If you enjoy working with Information Technology and want to be self-employed than you might be interested in working as an IT-consultant. Working as an IT consultant brings unique challenges. You may need to keep up with the developing technology and you need to grow your own customer base. If you find a specialty in the field of IT Consultancy in which you enjoy working, an IT Consultant job can be rewarding and lucrative. Ondrej Papanek share his best tips on how to become an successful IT Consultant in Sweden.
1. Could you please tell me more about yourself, what do you work with right now?
My name is Ondrej Papanek and I am originally from Czech Republic. I have been living in Austria, Germany, Czech Republic and now in Sweden. I have a very strong background in IT and management that spans over 9 years. I am working in mostly IT and my customers are listed as fortune 500. I am talking about Colt Technology Services, Mondelez International, Scania and Goldman Sachs.
At the moment I am working for the clients previously mentioned, in the banking and technology industry. IT consultancy companies will want to see at least a couple of years of experience on your resume. I had five years of experience before I started getting consultancy contracts within IT. It’s valuable when you need to generate a list of potential clients for your business.
I also have a strong academic background that enabled me to work as an IT consultant. Choosing the right major will ground you in technology. I have a bachelor degree in ICT and management and later on I finished two master degrees. I have a master’s degree in Digital Marketing from Curtin University and Master’s degree in Cloud Computing at University of Maryland University College.
2. How did you know your business idea would succeed, how did you do your research?
I started my first company in Vienna, Austria where I was offering services for business owners. Later on I was working 3 years selling accessories for smartphones on German Ebay and Amazon. I saw big gap for accessories in the German market to smartphones and I therefore imported goods from China and listed it on Amazon and Ebay on the german market. I was top in 100 seller on Ebay during that time.
I did research before selling accessories on Ebay and Amazon. I did a trend search to get answers on what is trending on the market and possible to sell. It was only few years ago that the iPhone launched and got very popular. Many people easily dropped the phone and it broke and that is why I saw a need for good cases and I managed to get hold of the number one case during that time. It was one of the best selling cases in Germany on Ebay. I was also participating a lot of conferences to get the latest trends. I was participating the CES conference in Las Vegas and got in contact with the case manufacturer there.
After the period selling accessories to smartphones in Germany, I moved to Sweden in the end of year 2014 where I started my own company. It was a company for business owners. I had a team of more than 10 people during that time including hardware specialists, business developers, agile coach, industrial designer and other positions. It was going very well but it was a challenge with paper work in Sweden on how to register the company, how to get funding and social security number. We faced a lot of obstacles. Later on we managed to remove the obstacles and the company was running smoothly.
It was difficult to get a personal number, but it worked after showing my fundings and after that I was able to get social security number. I was the founder and IT-manager. We offered IoT products for businesses.
Later, I turned into consulting services. That was in year 2017. I was working with IT-consultancy already in 2011 and had previous experience before taking on the consultancy services in year 2017.
I saw a high demand in IT when searching for consultancy contracts and also commercials. I applied for certain positions and after at time when I got experience people such as recruiters contacted me on Linkedin in need of my experience.
3. How did you create your business plan? Did you use a template?
I did my research before starting a career in IT consultancy. I saw a big demand on services related to IT, computer, infrastructure and IT-Management in Sweden where I lived and operated. I therefore saw an opportunity to offer my services in the area I was specialized in. The IT consultancy is a large field so it’s important to decide what specific type of job you want in the field. Test different areas if you are unsure on what to specialize in.
4. How did you plan your finance? Did you take a loan or was it not a lot of money required to start your own business?
When you start small you don’t need a lot of fundings. I also received an income from another position where I was employed so I used that money to grow the business. My recommendation when starting a new business is not to take a loan immediately because you don’t know if the company will fly or not. It’s better to start your company while having a fixed income or save a lot of money before you start building your business. If you have a fixed income it could be ok to ask about loan or investment. Try your business idea during a year while having another income.
5. How did you decide on your business structure? Did you decide to be alone with your business?
I have a business advisor and coach for my career and I get a lot of advice from him. I met my coach on a conference in Stockholm. It was a Google Cloud conference. We scheduled a meeting after that. He is a independent consultant so he’s not connected to a large organisation.
The business structure is determined by the level of demand in the market. I outsource some tasks to people that are better at it such as writing articles, copywriting or design if my clients or my company have a need of it.
6. What is the name of your company and how did you pick the specific name of your business?
The name of my consultancy is Ondrej Papanek Consulting. I choose the specific name because I want to promote my name, build my brand and increase awareness of it. I choose this name because I want my company to be listed when someone search for my name on Google.
7. How did you get licenses and permits in Sweden?
For me it was not a problem to get a work permit in Sweden because I am a european citizen. I went to Skatteverket when it comes to register the company and license. You can also go to Bolagsverket and get your company registered.
8. Which Accounting system did you choose?
I used Visma in the beginning, but it was complicated and expensive at that time I used it so I switched to Zipbooks. There is also Bokio that is used by many in Sweden.
9. What location does your business have today and why did you choose it?
My business location is Stockholm and Sweden. I choose to have my business in Stockholm Sweden because it’s connected to the address where I live. It is also good to be established in Stockholm, Sweden because there is a big demand for IT consultants here.
10. Are you going to hire a team in the future? How would you start getting your team set up?
The future looks bright for my business as there is a huge demand and I will hire more people based on the needs of my clients. It’s always good to add special skills to your team to offer your clients the best service. Either you have the skills inhouse or you outsource it.
I am also advancing my career by finding my own niche. A specialty that I enjoy. By getting experience and certificates in that area I am able to advance my career and earn promotions.
11. How do you get a job as a consultant? How do you promote your business and what is the most effective channel?
Companies find me on Linkedin, Google or job boards so it’s important to have your profile updated. I make use of my network, apply for jobs and make sure I’m presenting myself with professionalism and confidence online and on interview. I am also prepared to follow up with clients and focus on long-term client relationships.
I also have a website where i promote my services. It is named ondrejpapanek.consulting. A website is useful to visualize your previous projects and also write content on a blog in the area you are passionate about.
I continue being motivated because I like the freedom, independence and the travelling. My parents also owned their own shop and they are a great inspiration for me to have my own business.
I like self-development and it is possible when being a consultant. I attend conferences, complete certificates and follow the newest trends online. It is very important to be updated on the latest trends, especially in the information society we live in. The competition is getting stronger and we need to be ahead of the competition to be visible and relevant.