10 things I wish I’d known before going independent

If you are considering an independent working career, then this article is for you.  We have spoken to many of our own independent consultants and gathered 10 of the most prominent things they wish they’d known before going independent.

1.    I am my own Master – and Master of All.

 One of the most common realisations made by many independent workers is the fact that, almost overnight, they have become salesman, marketer, service deliverer and bookkeeper.  
No longer do you have teams of people that look after individual functions of the business.  That now relies on you, and many independent workers face the challenge of giving themselves up to speed on the ins and outs of launching a new business,  almost overnight.
Take the time to learn as much as you can – like this broadcast we recently held that covered some this. 

2.    Facing Insecurity – head on. 

Doing anything new brings its own insecurity and many independent workers are often and share as to how to deal with this. Talmix consultant, Brigitte Herren, recently shared her own journey about becoming an independent worker, and how she overcame the  challenges associated with the risks of launching a new independent business.  
Making peace with the fact that the steps you are taking are big ones and require preparation, careful thought, strong supportive relationships and a truly entrepreneurial spirit.  Together with all of this, your chance of successfully managing your way through the risk and insecurity of a now independent working lifestyle could only lead to success.

3.    Setting a routine

For many consultants, the first challenge of a new independent working day was merely to build a routine that suited them and their clients.   Many of those who chose independence did so because they wanted flexibility but soon discovered that this new independent working lifestyle meant that they had to work twice as hard to get themselves established, losing many hours behind desks without even realising it. Setting a routine for something as little as a wake-up time, and a lunch hour, is critical to keep your brain active and to enable the best output.

4.    The power of my network. 

One of the most prized weapons in any consultant’s artillery is a strong, reliable, supportive business network.  Unfortunately, many consultants only realise the true value of a network too late and are driven to spending unnecessary time to build their network structure from scratch, redevelop relationships, and build new relationships.  For many of the consultants we have spoken to, almost all of them have noted that the biggest source of business development has come from within their own network -  perhaps someone they have worked with previously, or a word-of-mouth referral from someone they know.  

5.    Getting a good accountant 

You may try to be everything to everyone in order to launch your new independent service, but one thing you shouldn’t do, unless qualified, is attempt to be your own accountant.  As a now independent worker the game is different, tax laws are different, bookkeeping requirements are different, compliancy is different, and so it is critical for you as an independent consultant to ensure that you have the right accounting support looking to see you succeed.

6.    Flexibility is great – but beware of the 180-degree switch. 

Another very common misconception amongst many independent consultants is that an independent lifestyle brings much more free time, much more flexibility, much more control.  Although a lot of that is true, some consultants find that their new working lives have in fact made a 180-degree switch.  Where once they were focused on scheduling appointments and meetings for project work and research,  many now find themselves consumed by work, as a result facing the necessity to schedule free time into their diaries. 
Although you may have more control now, you will most likely find that your necessity to build credibility how’s you ending up working twice as hard. Balance is key. Make sure it’s there.

7.    The  power of a strong personal profile

 As an independent consultant you are stepping out on your own;  when you first start, you probably do not have any brand presence at all.  You are excited about a new way of working and you immediately get to work looking for business opportunities, but you risk neglecting the importance of building a solid personal brand.  Whether you are just starting out or whether you are looking to reinvent yourself, your personal brand constantly evolves and develops.  Here’s a great article we published recently that may help.
8.    How to set my Consulting rates

A very common question which many new independent workers often ask is how to determine their value and the service they provide, and correlate that to accurate consulting rates.  For many, setting your consulting rate is one of the most difficult and important parts of the process.  Some try to be too detailed while others aren’t detailed enough. We’ve put together a great webinar all about sitting consulting rates why not watch it here.

9.    How to succeed at an interview

 We all know that a person has one chance to create a good impression.  Perhaps your proposal has been successfully selected and your client wants to take your offering through to an interview stage.  For many consultants, this is where the process becomes daunting.  
For many it will be the first time when they are pitching to sell themselves without the backing of a large, corporate, probably global brand. Many consultants wish, with hindsight, that they had spent more time practising the art of an independent interview.  To help equip you with the tools you need to succeed an interview why not watch this is live broadcast all about the interview process.

10.    It may not suit everyone. 

 Remember, an independent working lifestyle may look great and appear to be the answer to a difficult situation, but for many independent consultants this new way of working just simply isn’t an environment that suits them.  Some spent many years working as independent workers and returned to the employed corporate world, while for others it was even shorter. Independent consulting is a different way of working.  There is no failure through trying but rather great success at giving something new a chance.  Whatever you choose to do, remember that every experience is a learning opportunity, and as soon as you realise that you’re learning curve is just beginning, the sooner you will see your course to success -  whether it be independent or not.


About the Author

Katy Roberts

Katy is an independent marketing consultant and founded Fresh Brew Marketing out of her love for the cuppa. A seasoned marketer, Katy writes for several global publications and provides outsourced marketing services to businesses throughout the UK. She is a keen geocacher and rates running around in city centres dressed in Christmas lights as one of her most successful Social Media campaigns to date.

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