Business Should Prepare For Shift Towards Consultant Domination

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We’re on the cusp of a new professional era, one in which consultants will dominate the workplace, splitting their time between companies and taking their expertise on the road – but is your company ready for this new business model? Considering that 40 percent of American workers will be consultants by 2020, it’s time to evaluate how this will shape your business and how you intend to ease this transition.

By examining your company’s core needs, you can strategize and budget for a future beyond the full-time, salaried employee. Here’s what you can expect:

New Consultants Join the Market

Consulting isn’t a new field by any means, and particularly in some sectors, it’s always been a prominent position. Right now, however, we’re seeing an influx of new consultants into the marketplace, both because of an increased demand for these types of workers and a decrease in employment stability due to consultancy-oriented education.

Among those interested in branching out on their own, some may take an online consulting course, like that offered by top entrepreneurial consultant Sam Ovens, or may come out of long careers in an industry such as data management or programming. Both have their own advantages, but ultimately an individual consultant will only succeed if they can bring both skills and business savvy to the table.

The professionalization of consultancy has gone so far as to breed its own management and collaboration sites and programs, such as SkillQuoCares.com, a site focused on bringing a corporate edge to consultancy. Users can share field-specific white papers, learn new business management tips, and network with other consultants. Just because many consultants are independent operators, doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from contact with others in the field.

Set Time Tables

One of the best ways for your business to determine whether it can benefit from hiring a consultant is by breaking down how much time team members are devoting to different tasks. Is there enough work in a particular area year round to justify having a full-time staff member, or could you change employment models based on the available work?

Most small business, for example, don’t need a full-time lawyer on staff or even on retainer, but you may want to bring on a consulting lawyer if you’re applying for a patent or reconciling issues between multiple founding members. Similarly, your business may need to bring in consultants in specific areas during transitional moments, such as data migrations, software changes, or when launching a new project, basing your choices on specific, short-term skill needs. It doesn’t make sense to hire or train someone to do a job that won’t be needed again.

Look To The Future

Finally, it’s important to acknowledge that many of the tasks you’ll need to hire consultants for are not things your company may even be thinking about yet. They may be for jobs that barely even exist at this moment in 2017.

Let’s take AI and automation jobs as an example. Some major companies are beginning to implement AI systems now, but in the next few years, AI solutions for smaller businesses are likely to emerge. Consultants already have a corner on the AI market and they’re the ones you’ll call when it’s time to adjust your business around such a setup.

The rise of consulting doesn’t mean the end of regular employment models, but it does mean that an increasing emphasis on specialization makes sense. It will make individuals more employable during transitional phases and prepare them for a changing marketplace, while helping business owners and supervisors think more about how they divide work and organize worker roles.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.