Confident but cautious: the perfect mindset for a successful consultant

Motivation and fun

28 April 2016

Working as a self-employed consultant takes a certain amount of bravery and discipline, not to mention being incredibly organised and analytical. But what other personality traits does a successful consultant need? We examine the perfect consultant personality mix.


Confidence in your own abilities goes without saying: after all, you wouldn't be self-employed if you didn't know that you're good at what you do. Consultants need confidence to take their first steps out of the traditional office environment and begin working for themselves. Self-assurance is essential when it comes to pitching to clients, and assertiveness is key to holding your own during negotiations over pay and contract terms.


The world of freelancing can sometimes be lonely, with 48% of homeworkers feeling lonely at times*. So consultants working from home need to be comfortable in their own company – and able to get through the week without the usual chit-chat around the watercooler. In a recent survey of professionals, we found that almost two thirds (60%) either don't (or rarely) miss being part of a larger team. However, if you do take on a short-term role in-house, you also need to be good at flitting in, or happy enough to sit alone if there's no room for you in the office clique.


Naturally, working from home is very different from working in an office. There's no-one watching the clock and waiting for you to arrive, and the only person relying on you to get out of bed before 9am is you. Consultants also need to be motivated to build their personal brand, chase new clients and attend networking events. This can often take a back seat to paid work, but is just as important for building a career. Our survey found that 39% of professionals have joined a business networking group either to socialise, keep up-to-date on industry issues or to get new ideas and gain contacts.

Caution and risk-awareness

Successful consultants know and accept their own limits, areas of expertise and knowledge gaps. While saying yes to every project is a good way to get clients on-side in the short-term, in the long-term it can lead to a situation where you over-promise and under-deliver.

So what did we miss? Is there an attribute you think all good consultants need to be successful? Let us know in the comments below.

*Based on a study of 330 professionals working from home conducted by AXA Business Insurance in January 2016.