Becoming a Security Consultant

Author: IPVM Team, Published on Mar 27, 2014

Want to become a security consultant?

We spoke with the President of the International Association of Professional Security Consultants, Frank Pisciotta, about becoming a security consultant, looking at the importance of niches, how to overcome the challenges of the first year of being a new consultant and competing against product salespeople posing as consultants.

Becoming a Consultant

The first thing a person needs to do when deciding to become a consultant is figure out what kind of consulting they want to do, Pisciotta says. There are generalists who focus more on security management, consultants who testify in court as expert witnesses (forensic consulting) and then technical consultants (access control, perimeter security, surveillance, etc.).

“You have to find your area of expertise,” he said. “Once you figure that out, then you really need to learn the business of consulting. You can be a good pie maker but not know how to run a pie making business.”

Part of the IAPSC’s function is to help train security practitioners in the business side of consulting. It offers training courses at most of the major trade shows that put people in touch with veteran consultants.

Have a Niche

Consultants should not try to be everything to everyone, he says.

“It doesn’t work and you end up being confused on how to market yourself," he said. “Unquestionably, if you can find a niche and have a specialty, that helps. Once you find that niche and speciality, your credibility is enhanced and you can speak intelligently to that perspective.”

Why Most Consultants Fail

The first year as a consultant is a significant challenge, he says. The main reason consultants fail is because they have a hard time finding new clients.

“Finding your first client and getting clients secured is a significant challenge,” he said. “When people are purchasing security consulting, they’re buying on trust and experience. Tactics like line letters and direct mail don’t typically work to well.”

He recommends new consultants try and team up with more experienced consultants on projects to build up a portfolio and to get experience from someone who is already doing it. When a person joins IAPSC, they are assigned a mentor that can help them with that, he said.

He also says consultants should go to where potential clients are going to be. For example, a workplace violence consultant “is going to want to be going places where you find human resources folks,” he said.

Consider Easing into It

Many people will start their consulting businesses while still employed to help them get through that first year.

“It may take a couple years to build a practice so some people do it while they still have a paycheck coming in. They begin to take on a few projects and ease into it over a period of time,” he said. It’s a good strategy for people who don't want to jump in head first, he said.

Real Consultants vs. People Who Consult on Security

People selling products are not consultants, he says.

“Nine times out of 10, somebody has a product attached to what they’re doing. It’s prolific and it’s very difficult for an independent consultant to compete against that,” he says.

For example, guard companies will offer free consulting and site assessment, but in almost all cases they will come to the conclusion that the client needs more guards, he says. He says those free assessments aren’t looking holistically.

He created this chart for a presentation he gives to aspiring consultants on this topic:

“If you’re consulting on cameras and you’re selling cameras, you’re a salesman. IAPSC takes a hard line on independence and ethics. You can’t be pushing things from manufacturers,” he said.

Comments (2): PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Most Recent Industry Reports

Knightscope - $122,509 Revenue, $2.5 Million Loss Seeks $20 Million Investment on Dec 09, 2016
The robot that ran over a child, Knightscope, wants money and they need it. Investors can invest as little as $1,000 to participate and...
The Russian SMP Security Robot on Dec 08, 2016
A Russian manufacturer, SMP, has a commercially available outdoor security robot, at a lower price and with much less marketing than their main...
How Hikvision Beats Its OEMs on Dec 08, 2016
Hikvision GM declared that they are not aggressive with their competitors. But some of their own OEM partners disagree. Inside, we reveal a key...
Dahua Discontinuing H.264 Only Products on Dec 08, 2016
Dahua has taken a stand for H.265 and is discontinuing its H.264 only products. We examine the shakeup inside this...
IP Networking Course January 2017 on Dec 08, 2016
This is the only networking course designed specifically for video surveillance professionals plus it includes live training, personal help and...
Hikvision vs Dahua Mobile Apps Tested on Dec 07, 2016
With smartphone use and low-cost video recorders surging, many user's main interface to their surveillance system is their phone. With mobile video...
Paxton Drops US Reps, Plans Major Expansion on Dec 07, 2016
Paxton is gearing up to make a big run at  US access control success. The first step they have made is to cut all US Rep Firms, in anticipation of...
Axis Partner Elder Care Video Analytics (Smartervision) on Dec 07, 2016
Can video analytics be used to improve the care of the elderly? Axis and a video analytics startup, Smartervision, are working together to do so....
Sony IP Camera Backdoor Uncovered on Dec 06, 2016
A backdoor has been uncovered in ~80 Sony IP camera models, attackers can remotely enable telnet on the camera, and then potentially login as root,...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact