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How to Succeed as an Independent Consultant

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How to Succeed as an Independent Consultant


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Consulting is first and foremost a business. Remember that if you want to hire a consultant – or become one.

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable
  • Insider's Take


Take a deep breath and sit where the light is good as author David Zahn (who wrote this with the late Herman Holtz) attempts to describe everything about consulting in 400-plus pages of small type. The book realizes a good bit of its ambitious goal, though not without cost. Information is abundant, but not tidy. In this fourth edition, chapters pile up as the authors add coverage of new technologies to their previous reporting on older forms of media. The result is a big onion: layers and layers of information. Some are useful, topical and important; some dated, redundant or irrelevant. You can skim the parts that don’t affect you, but a tougher editor would have slimmed it down and combined some basic chapters, such as the extra treatment of marketing and second careers. However, if you persist, you will garner some valuable information, especially about the competitive process of bidding for government consulting contracts. considers this book worthwhile for those who are serious about becoming consultants. Just be diligent about ferreting out information that is pertinent to you (and bring a magnifying glass).


Is Consulting Legit?

Consulting is an odd profession. No one agrees on exactly what consultants do or what skills are needed to perform the job. The rise in specialization and outsourcing, and the aging of the workforce have created a need for expertise on demand. Jobs may have evaporated and employees may have retired, but companies still seek experienced talent.

Consulting is: "the science of providing objective relevant guidance and counsel to decision makers without possessing an ownership stake in the decision." Consultants provide new approaches to solving problems, develop new strategies and enhance old skills or teach new ones. They must address business problems and direct their information at those who can apply it. Consultants offer objective advice, provide designs that others can replicate and advance the client’s business.

Consultants are accountable for the projects or reports they are hired to complete, but the outcome of how a client uses or doesn’t use a consultant’s advice is the client’s responsibility. The consultant can only offer guidance. Holding the client accountable serves a purpose. Consultants who become accountable for clients’ results...

About the Authors

David Zahn, an authority on consulting, is the cofounder of Clow Zahn Associates. His clients have included major national companies, primarily in the food and consumer goods industries. The late Herman Holtz was a nationally recognized authority on business and consulting, and the author of more than 45 business books.

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    A. 1 decade ago
    The abstract of this book does not express the benefits of the whole content clearly.
    The knowledge of the abstract is not persuasive.
  • Avatar
    H. S. 1 decade ago
    Summary gets 7 points as it is well done. Not sure if I would want to go through 400 pages as the points in the summary are pretty much common, even if you had even a short consulting experience. Content is enough for one-read, no need to revisit.

    Summary will be of good help to someone who is starting with independent consulting.

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