So you want to be a consultant?

Then check out this guide from Steve Friedl's Unixwiz.net that is loaded with good advice, tips, anecdotes and instruction (most of which also applies to practicing law). A few samples:

"Why work 8 hours/day for someone else when you can work 16 hours/day for yourself?...

The single biggest surprise to prospective consultants is when I suggest that their technical skills will not be their biggest asset. Those skills are required, of course, and often help get you in the door, but the long-term customer relationships on which a consultant depends are built on one thing only:

Consulting maxim:
You must give the customer The Warm Fuzzy Feeling™

Your customer certainly has to believe you can do the job, but they cannot wonder if you're going to get back to them, or if you're going to do something stupid (again?), or offend one of their customers. Your practice is never more stable than when your customers trust you completely to take care of them..."

Some other consulting maxims from the article:

-"Trust" is your best job security
-You are primarily in the customer service business, not the technical business
-For a good consultant, your voice is comforting: Be very easy to find
-Customers hate "unhappy surprises" much more than "timely bad news"
-Ongoing business is much more important than maximizing every billable hour
-Detail is comforting to a customer
-If the customer doesn't know you did work off the clock, you don't get credit for it
-It's a huge asset to communicate well -- cultivate this skill vigorously
-Your references are your reputation in the consulting world
-The customer is NOT always right
-If you're booked up solid, your rates are too low
-Your long-term customers are your best customers
-Your customers are buying your judgment, not just your time
-Being known for your integrity is the Holy Grail of consulting
-Your references and your experience are far more important than your certifications
-"Education" is one of the best investments a consultant can make