You’ve got your logo, you’ve decided on your incredibly witty, pun-based brand name, and you’re ready to head out and nail down your first clients.
You start mapping out your services when suddenly, it hits you.
Are you a contractor or a consultant?
After all, you want brands to consult you, and you also want to sign contracts.
And “contractant” or “consultractor” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.
Here, we will help you identify whether you should be promoting your services as a contractor or consultant, helping you create clear and concise branding for your business.
What Is a Consultant?
One of the primary aspects that a consultant covers is offering expert advice, guidance, and knowledge based on experience and expertise to a brand or client to help them take their business forward.
Consultants tend to get work when a company has an issue that needs solving. Perhaps they are trying to gain more organic traffic to their website, or maybe they need to improve their HR offering (perhaps after some unwanted Christmas party shenanigans). Ultimately, the requirements are the same.
See a problem, think of a solution, and help implement it.
People will often opt for consultants as they offer an objective view of the problem because are not influenced by any internal biases.
Don’t Skip: How Much Do Consultants Make?
The pros and cons
- Strategic influence: Consultants often have a more strategic role, providing high-level advice and influencing business decisions.
- Diverse projects: Consultants typically work on a wider range of projects and industries, broadening their expertise.
- Problem-solving: Consultants focus on addressing complex issues and offering holistic solutions.
- Longer sales cycle: It can take time to secure consulting contracts, delaying income.
- Complex marketing: Consultants often need to invest in marketing efforts to maintain a steady client base. That includes networking at industry events, personal branding on LinkedIn, and trying to leverage yourself in an industry as a “thought leader” (whatever that means).
- Greater responsibility: Consultants may face higher liability for their advice and recommendations.
What Is a Contractor?
All that sounds great, but how does it differ from what a contractor offers?
While the two terms are often interchangeable, there are some notable differences. For starters, a contractor tends to solve business problems by “doing” rather than “suggesting.”
Rather than advising on what should, could, or would be done, contractors are hired to get the job done. Contractors often specialize in a very specific niche. They are brought in for a set period to use that expertise to fix an issue or advance a business before moving on to the next project.
Instead of identifying how to handle Debra’s Christmas party antics, contractors will get hired to create and/or manage the next Christmas party (without a karaoke machine) and then move on to the next job.
The pros and cons
Independence: Contractors typically have more control over their work schedules and can choose which projects to accept.
Simplicity: The business structure for contractors is often simpler, with fewer administrative responsibilities compared to running a consultancy.
Lower Liability: Contractors may have lower liability compared to consultants, as their work is often focused on specific tasks rather than strategic advice.
- Income variability: Contractors may experience income fluctuations due to the project-based nature of their work, potentially leading to financial insecurity.
- Limited growth: Career advancement opportunities may be limited for contractors, as they often focus on performing specific tasks rather than providing strategic advice.
- Limited consulting opportunities: Contractors may have fewer opportunities to provide strategic advice or broader consulting services compared to consultants with a more advisory role and resume.
How to Choose the Right Option for You
Okay, so now you have a better idea of what a consultant is and what a contractor is, but you may not be any closer to deciding which one is right for you.
Here are some aspects to consider when making your choice.
What expertise are you providing?
Typically speaking, contractors offer specialized knowledge and services within a specific field, most commonly in IT, graphic design, media buying, or copywriting.
If you are a highly skilled individual in your niche and enjoy working solo on projects with minimal interaction with clients, contracting might be the way to go.
Alternatively, if you focus on broader areas of expertise and problem solving across several aspects of a business, you could be better suited to promote yourself as a consultant. For example, consultants regularly advise on executive strategy, supply chain, marketing campaigns, customer acquisition, and negotiations.
If you are good at reading people and prefer to get to know your clients at a human level, positioning yourself as a consultant is the way to go.
Do you prefer working working closely with clients?
Contractors tend to get hired to deliver specific tasks within a set deadline. As a result, their projects tend to be clear, concise and completed independently.
Consultants tend to work much closer with clients, offering guidance and recommendations on projects and helping shape the project with a more hands-on approach.
How do you want to get paid?
Contractors tend to get paid on a project-by-project basis, which can lead to a higher potential income, but more flexibility, whereas consultants tend to earn a more stable income.
What is your risk tolerance?
As contractors focus on specific tasks, there tends to be less risk involved, whereas consultants in certain industries can face more risk due to their more hands-on approach.
Start Generating More Leads to Your Brand
Regardless of whether you decide to set out your stall as a contractor or consultant, get your business off on the right foot with our free business-to-business lead generation guide.