Consulting is a skill set which can be summed up by this quote by someone, “If you think it is expensive to hire a professional, wait till you hire an amateur”.
A good consultant is someone who not only can plan for the future but also foresee the imminent pitfalls which you might face in your project. Given enough time, anybody can do any job with a decent amount of perfection. The reason why consultants are brought in is to speed-up the process, bring in best practices in the industry and use their experience in architecting the requirements in the best possible way. To achieve this, a consultant needs to know what he/she is doing in the first place.
Mark Twain once said, "A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way”. A good Consultant is actually someone who has carried the cat by tail multiple times and that too another person's cat. And it is easier to learn from that consultant, rather than carrying the cat yourself and learning it the hard way.
So, does it mean consulting is all about experience? I would not be sure of that. But before explaining that, I would want you to ponder more about the definition of experience itself. Experience is something which you can gain in multiple ways. The way an accomplished academician or a scientist approaches a problem will be completely different from someone who has been in the industry for a decade. It doesn’t necessarily mean one approach is better than the other. The path might be different but both will try to achieve the same end goal and that is the way to see experience. Both academic experience and practical experience have its own pros and cons.
While writing this piece, I asked my Co-founder, Anshul Jain, and he said that an experienced person is someone who is either well read or well travelled. This is also a nice way, to sum up, experience. Our team at ABSYZ have developers and consultants from some of the best colleges with only few years of experience, but they can literally perform magic with code.
We also have people who have been in the industry for 12-15 years who cannot write a single piece of code but they can do a different magic act with MS Excel or powerpoint. The best solutions that we have come up are actually when you put together these two brains together.
Consulting is never a one man army project. To become a successful entrepreneur in consulting, you have to put together your learning’s from the past and merge it with the understanding of future. Especially in technology consulting, the current generation is more up to date and best solutions come up when you give these fast paced brains, the right processes and industry knowledge.
If you give them vague requirements, you will get a half-baked product. Garbage In, Garbage Out. So the task for seniors is nothing but ensuring no garbage goes in, in the first place and for that you need experience.
To sum it up, experience does matter to become a successful consultant but not really for an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur actually requires more experience in people management than technology. Young people tend to take more risk compared to industry veterans, and experienced entrepreneurs bring in a lot of maturity and network to the table.
Both have their own advantages and disadvantages. I have seen many people coming to entrepreneurship with a lot of experience in the industry and failing primarily due to risk averseness. Similarly, I have seen many young bright minds, full of confidence having absolutely no knowledge about what they are doing and this is a recipe for disaster.
So becoming an entrepreneur in the middle of your career is definitely a very good option because you bring in the right amount of experience and will be still young enough to take chances.