Independent consulting (also known as “freelancing”) is the dream. You get freedom, fulfilment, and you’re well paid. In fact, about half of all independent consultants say that there is no amount of money that would get them to stop freelancing and take a 9-to-5 job instead!
The good news is that just about anyone can become an independent consultant – but that doesn’t mean they should. There are a few character traits that are useful to have if you’re considering consulting as a career:
- You enjoy working with people
- You like networking
- You’re organised and (at least fairly) disciplined
- And you need to be knowledgeable about the subject you’re consulting in
(some experience doesn’t hurt either)
It’s tempting, especially when starting out, to take any work you can get, but in the long run, it helps to specialise. It helps you identify your ideal clients, and it helps potential clients find you easier. The more clear you are about exactly the specific service you provide, the better. You can then reinforce that message in all your communications and branding, and if you are good at what you do, you’ll get a reputation for being the expert in that field. What’s even better is if you can find a gap or a real need in your niche.
Once you’re clear on your niche, define your offering. You should be able to express it simply, as in: “I help xxx to yyy by zzz“.
Mine is: “I help professionals to quit their jobs and become independent consultants by providing resources and guiding them through the process”.
Register your business name (it can just be your name), obtain an ABN (in Australia), and set up a separate bank account for your business. It makes it much easier to track your financials. You will also want to set your rates at this point. Ideally, you will charge by the project, but in many cases you will need to provide an hourly or daily rate. Do some research to find out what the average rate is for your profession/industry.
Then register your domain name (same as your business name), with a business email address, and get a website. Also set up social media profiles on the platforms you intend to use for your business.
Start Finding Clients
Start networking. Attend (relevant) events, join professional groups (both online and offline), and start getting your name out there. Get active on social media.
If you haven’t already done so, sharpen your skills – not just in your area of expertise, but also in areas like project management, communication, and presentation skills. There are plenty of free (and paid) courses and videos available online. And you can do them at your pace, and at any time.
You’re an Independent Consultant
I’ve only skimmed the surface in this post, but with time and effort, that’s all you need to start freelancing. I started with absolutely nothing (no financial buffer, no network, and no plan), but I did what I had to do to make it happen. The first couple of years were a tough slog for sure, but it was worth it.
If you want to avoid some of that pain, and get there faster, it helps to learn from someone who has done it – and helped many others to do it. I can definitely help you there. Contact me if you would like to discuss your options.