The idea of becoming your own boss as an independent consultant or freelance professional is your dream. You choose your clients and projects, you set your wage, you focus on doing what you love, and you can live a more flexible lifestyle.
But how do you know if you’re ready? And how do you make the transition from an employee to an independent consultant? Here are some questions to ask yourself some steps to help you succeed in the independent consultant world.
Are you ready to be a Freelance Professional?
Here are three signs you’re ready to take the leap:
1. You have experience in your field, and you’ve developed reliable expertise and specific skillsets. You’ve not only mastered techniques, but you have confidence, teamwork, communication, and interpersonal skills.
2. You have a network of clients, colleagues, and peers you can draw on to help you find new work and endorse your skills. Or, you’re part of a platform, such as Oomple that can help you get connected to companies you want to work with.
3. You want more control over your schedule and workload and you’re open and prepared for the variability that comes with consulting.
Steps to being a Successful Consultant:
So you’ve got the skills to be a great consultant. But how do you get started?
Pinpoint your strengths.
How are you going to position yourself as an expert? What specialized skills and knowledge do you have to offer potential clients? Back it up with demonstrated experience and references.
Figure out how to market yourself.
Now that you’ve determined the unique skills you have to offer, you need to spread the word and convince potential clients you have what it takes to deliver their project successfully. Decide exactly who you’re going to target. Build a website. Join Oomple. Consider offering a reasonable rate at the start to land your first few projects.
Keep building your network.
Put in the effort to maintain solid relationships with colleagues and clients you already know, and keep expanding your circle. Make sure you tell everyone in your network about your new venture as a consultant so they can help spread the word. You never know who will help you snag your first gig!
Lay the groundwork for your business.
Being a successful consultant takes more than just being great at what you do: it takes business skills as well. How will you handle billing and expenses? Will you charge by the hour? By project? How will you cover insurance for yourself and your family? The time to answer these questions is now. Reach out to a financial advisor or an established consultant to see how they organized their business.
Understand your financial routine.
Because it’s common for consultants to get paid monthly, you’ll need a reserve of savings to last you those first several months while you’re lining up work and still while completing your first projects.
Take care of yourself! 9-5? Sick days? Vacation time? When you’re working for yourself, it’s all too easy to push yourself too hard. You need to be just as dedicated to your “off” time as you are to your work. Block off “me time” in advance — and stick to the plan!
Lastly, engage your confidence.
Ultimately, it would be best if you had more than experience, networking skills, and a solid business plan. Confidence in yourself and your decisions is vital. After all, you’ll be the expert everyone will look to, clients and project teams alike.
We asked out our team here at Oomple what competencies make a Great Freelance/Consultant. Here’s what they had to say.
Consulting is about problem-solving, and great consultants have insatiable curiosity in their DNA. They are continually thinking about what the real problem is (“what is the question”), what’s causing it and how best to crack it.
Structured Thinking and Communication.
This skill is fundamental to recommending and implementing. Structured communication is also essential—which is the ability to communicate succinctly and precisely.
Great professionals never stop learning and keep up to date with market conditions and trends. Keeping up with new trends and technology is imperative.
Good consultants adapt to new projects, work cultures and colleagues…easily!
Freelancers who work well in teams is one of the ingredients for a successful project. They put company goals and team spirit first.
Having a contingency plan is an integral part of consulting, but more so, is the ability to adapt mid-course and still deliver the expected results. They accept friction, unforeseen circumstances and even negative feedback and they learn from them, grow, and move on.
Then, there’s judgment. Sound judgment, combined with confident decision-making, will enable positive outcomes for your consulting projects.
If you’re a freelance professional, we’d love to hear your perspective! What advice would you give other consultants just starting out? You can also contact us directly here if you have any more questions.