Most people are afraid to step out of the traditional corporate box and work for themselves.
I was that way for years.
People at my job would tell me “You should be a consultant!” and I would react in horror, saying “No way! That’s not me! I am a corporate person all the way!”
What did I mean when I said: “I am a corporate person!”? I thought I meant “I want to work full-time with the same people for years” but in reality, I was saying “I’m afraid to start my own business! What if I fail? I would go broke — and make a fool of myself!”
We are not taught to think of ourselves as business owners. We are taught from an early age how to work for other people. In school, we are not taught how to manage our careers.
Once we become adults, nobody tells us “You could make more money working for yourself” or “If you really want to achieve your dreams, you might have to leave the corporate world behind.”
Instead, we are bombarded with messages that say “Work hard for your employer, and you’ll succeed!” Is that really true in the long run? I don’t think so!
Our great-grandparents were not employees. They were entrepreneurs — and they didn’t need a fancy unpronounceable French word to describe their status. They just got up every morning and did what they had to do around the farm or the shop. It was normal for them. Not us! We think we need a full-time job with benefits to survive.
You can work for yourself as an independent consultant. You don’t need special training or credentials. You can start consulting part-time — many if not most independent consultants got their start that way.
I got lucky. My boss got me a part-time consulting gig when I was 28.
He told me “I got a call from a guy who owns a business down the street from our company. He doesn’t have an HR department. He asked me to recommend an HR consultant to get him what he needs. I recommended you. You can go over there after work any day this week and talk to the guy.” I was terrified.
I walked down the street with my notepad and pen, and my heart in my throat. What if I embarrassed myself in front of the CEO I was about to meet? When I met him and heard his list of simple HR needs, I was surprised. I thought everybody knew how to get the required posters to put in the break room, and how to write an employee handbook.
We all think “I don’t know that much — how could I consult to businesses?” We forget how much we know!
I got paid $1000 for that consulting engagement, and the money felt more solid and real than my regular paycheck. I earned it by solving a specific problem that evidently was costing my client more than a thousand bucks. I felt as if I’d discovered gold — because I had!
You can start consulting alongside your current job or your job search. All you need is a business card. In the U.S., you can consult using your social security number. You can begin to network as a consultant, rather than a needy job-seeker. Your networking conversations will be livelier and more fun when you say “I’m a consultant” instead of “I’m job-hunting — know anyone who’s hiring?”
You don’t need to be an expert in any topic to start consulting on your own. Some clients need expert help and are willing to pay top dollar for it.
Others don’t need an expert’s opinion. There are clients at every point on the spectrum from novice-level to guru-level expertise.
The most important thing you can do for yourself and your career is to build new muscles — entrepreneurial muscles that this new-millennium working world requires.
When you launch a part-time or full-time consulting business, here are some of the things you’ll learn:
- How to identify Business Pain in your environment
- What kinds of Business Pain you solve for your clients and employers
- Your value to clients — that will be good for your confidence (and your job search)!
- How to create a consulting proposal
- How to negotiate your fees
- How to set boundaries and turn away work that doesn’t feel right
- How to run your business — something you will have to do throughout your career whether you work for yourself or someone else!
There is no better way to grow your muscles than to launch your own consulting business, either part-time or full-time. Why not step into your power in 2018, and see for yourself?