March 2, 2022

How to Become a Consultant - Ep. 34

How To Become A Consultant And Have More Flexibility

Here's What You Should Do

If you value freedom and flexibility, consulting might be the right career for you. So here's an episode just for you if you want to dive into the world of consulting!

Welcome to Degree Free, where we explain what you can do instead of going to college, and how to teach yourself, get work, and make good money.

In this episode, we talk about:

  • What is consulting and what does a consultant do on a day-to-day basis
  • How to become a consultant using your current skill set and experience
  • How to acquire your first clients as a consultant

Ryan talks about the first steps on how to be a consultant when you still have no experience or skills.

Hannah also talks about how to create your own pitch deck or portfolio.

Enjoy the episode!

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Want to learn how you can earn more as a 1099 contactor instead of a W2 employee? Check out our previous episode!

Links and Notes from the Episode

Episode Transcript
Please enjoy this transcript or our episode!

Please note the transcript may have a few errors. We're human. It can be hard to catch all the errors from a full length conversation. Enjoy!

Ryan: Aloha guys, and welcome back to degree free. We are your hosts, Ryan and Hannah Maruyama. On this podcast, we share the fundamentals we've discovered and the mistakes we've made while self-educating, getting work, building businesses and making money. We'll tell you how to make it happen. No degree needed.

Hannah: Welcome back. Welcome back to the podcast. We're happy to have you here now, Ryan and I have a newsletter what's in this newsletter. Do you ask. Well, Let me tell you it's got degree free news, like companies that are changing their hiring policies for degrees different, different, interesting things and articles that we find in our weekly readings.

Also resources that we've found that really help people retool their skillsets. If they're trying to get into new jobs and just ideas for degree free jobs and careers that you can have, you do not want to not get this email. So go to and sign up for the email that you do not want to miss.

Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. And if you haven't already like, and subscribe, definitely. And let's get into today's episode.

Hannah: Let's do it.

Ryan: Today. We are going to be talking about how to become a consultant. This is actually a question that we got from a listener and, it was kind of an interesting question because,

Hannah: Well, he's, he's working on his own stuff.

This, this particular person was working on his own stuff has a pretty decent, successfully decently successful YouTube channel and was working part time and then asked me how he could become a consultant.

Ryan: Right. And it's kind of an interesting question because to, you and me, we're just like, we're all just be one,

Hannah: Yeah.

Ryan: Right? Like, well, because, and that's a kind of a jumped to the answer, because that's the answer.

Hannah: The answer for how to become a consultant is to become a contractor because a consultant is just a fancy word for contractor.

Ryan: Yeah. I mean, that's it.

Hannah: Yeah.

Ryan: Right. I mean, you are contracted to do a role in a business. And that's it.

Hannah: Yeah. And you're basically as needed. So oftentimes, oftentimes what companies use consultants for is to improve an existing process or help create a new process. So let's say a company starts and it's a small ,let's say as a small software company and they need somebody to go through and make user manuals for their software.

They might bring in a user design consultant in order to help them create these user guides. If they don't have a YouTube channel to market their service, they might need a YouTube consultant. And that would just be a person who knows how to create and run a YouTube channel. It's really simple, actually.

Deceivingly so, cause you would think a consultant would be something. Like. You know, it has that like affluent, like you think of wall street bankers, right. Is like, well, I'm a, I'm a consultant, but no, it's just people that know how to do a specific thing most of the time. And then they're brought on by a company to solve a specific problem or help create a new, a new thing that they need.

Ryan: Yeah. It's very similar to becoming a 10 99 contractor, very similar. And then a lot of companies you end up getting a 10 99. Also, depending on how their contract is set up.

Hannah: Yeah. You're just, you're just an at-will employed by them. Basically.

Ryan: I think the biggest thing now that we've talked and said, okay, well, a consultant is basically a contractor.

I think the biggest thing that we need to realize when thinking about becoming a consultant, is that what you're really asking about and what you're really wanting to start is you're wanting to start a services business.

Hannah: Based on you.

Ryan: That's what you're .

Hannah: And what you can do.

Ryan: Yeah, exactly. That's what you're asking about.

Hannah: Yeah.

Ryan: Right. And you're gonna to have to deal with all of the things that running a services business. Entails or, you know, all the troubles and all the good things. That come with being a services business.

Hannah: Yeah. You're now responsible for marketing yourself, making sales, closing sales, maintaining deals, and then getting paid for those things ,

Ryan: And then yeah. And then actually doing the thing.

Hannah: And then doing the thing.

Ryan: Right. So you have to market it. You have to, you have to go out, get it, close it, write the contracts, write, sign the contracts, and then service the deal, which when you look at it in that light, It's super simple.

Hannah: Very.

Ryan: Right? You have a skill, an area of expertise that a business, is willing to pay for, that they don't have yet, or they need improvement in a certain area.

Hannah: And you're just happened to be good at it.

Ryan: Right. And so to kind of use an example, you can, if you're good with websites, say if you know how to do WordPress or even Wix or Squarespace nowadays,

Hannah: Yeah.

Ryan: To be honest, you know, any one of those website builders and say, you're, you're good at it. You can go around and you can sell websites to people and believe it or not, that's a consultant, right. Or if you could say that you'd like to improve their website and you know, you specialize in restaurants or something like that. Right. And so

Hannah: Now you're a restaurant website consultant.

Ryan: Exactly. It's just fancy. Word salad.

Hannah: Yes.

Ryan: You know that. Okay. Your services business sounds good.

Hannah: That would be a really good name for a business Word Salad Consulting.

Ryan: Yeah.

Hannah: Well,

Ryan: Yeah,

Hannah: No, no, none of you guys take that into my now

Ryan: Fancy dressing included.

Hannah: Holy crap. I want that. I want that business.

Ryan: What do you do? And,

Hannah: Dress things up real fancy.

Ryan: Yeah. Exactly.

Hannah: By optimizing the synergy of the logistics and the synchronicity in the individuals,

Ryan: Exactly.

Hannah: across organizations.

Ryan: Optimize, cross functional,

Hannah: Cool. Well cross functional, I miss now. The whole company just explains things and as complicated, long words as possible,

Ryan: Right, exactly.

Hannah: They only hire PhDs.

Ryan: And that is basically what a consultant is.

Hannah: Yes.

Ryan: But that's, that's it. And it's not easy. It's not, it's not easy to be a consultant because now you're running a services business.

Hannah: Correct.

Ryan: Right. But, okay. Why would they hire a consultant rather than hiring an employee?

Hannah: Because they're cheaper

Ryan: Because they're cheaper.

Hannah: And you can let them go when a project is finished, because that is the expectation.

Ryan: Exactly.

Hannah: And it's easier to have a defined goal. You say I'm hiring you to, to improve this thing. And then once that thing is improved, they say, okay, bye.

Ryan: That is one of the biggest differences. I, I feel with the consultant and the employee, or even to be honest, a lot of longer-term 10 99, contractors. Consultants, generally speaking,

Hannah: Goal oriented.

Ryan: There you are going to charge a lot. I hope. For you that you charge a lot, but it's very goal oriented and it's very short or defined term duration.

Hannah: Yeah. It's not like a we're hiring you and we're going to pay you as a 10 99 worker forever for as long as we can. It's like, when did you do this thing?

Ryan: Exactly.

Hannah: Do this thing?

Ryan: So, think about more in the realm of project management type of, type of role, you know, you're what I mean by that. Or maybe not project management, but rather working on projects. And what I mean by that is like having a defined beginning and a defined end to that project. So you're going to come on as. You know, say you're going to help us with what we do here and here at degree free.

And you are a consultant and you want to help streamline the way that we edit our videos and, you know, edit our, whatever our audio, right. You'd come in. You'd charge me a lot of money. And then, you would make a system for me to figure out how to do it, and then that's pretty much it.

Hannah: And then you'd be gone

Ryan: And then you'd be gone,

Hannah: Yeah.

Ryan: You know? And every once in a while I might have questions in which maybe I'll

Hannah: You'll fill an hour or two.

Ryan: Yeah, maybe exactly. Maybe I'll call and you'll bill me a couple, couple of hours.

Hannah: Does it typically called maintenance contracts?

Ryan: Right. But that's how, but that's how simple it is to be a consultant.

Hannah: Yeah. Just say you are one.

Ryan: Right. And, but I think of the essence of the question also is like I have no, I think the connotative meeting or the connotation, like the underlying meaning was just. like, how do I gain experience in doing it as well?

Hannah: Yeah. So for this individual, the one I spoke about who has experienced creating a YouTube channel, I just said, you know showcase your YouTube channel and say, this is what I've done.

Would you like me to do this for you? Here's how much it costs that's consulting.

Ryan: Right. And so you're going to want to build a portfolio of work. You're going to want to do all of the different types of marketing tactics. You know, we've talked about before and we'll definitely talk about, again, there's a bunch of different marketing books.

We'll link a list that we did about the services business. We'll link a list of books in our show notes, things that helped us learn how to market and what marketing even is

Hannah: Yeah.

Ryan: Really , because I had no idea what marketing was. When I first started being an entrepreneur,

Hannah: Yeah, most people don't.

Ryan: Yeah. Okay. So if you don't have that skill yet, if you don't have that portfolio of work, one of the easiest ways that you can do it.

Other than getting like a job, a W2 job, you could start looking for contracts.

Hannah: Yeah. So a really simple way to do this is look for short-term contracts and then make sure you document what you've done. And I have a portfolio work. If you do that, if you get, let's say you get three, three month contracts in a year and you document what you've done, that you now have a portfolio of work.

Ryan: Yep. Absolutely. And you know, I would just make sure that in your contracts, especially if you're doing something with design or media, you're gonna want to make sure that you can display what it is that you've done and created.

Hannah: Yeah, like legally, you want to make sure you can show it.

Ryan: Right. Exactly.

Hannah: Oftentimes there's different. There's a differentiations, like if you're. If you have a portfolio of work you did for a company, but another company you're trying to show it to them to get work. As long as there's no conflict, you can usually show the portfolio because the portfolio is work. It's just proof you did work. It's not disclosing private information necessarily.

Ryan: One of the reasons why we suggest kind of looking for contracts instead of going for a W2 job. When thinking about basically starting a consultancy business, right? Cause that's when you're asking how to be a consultant, you're really asking how to start a consultancy business. The reason why, and we kind of went over and, and last week's episode of like the benefits of being a contractor, but especially if you're taking it on these shorter duration projects, you're able to kind of take on more, contracts in a more condensed amount of time. And that could help vary, especially if you're thinking about doing something, I guess, dynamic, it could, it could vary the amount of experience that you get. So what I mean by that is like, okay, we're on this example of websites. So, or even like, let's use an example of accounting, right, instead of something creative or something like that you. Instead of working for the local bank as a, an accountant or whatever, you can try to contract for that bank. And you can try to get another contract to work for a local flower shop or something. And you can get experience quickly in both types of accounting. Although generally, generally accepted accounting principles are

Hannah: Universal,

Ryan: Universal.

Hannah: But, it's a, but a company, a specific company would want to see a specific type of company on your resume often.

Ryan: Exactly.

And in this case, it's not really resume. It's going to be your portfolio of work that you show them.

Hannah: Right.

Ryan: Whatever that is.

Hannah: Look at how I created this streamlined payroll system for this florist.

Ryan: Exactly. You know, for a lot of people, that's going to be a pitch deck as if be a PowerPoint or keynote.

Hannah: Also, don't get intimidated by pitch deck or portfolio.

Like if you just put photos of work that you've done into a PowerPoint that is a portfolio. So it don't just for people who are like, oh, it has to look as some kind of way. It's gotta be printed. No, it doesn't. It needs to be a shareable on the internet. So PDF some kind, make it a PowerPoint if you can't make it prettier, but you could also use Canva templates.

A lot of them are free and just use a pitch, deck, a template, and just plop your photos in there and write a little blurb. And then.

Ryan: Yeah.

Hannah: If you want to feel better about your pitch deck portfolio, then look up some of the, like some startups first pitch decks, because you'll feel a lot better about yourself after you do.

Ryan: Yeah, definitely. I think the, this was gonna be a short episode today. I think the last thing that I did want to talk about though, is for a lot of people, this is, might sound like a lot. And then which it is, to be honest with you, you're starting a business. You might be wondering, like, how do we even get started?

Or like, how do I get my first client? Right. The truth of the matter is, is you're probably going to have to just make calls. You're going to have to sense. You're going to have to send emails.

Hannah: Yeah.

Ryan: You're going to have to get out there.

Hannah: You have to tweet at people. You have to DM people.

Ryan: Yeah. And you're going to, you're going to have to figure out.

Where it is that you fit in with their business and where the services that you offer can benefit them.

Hannah: Probably the lower tier, the lower tier people that you can get here would be smaller companies that you genuinely like. And you have an idea about something that you think they could do better. And you are able to execute that idea.

Like if you think they could be making their YouTube video format better. Just send them an example. If you think that they should be tweeting more regularly and they should be tweeting things that are more relevant to their audience, put together an example of tweets and say, here I can be your Twitter consultant.

If they do not have an account on a social media platform that you use then, and you noticed. Offer to be a consultant that will create that platform, create their presence on that platform for them. Those are really easy ways to start being a consultant.

Ryan: Yeah, definitely. And you know, we're kind of focusing a lot on like tech jobs and content creation, but that it's not exhaustive of the amount of things that you can consult on. You can consult on processes. You can con you can consult on, you know, anything, really, really anything on manufacturing, how to make something better, assuming that you have that expertise.

Hannah: As long as you know what you're talking about, and you really can help.

Ryan: Yeah. I mean, that's, right after marketing or right before marketing something, you know, some might, some might say one's more important than the other

Hannah: Yeah.

Ryan: Really, you know, ideally you'd like to be the best at what you do, you know, but maybe a second best would be, you'd like to be the best at marketing what you do.

Hannah: Yeah, no, that's definitely that one.

Ryan: Yeah. You know, I mean,

Hannah: Yeah.

Ryan: So anyway, I think that this is a short episode. That's pretty much it. We just kind of wanted to, since it was a question that we got and it was kind of like huh, it's kind of a weird one because like you and I. A consultant is just a business person.

Hannah: Right.

Ryan: This is run a services business

Hannah: Yeah.

Ryan: To you and me.

Hannah: Yeah.

Ryan: But that's how simple this is. Right. And it's definitely not easy as I say all the time, it's not easy, but it's simple. And so you're going to start it. You're going to start your own business. You're going to figure out what it is that you want to do. We did a whole episode on how to start a services business go back and listen to that.

And. Yeah. See what you can see what you can glean from it. The biggest thing after learning it and picking what it is you're going to consult on. You've got a market.

Hannah: Yeah. Cause people got to know what you do.

Ryan: Yeah. Definitely.

Hannah: If they're going to buy it from you.

Ryan: Yeah.

Hannah: Yeah. They can't buy from you if they don't know.

All right guys, I think, I think that's it for today. As I said, we do have a newsletter and I promise you that newsletter is pretty great and you're gonna want to get it. So, it's going to have all kinds of stuff, degree free news, degree free job ideas resources that we think are really valuable.

And you are going to want to sign up for the newsletter by going to and signing up.

Ryan: Yeah, definitely. And if you guys made it all the way through, which I hope you did, because it was a really short one this week.

Hannah: You can give a five star.

Ryan: Yeah,. Let us know [email protected]. Just if you want it to ask you a question or say hi, definitely a that's one of the best ways to get in touch with us.

You can follow us on social media @ryankmaruyamafor myself and @hannahmaruyama for her, and we'll throw it up on the screen and everything like that. Please. Like and subscribe guys, we put out an episode every week and we'd love to have you as a regular listener watcher, wherever it is that you get your podcasts.

Definitely if you guys can leave us an honest review, that would help out as well.

Hannah: Honestly, five stars.

Ryan: Honestly, Yeah., honest. We hope we deserve five star.

Hannah: Yeah.

Ryan: And honestly if it's a one. You know just keep your hands in your pocket. You're good. Yeah. We're we're we're fine.

Hannah: Keep it to yourself.

Ryan: Yeah.

All right guys, until next time. Thank you so much. All right. Aloha.

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