A code of conduct serves as a promise that you will deliver value to your clients in an ethical manner.

Common areas covered include setting realistic expectations, delivering promised outcomes, reporting time and costs accurately, not taking advantage of client weaknesses, keeping information confidential and acting within the law.

The IMCA requires that all members adhere to a common Code of Conduct as a condition of membership and this can serve as a basis for your practice’s code or used as it stands.

When first starting out, you may or may not have time to do everything that comes with running a consulting practice yourself. Therefore, you should evaluate whether or not you will need external support services to help you run your business in areas such as secretarial support, bookkeeping, legal, accountancy, graphic design and temporary staff. Utilising these services may allow you to focus on client work while paying others to take care of the nuts and bolts of running your business.

If you determine that you need external support services, you should make arrangements for these as soon as possible based on referrals from contacts or Internet searches for professionals offering them in your area.

Terms of Business refer to the basic conditions your consulting assignments are operated under.  They are set out in in a standard document that details how the items will be handled such as: contract and termination, fees, expenses, confidentiality, conflicts of interest and liabilities.

A sample Terms of Business document can be accessed here.

To ensure that you are compensated fairly and in a timely manner, you should develop clear billing and collections procedures and communicate these clearly to your clients in all relevant agreements.
As an independent consultant or an employee of your practice, you’ll need to make arrangements for your personal compensation, which includes salary and other benefits. Options include drawing a monthly set salary or periodically drawing down salary as finances allow.

IMCA members can take advantage of a tailored advisory service offered by Irish Health Insurance (IHI) which can generate significant savings in the rising cost of health insurance.

In addition, IMCA members are entitled to receive discounted access to medical screening at ‘The Well’ at Beacon Consultants Clinic, Sandyford and Mahon, Cork.

Consulting assignments will require several key documents to define the parameters of projects and to ensure you and your clients are in agreement on a variety of key issues including scope, objectives, deliverables, costs and time.

By creating standard templates for proposals, letters of engagement, confidentiality agreements, etc. you will be ready to apply them to any consulting project quickly and easily, customised as needed for individual consulting assignments.

Please refer to the Manage Assignments guide for additional information on creating standard templates to guide your consulting assignments.

Your practice can be physically located in a variety of settings: rented office space, a serviced office centre or in your own home. Each provides its own benefits and limitations.   If you are contemplating working from home you need to carefully consider if you can create the right environment for work, without interruption.

Furnish your office so that you can function successfully, bearing in mind that you may use it as a personal workspace, a meeting space for partners and clients, or both.

Items such as desks, chairs, extra workspaces, filing cabinets, conference tables and secure storage facilities such as a safe or locked cabinet may be needed.  Your office will require basic equipment including a telephone, computers, network and internet access and a printer.

If you only occasionally need access to particular items such as scanning and report binding, it may be beneficial to use professional print shops on an as needed basis instead.

A member cost saving offer from Office Depot provides benefits of easy online ordering, free next day delivery and 50% – 90% discounts off catalogue prices for a range of office supplies.

Your practice will require that you hold licensed copies of relevant software to help run both your consulting assignments and your business. Basic software includes word processing, presentation and spreadsheet software such as the Microsoft Office Suite or Open Office.

You may require financial management software if you decide to manage your accounting records in-house. To manage your contacts, clients and sales leads you may require database software or a customer relationship management system. Basic versions of these can be provided by spreadsheet.  In addition, depending on the services you provide, you may require specialised software in areas such as project management, financial modelling or graphic design.