If you’ve never thought about working for yourself as an independent consultant (either part-time or full-time) I don’t blame you.
I never thought about it either.
In fact, when people would sometimes tell me, “You should be a consultant!” I’d recoil in horror.
I was a corporate person, through and through.
Here’s what I thought about consulting:
- Consulting is something only very senior people can do – recognized experts in their fields.
- Consulting is incredibly hard. Clients expect you to know all the answers.
- Consulting is a tough way to make money. You’re always looking for your next client.
- Consulting is lonely.
- Consulting stinks because you may have one triumph, and then you’re done with that client and back in your living room staring at the walls.
I have a pretty good idea how these myths about consulting got implanted in my brain.
Looking back, I realize that as a kid I was taught that most people go to work for companies, either large or small. Most people get a paycheck. I didn’t know any independent consultants when I was younger.
In the media, entrepreneurs are portrayed as daring risk-takers. They are treated like exotic people, entirely different from the rest of us.
This is nonsense, of course.
It used to be safe to stay in one job or in one company for decades, but it isn’t safe anymore. It may be the riskiest thing you can do. (Also, it’s difficult to impossible to pull it off because layoffs).
It used to be safe to curl up in the corporate or institutional burrow and go to sleep on your career, not thinking about where you’ll be or what you want in the long term.
That’s not safe now!
We are all entrepreneurs, whether we work for ourselves or someone else.
You are the CEO of our career and our life.
No one is going to look out for your career, least of all your employer. (No hate toward employers – I am one, after all – but nonetheless no one is going to manage your career if you don’t do it.)
The more steps we take into our entrepreneurial power, the better.
You take a step when you negotiate a job offer or some aspect of your job.
You take another step when you realize your job isn’t doing it for you anymore and you start reading job ads or talking with recruiters.
Those are great steps to take. You’ll grow your muscles every time you step.
Still, the best way to grow your entrepreneurial muscles, the ones we all need to build these days, is to start an independent consulting practice of your own. You can do it on a very small scale at first. You can take on small projects outside of your working hours, or alongside school or your job search.
The important thing is to do it. There’s something about performing work directly for clients that is entirely different from putting in another workday at a regular job.
Here are ten reasons to think about starting your own consulting business:
- People need help. Clients have projects they can’t do on their own, either because they lack and expertise or they just don’t have time.
- Your job is limited, but consulting isn’t. Anyone who’s begged their boss to give them meatier assignments or let them work with a new tool (to no avail) can relate. Consulting lets you build your toolkit and credibility in areas you might not get to dive into at your regular job.
- An extra income is a good thing. As a consultant you bring home money that isn’t tied to your regular paycheck but more than that, the extra income reminds you that it’s still your life. You give 100% at work but you still get to use your non-working hours how you choose.
- Consulting builds your confidence, network, and professional visibility.
- You can consult in areas you’re just learning. Some clients want expert consulting help and are ready to pay expert-level fees. Others want to pay less and are happy to have you learn on the job.
- Consulting uses your brain in a way your regular job may not – and your creativity, too.
- Consulting is a natural pathway to your next job (unless you decide to grow your consulting business to become your full-time thing).
- Consulting gives you a portfolio of work it can be hard to acquire at a traditional job.
- The more you propose work to clients, negotiate fees and project manage the assignment, the better a businessperson you become.
- Consulting shakes us out of the mindset “I am my job title” or “I am my job description.” You are neither of those things, of course! You are whomever you want to be – and the journey to see who you become is more important than the destination!
In my course Take Charge Consulting I teach you step-by-step how to plan, launch and grow your independent consulting business (even if you’ve never consulted before, don’t consider yourself an expert in any particular topic and/or hate selling)!
You don’t have to know what kind of consulting you want to do – we’ll cover that in the course along with:
- How to brand yourself
- How to identify your target clients
- How to build out your services
- How to set your fees
- How to market your business
- How to create proposals
…and much more!
Learn more about it here!