The first article ever listed on the Professional Consultant’s Association website was titled What Is A Consultant?, which came out early in the 2000’s and was written by our just retired former president. The 3rd article written on this blog was titled Are You A Consultant?. Two articles, 8 years apart, with each article containing some things that were similar and yet some things that were dissimilar.

Businesswoman consulting a partner
Peter Hayes via Compfight

Fast forward three years and we now get to totally redefine what a consultant is once again. Yes, there are still some similarities, but the types of people who we’d consider as consultants and the types of work they do can differ greatly than it did in the past when it seemed consultants were finitely defined. Indeed, PCA has the benefit of being able to change with the times, and it’s probably a smart move to do so. It makes our organization and the profession of consulting much more inclusive.

For instance, the idea that a consultant had to either be totally independent or working as a titled “consultant” in a consultancy has been thrown out, if not officially then by action.

In our organization, some members or potential members work full time for someone else and offer consulting on the side. Some also do a type of consulting within the confines of the job they do without the title while working more independently without necessarily being tied down to a 9-5 time frame.

In our organization we have people who sometimes step in and act in an employee role for a short period of time. Some of them will allow themselves to be on a W-2 schedule while others stick to being a 1099 contractor. It’s interim work rather than what consulting used to mean, but it pays, the person is still independent in a great fashion, thus still qualifies as a consultant.

One of the questions PCA has discussed over the past few years is one of our cardinal rules, that being that consultants have to make at least 50% of their income by providing services and not selling products. That’s an interesting rule because we have courted entrepreneurs, people who have been developing products they want to sell in the marketplace, people who buy into MLM’s as independent contractors, as well as people who buy franchises. We’ve even had restaurant owners and catering service owners as part of the membership here and there.

In the second article alluded to above there was this quote: “If you own a pizza shop, you’re not a consultant, even if you’re the only one working there.”

Whereas that might still be literally true, it’s a boundary that these days is overcome by the reality that it’s more about being an independent worker or small business owner, even if as the owner you have employees working under you, because your needs and concerns are the same as those of the independent consultant.

When all is said and done we all have the same issues to learn: marketing, working with others, branding, technology and networking. To buck the trend of other organizations that seem to be falling apart by being too rigid in some of their qualifications, our organization looks to become more open and accommodating while still working our certification program. Just like any other organization or even company, it’s our diversity that will make and keep us stronger.

If you fit the bill, we welcome you to visit, tell others, and grow with us.

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