Ever considered going independent? How about setting up your own consultancy? These are ideas and thoughts that cross most practitioners’ minds at some point or other. So, what are the top tips on actually doing so? Here are a few we gathered from a recent LinkedIn discussion (published with permission from the authors).
- Work out what you are really, really interested* in.
- Spend as much time as possible being interested in it.
- Find and hang out with others who are really, really interested in it.
- The rest sorts itself out.
* “Interested” means a real deep passion and insatiable curiosity. Not a vague subject. But something you’d run across a busy motorway to be interested in!
- Be really clear about how you can add value
- Be really clear about how much that value is, and how much of it is rightfully yours
- Be really clear in your messaging about both of those things
- Look for people to collaborate with
- Drop me a line
As someone who has been independent for so long that they are no longer employable, here are seven thoughts about starting up your own consulting business:
- Most people do not get trained on how to market or sell their services in graduate school, yet this differentiates high from low income consultants. Facts tell, but stories sell.
- Understand it takes 12-18 months of effort before winning business with new clients. This time frame can be shortened if you have already established relationships with key contacts.
- The bigger the net, the more fish you’ll catch. Use LinkedIn to make connections with potential clients.
- New consultants spend too much time building relationships with “below the line” contacts. These individuals can say no to proposals but are not empowered to say yes. Identify and build relationships with those who control the purse strings.
- Land and expand. Most clients have multiple needs, and a broad range of consulting skills improves the odds you’ll be given more work once you’ve delivered a project.
- Cash flow is more important than revenues when running a small business.
- Have a rainy-day fund. There will be times where there is little income, often due to no fault of your own
- Be clear on who your target audience is. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to be all things to all people.
- Embrace your uniqueness. There is only one you. While we can learn from what others are doing, don’t copy them. People hire people so be open about what you’re about and why people should work with you. It’s okay to have a personality 😀
- If you don’t have a strong digital presence, get that sorted ASAP. Write, draw, vlog, podcast – whatever works for you. Around 50% of my work now comes off the back of content I’ve shared online. Get posting!
- You can be independent and still continue looking for a full-time job
- Minimal viable product – instead of going for the website, branding all that stuff before starting practicing go for what you really need – Updated LinkedIn and professional indemnity insurance ( soothes my Neuroticism) then you can build everything else as you go along
- Its not necessarily about the new and shiny clients – make a list of 3 people you really enjoyed working with in the past and reach out to them for a catch up and at the end of the conversation ask if there is anyone in their network that it would be of benefit for you to chat to. Great, done that! now make a list of three more 🙂
- Have working hours, sometimes it can get hectic and you never switch off because maybe there is an email or a LinkedIn message which will lead to the next project, and there might be but it can wait till tomorrow morning, and there are more fun things to do in evenings than Linkedin (well that’s what I keep telling myself)
- Ask for help from your network and community cause no way anyone can make it right now on their own
Firstly be authentic. The freedom of working independently allows you the space to find your own voice 2) Whenever possible, favour those clients and projects you like best. 3) As soon as you can specialise in profitable business streams which you both enjoy and have a proven track record in. Good luck!
Thank you to everyone who shared their experiences and wisdom on this 🙂
About the Author
Nikita Mikhailov is a Psychometrician, his mission is to share the goodness of psychology. He is Business Psychologist, and a member of the British Psychological Society. His clients include Fortune 500 companies, start ups, individuals and couples. He specialises in supporting companies in recruitment and development of talent through a combination of psychometrics and coaching. His particular interest lies in how personality assessments can be used to increase self awareness and to help people make practical steps towards being more effective leaders and living more meaningful and fulfilling lives.