5 tips to getting started as an self-employed consultant

Whether you’ve just set out as an independent consultant, exploring this new world of working as a freelancing, self-employed bubble of knowledge and experience, or whether you’ve been doing this for years – reviewing the value that you give to your clients is anything but a once-off activity.  We explore 5 tips that all new independent workers should keep in mind when starting out. 

1.    Trying to be everything to everyone

If you’re just starting out – you’ll no doubt be faced with the understandable mild panic of ‘going it alone’. Away from the umbrella of a covering brand with marketing, finance, HR teams who just get things done and allow you to focus on your core role – you now become all of them personified – and you have to do that while promoting and selling your new consulting services. And so often, in this panic to drive business, and assert your capability as a now independent worker, streamlining your core service is often overlooked as you try to do as much as you can to satisfy everyone.  Before you start to set your rates, identify exactly what your core services are going to be. Know what you’re good at, what you enjoy, what matters to you. And stick to it. 

2.    Get an accountant you can trust

In a recent broadcast, we discussed the art of marketing yourself as an independent consultant. Gone are the days where various functions within a business performed a role for you. As a recently independent worker, you have probably realised that you are Salesman, you are Marketer, you are chief negotiator, you are Boss. And while you could probably do most of these things yourself, there’s one thing that you probably should never – and that’s your accounting.  Regardless of your location, there are probably several things that you need to be doing as a self-employed worker – whether it’s tax-related, or government registered, whether it’s healthcare or pension – making sure you remain compliant and above-board is a critical part of self-employment – and one that is often overlooked. For some consultants that we’ve spoken to, hiring an accountant cost them more than what they were initially bringing in – however, what their accountant saved them in terms of grants, tax relief and compliancy, was more than what they could have imagined. 

3.    Set a routine: You’re at work

For many who have walked this path before – the early days of independent working may have started with excitement and readiness but very quickly, merged into a complete focus on work, that it is suddenly when the postman knocks on your door at 2pm in the afternoon, that you realise you are still not dressed, and you haven’t yet had breakfast. The first step to an independent life, is to establish routine. Plan your day – and set your alarm. Don’t wait for incoming mail to determine the direction of your day. Instead, ensure that you balance your working day with enough exercise, routing, healthy eating. Behave in just the same way that you would have as if you were starting with the next big corporate – and stick to that. A sales pitch, albeit over the phone, is better delivered in a suit, than pyjamas. 

4.    Test your pricing models

Following on from our recent articles and broadcasts about setting your rate as an independent worker – once you have what you think is a winning recipe – test your theory on your network. Whether you’re looking at offering package pricing, added value through discounts, goal-based reduced rates or retainers – your network will very quickly provide you with concise feedback that will enable you to be perfectly positioned, or seriously misaligned, with the services you are trying to provide. And if your network thinks your ‘ballpark figures’ are wrong, your prospective clients won’t give you a second glance. 

5.    Banish Guilt

I once heard it said, “When I’m at work, I feel guilty about not being with my children. When I’m with my children, I feel guilty about not doing my work. It’s classic lose-lose situation.”  Remember – you chose the independent life because you probably wanted a more flexible, self-controlled working environment. You were looking for a balance that would give you what you need while at the same time, providing the perfect opportunity to deliver the services and expertise you’ve become good at.  So why fill that desire for balance with self-guilt that now imposes a new type of rigidity. Plan your time around what you need to deliver, what you desire – and the rest will take care of itself. 


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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