Do you have what it takes to become a consultant?

D. Gary Madden was certain he did. "I don't think you need to have entrepreneurial drive to be a consultant," says Madden. "You have to say,'This is what is important to me; this is what I do.' You have to trust that your vision has value to other people and make a sincere effort to service a variety of clients in a positive way."

Madden used his experience as a sales manager for two manufacturing companies to start RM Enterprises in Cincinnati five years ago. The company, which started out consulting to small manufacturing companies on sales and marketing, now focuses on customer service training.

Your personal assessment also should include answering three questions, says Lawrence F. Wilson, a certified professional consultant to management and faculty advisor at Century University in Albuquerque, N.M.

"You need to ask yourself: Am I capable of delivering? Can I walk into a company I know little about and provide service based on my knowledge of what that company does? Do I have set ethics and principles to give me direction and make me capable of saying to somebody, 'Can I help you?'" says Wilson, whose school is one of only five American universities offering a master's degree in business administration with a special consultancy concentration.

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