Either you’re an employee, or you’re an independent consultant, right? Not necessarily.
You can be an ‘internal’ independent consultant. That is, independent consulting as an employee. It’s about staying true to your values and your direction. As long as you can do that, there’s no reason you can’t do it as an employee.
Note: This post is *not* about the legal definition of a contractor vs an employee, which is far more complex than it should be. For information about that, start here (for my Australian readers).
Independent Consulting is Great, but Employment Can Be Too
For some, the idea of independent consulting is appealing (flexible work arrangements, variety of work, getting paid for your output – not your time), but the reality of having to manage the business side of things (sales and marketing, contracts, invoicing, cash-flow management) is not so appealing.
So is it possible to get the best of both worlds? Yes it is! I know, because I’ve done it. In fact, I’m doing it (at the time of writing this post).
What does that look like? It’s an employee role where you effectively work as an independent consultant – essentially a permanent contract.
And it is currently the perfect role for me. It pays well (albeit less than contracting), with full benefits, but also – and most important for me – with full autonomy, and challenging work that precisely aligns with what I want to be doing. Meaning I get to work how I want to, on interesting projects, with the benefits of a permanent employee.
How To Have the Best of Both Worlds
Now the stars didn’t just magically align for me. My experience and my network played a huge part. When interviewing for the role, I made it clear how I work, but also clear that I would exceed what was expected of me. And my employer and I were happy to proceed on that basis.
If it didn’t work (or stops working) for me, I wouldn’t do it. I could be made redundant, or choose to leave, at any time – and that doesn’t worry me at all. It would be just like any other contract ending, and I would find another.
How easy or difficult it would be for you to find a similar opportunity will depend on many things, like your area of expertise, your level of experience, your network, the state of the market, and so on. But if this idea appeals to you, start looking for that role or work towards it.