You put in your time and paid your dues – is now the time to become an independent consultant? Countless hours in meetings, leading teams, managing stakeholders, and sleepless nights have given you the experience needed by businesses everywhere to help them get to where they need to go. So, are you ready to make the lucrative but terrifying jump from the safety of employee to independent consultant?
Here are the things to consider:
Are you ready and able to put others first?
If you need a steady income with benefits and job security, you are not ready. True Independent Consulting has to come from a place of putting the needs of your clients before your own. Sure, the per diems can be attractive, but you can no longer cling to the employee/employer relationship when the road gets rocky. Consultants are often brought in to be the bearer of bad news, state the hard truths, and be the face of change – all for the best of the business. That doesn’t always win you popularity contests but if you do your job well, put your clients and their business needs first, and get results, your reputation will precede you, gaining you new business.
Many times you’ll feel like the hero they deserve, and not like the hero they think they need.
Is your toolbox full?
Most clients won’t expect you to have all the answers on the first day (mind you, some might!), but they will expect that you have the experience, knowledge, training, and capability to learn and understand their particular business quickly in order to get them those answers. Make sure that your toolbox is full of well-oiled:
- Communications products and strategies – from speaking with CEOs to frontline staff, being upfront, clear, and professional goes a long way in getting your message received;
- Knowledge – As an Independent Consultant, the client is counting on you to bring the industry’s best standards and practices to the table. Not to say you need to buy into all the latest trends in your field, but you need to know about them, their pros & cons, and how to get the best from what is available for your client;
- Methodology – Have one and stick to it! If you’ve worked with a number of different methodologies and assembled something unique that works for you, great! Go with it! If you don’t, find one that someone else has created and follow it. Methodologies bring order and organization to your work, allowing you to paint a picture for management and outline a map for the client to follow as you lead them through change;
- Stress-relief: It could be exercise, TV, board games, reading, or anything that helps you get your mind off work, clients, and deadlines. You will need a way to blow off steam – so make sure you have some time set aside to relax your mind and body and relieve stress.
Always Be Closing
All Consultants are (or should be) experts, but not all experts are consultants. The biggest cause of failure for Independent Consultants is that they forget that they are a small business. And like any small business, you need clients to stay in business. Independent Consultants need to be ready, willing, and able to sell their skills, experience, and personality as right for the job. Whether you create a “sales character” for yourself, talk about yourself as a company, or promote yourself unabashedly, you must be willing to talk a good game, or someone else will swoop in and steal that big client out from under your nose.
If you are ready to serve clients, have a well-tuned consulting engine, and a willingness to shout your own name from the rooftops, you are ready to jump into the world of Independent Consulting. Now, just because you are ready, doesn’t mean you don’t need help diving in head first. MGIS has been working with Independent Consultants since 2001, making sure their CV is client ready, their LinkedIn profiles are getting hits, they’re set up with an SEO-powered website, providing them with graphic design and marketing materials, all to help approach and land them major clients.
If you think you’re ready to take the plunge, MGIS is here to help you make that switch from employee to the big world of Independent Consulting!