“Personality is to a man what perfume is to a flower” – Charles M. Schwab
When you first started your career, you may have felt that your job was a good match for your personality. Now, after so many years performing the same tasks you may feel burnt out, or the situation has changed, or your job has the potential of being outsourced. People change, too. We mature, our priorities change, and experience brings a different approach to the world than when we began our career.
Considering alternative employment possibilities after performing one job for a significant portion of your work life and struggling to determine where you fit elsewhere is a real concern. Various advertisements, articles, and peer testimonials might have you assessing whether the path of the entrepreneur will connect your current life to the life you have only dreamt.
Consulting, coaching, and freelance jobs will be a part of everyone’s future as they will always be in need. By 2020, the number of contingent workers–freelancers, temps, part-time workers, and contractors–will exceed 40 percent of the U.S. workforce.
Moreover, the opportunity to obtain freelance consulting or coaching work is much greater than many people expect. There are several additional advantages to being a consultant such as job security, the flexibility of working the hours you choose, selecting your clients, and the diversity of not having to do the same job every day.
Understanding your personality traits aids in deciding if a consulting, coaching or freelancing career is for you. Does your personality type match the demands of the entrepreneur lifestyle? Let’s find out.
Discover how you judge & perceive the world
About 80% of Fortune 100 companies have used a psychometric test called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to determine if potential employees are the right fit for the job. The MBTI can be used to your advantage in evaluating whether you could thrive in the consultant world.
The test identifies eight “preferences” and then categorizes personality types according to the interactions among those preferences. The word “preference” is important. If the test identifies that you have an intuitive preference over a sensing preference that doesn’t mean that you lack anything on the sensing side of things. There is no right or wrong here. You can’t fail the MBTI test. Its goal is to help you obtain a better understanding of how you prefer to operate in the world.
The eight preferences are:
1) Extraversion (E), or 2) or Introversion (I) – Do you prefer the world that is outside for exploration (E), or do you enjoy your innermost thoughts and ideas (I)?
3) Sensing (S), or 4) Intuitive (N) – Do you prefer to work with basic information (S) or do you dig into the deeper meaning (N)?
5) Feeling (F) or 6) Thinking (T) – Are your decisions based more or circumstances (F) or logic (T)?
7) Judging (J) or 8) Perceiving (P) – Are you quick to finalize decisions (J) or are you more open to possibilities and seeking additional knowledge (P)?
The test determines the interaction between the eight preferences and combines them into one of 16 personality types. Let’s look at the first one in the table below—ISTJ or Introversion-Sensing-Thinking-Judging. According to the Myers Briggs Foundation, someone identified with an ISTJ personality is quietly systematic, factual, organized, logical, detailed, conscientious, analytical, responsible, pragmatic, critical, conservative, decisive, stable, concrete, and efficient. That certainly sounds promising for a consultant, but as the Myers Briggs Foundation points out, there is no “best type.” The test doesn’t measure ability or character, which are also critical for career success.
The MBTI test is a good place to start, though. If you’re interested in taking the test, you have several options—online, or in person, and with an MBTI Professional or without. To take the test online, go to mbtionline.com. There is a minimal fee, but when it comes to decisions about your future, it’s money well spent.
Just because one personality type results from the MBTI, doesn’t mean that you’re locked into the suggested occupations.
There’s a paragraph in the Myers-Briggs book – Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type that explains we should never be discouraged from obtaining the job we desire based on not fitting the mold.
You have something that others do not have. Personality, ability, and character make you unique. Combined with your professional expertise, those traits might put you on a path to a successful consulting career.
Do you have the personality of a great consultant, coach, or freelancer?
Before embarking on your freelance journey, see how your newly discovered personality compares.
- Confidence – Having confidence in your abilities and being able to look at a problem and say, “I can solve it.”
- Being a teacher and being teachable – One of your primary jobs is to coach individuals or corporations. Also, you must be willing to continue to seek information and gain knowledge to improve your consulting techniques and keep your skills current.
- Flexibility – Different clients have special needs. Be open to their demands and be creative in finding ways to accommodate them while maintaining control over your life.
- Assertive – Times will come where you must put your foot down and stand behind your decision. Remember, you are the expert and you control your time.
- Practical and theoretical – Not every plan works for every situation. Understand the concept or theory behind the project and make necessary adjustments.
- Problem Solving – Clients seek your knowledge when they have problems. Your service is essentially solving their problems and creating solutions.
- Listening – Listen to the client’s needs. Don’t interrupt when they’re speaking. Get the full picture before formulating a solution.
- Sociable – Network. People work with people. Be remembered so that when a need for your type of expertise comes up in conversation, you’ll get the referral.
- Discipline – Working on your own requires discipline. Planning your day, using the correct tools, and always learning all require setting rules or goals for yourself.
Do you see some personality similarities that may catapult you into your consulting career?
The drive of the great consultant, coach, or freelancer
The stress of making all the hard choices for a company is taxing on a business owner’s mind and body, potentially leading to bad business decisions. Having an advisor and guide to help with those hard choices is among the top reasons businesses hire a business consultant.
Many entrepreneurs mean well when positioning themselves as a consultant but fall short when it’s time to follow through. Set yourself up for success and review these qualities of the effective coach:
- You love teaching – Not everyone you serve learns the same way. Is your teaching ability varied enough to cover the range of learning personalities? Do you enjoy helping other people reach their goals?
- You’re experienced – Can you prove your worth? People who wish to hire you will want to see a track record of success and experience. Some will ask for references to back up your claims.
- You hold people accountable – When times get hard, a good consultant helps the client stand strong and holds them accountable for the choices they make.
- You’re well-connected – You won’t know everything, but maybe someone you’re connected with does. Start early connecting with individuals of various disciplines and experiences whom you can call upon when you need another kind of expertise.
- You’re open to sharing ideas – A good coach recognizes that there is always room for improvement, room to learn, room to grow—for those they coach AND for themselves.
- You have a great attitude – You’ve experienced some highs and lows in your career, but you’ve learned patience, humor, and persistence—qualities that help you better relate to your client and perform in all your consulting projects.
Is freelancing right for you?
Going from a team or structured corporate environment to working on your own is exciting, but now everything is on your plate. Freelancing isn’t for everyone, but for those with the personality, expertise, and drive, it can provide freedom, flexibility, and financial independence. Trying to fit some type of ideal, top-notch freelancer mold is not realistic. It’s your unique talents and characteristics that matter most.
Seek assistance as you begin your consulting journey and learn from the experience of others to avoid unnecessary pitfalls.
The MBTI test is a great tool to focus your decision on your next career venture.
After completing the test, you will gain perspective on your personality and which jobs complement your personality type. Finding out that your personality doesn’t fit the classic criteria of a consultant or a freelancing entrepreneur doesn’t mean the end.
Position yourself for success. With vision and purpose, perform daily tasks to help you be successful:
- Seek knowledge from experienced professionals.
- Read daily and encourage knowledge. Go online and take classes to improve your knowledge base.
- Mimic the behaviors of those who are where you wish to be until you develop your own unique flow.
- Network via social media or events with strong-minded consultants, listening to their journeys.
- Start small and do some independent consulting, freelance, or coaching work to gain experience and accumulate testimonials for your resume.
Remember, you have a unique skill set others lack. With guidance and focus, your approach to consulting could far surpass your expectations.
Opterre is here to help.
We provide the roadmap for helping you become a successful consultant in the field of your choice. Our guidance shortens your path through the activities top consultants utilize to reach results.
Click here to download an infographic to start your journey to being a great consultant.