice on project management to individuals or other entities. I will not get into the finer details of project management because it is an extremely broad field. I comprehensively did Project Monitoring and Evaluation which is a subset of Project Management but it is so vast.
Project management is the discipline of initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria.
The approach you will adopt is best informed by having an understanding of what a project management consultant does. A project management consultant performs tasks such as evaluating an ongoing project or projects, providing insightful guidance, and making recommendations where necessary.
Broadly you can settle for either of two options namely, operating solo or putting together a project management consultancy firm. Ideally, I would recommend that you start solo and gradually transition into a firm. As you are riding solo you will be building your reputation and credibility which are central to success in this type of business.
First and foremost you must be adept at Project Management; you must be well-versed in this field. You must be able to put to practice project management approaches to real-life situations. Experience matters and that is why even starting with pro bono work can be good in building reviews. Then you must of course have the basics namely, online presence. Online presence entails that you must be on social media, have a website, and have reliable access to the internet. You will also need to invest in registering your business, having a professional profile, business cards, and the like. Start solo and gradually transition into a firm; I am reiterating this once more!
Not much needed when starting of course. Based on my recommendation, start solo and gradually transition. You can outsource wherever possible; this eliminates the need to hire more people.
This is a very low capital business idea to start. You will just need money to build your brand in the form of setting a website, paid ads online, and other logistical issues tied to operations. There are numerous ways to keep initial costs at bay so you can start with very little capital.
The market is vast and the key is strategically niching. You will have to do your homework and see how best to target. For most, targeting and niching might be easy because you already have an associated network of potential clients. Networking is extremely important in this line of business. If you do it well you will always be juggling several clients at any given time.
You must be sure you are an expert in this area; do not take chances. The underlying core attribute of any consultant is being an expert. So be undoubtedly sure about your expertise.
In this business, you will inevitably work with lots of digital tools. Thus you must take it upon yourself to learn the main digital tools people usually use. Be familiar with using audio-visual conferencing tools such as Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, and so on. Also be familiar with using clerical digital tools such as Microsoft Teams, Google Docs, and so on. In fact, there are numerous project management software platforms out there that you can use to optimize your work.
Build networks and always build brand awareness so that potential clients know about you. Pay attention to your pricing structure so that you strike a win-win equilibrium for you and your clients.
This is a great business to start with tremendous prospects but you must be patient. It generally takes time to build a reputation so do not expect an overnight success story. You will usually have to start off offering free services then gradually transition into paid work. Managing client relationships in project management consultancy (any consultancy work really) is the secret. However, you get to enjoy the freedom of working according to your own terms for the most part. Plus you usually do not get to do the donkey work so it is a fairly enjoyable business experience.