Over the last few years, we've worked with thousands of the best independent consultants, from those just starting out to Partners at the highest levels. And we've found that the keys to success as an independent consultant are remarkably consistent. To help you on your path as an independent consultant, here are ten top tips from some of our best consultants.
1 - Don't be afraid to try it
Just because you try it doesn’t mean you can’t go back if it’s not for you. - Eli Diament
2 - Set aside a little nest egg
The first thing you must do is set aside a good portion of income to make sure you have something put away so you can enjoy the process of business-building, meeting people and doing the work. You need to have yourself well resourced because you are starting a business! The money is excellent in independent consulting, but it may take a few months for it to be regular. Set aside a good portion of income so that you can enjoy the breaks and enjoy the process of business-building, meeting people and doing rewarding work. - Libby Dummett
3 - Define your specialty
When you start on your own as an independent consultant, you have to define what you’re going to be known for. This doesn’t have to occur from the start, you can build this focus over a number of projects. Even if you start as a generalist, look to specialise in something and do it really well. - Sam Dean
4 - Manage your time and workflow
In the beginning I took on too many projects, I think partly because I didn’t want to turn down work, but also because I hadn’t quite worked out how busy I would be. In the past year, I’ve learned a lot about how to balance my workflow and manage my time. I still have deadlines to meet but I do have the flexibility to determine how many projects I’m working on and can decide my own downtime. - Marije Kleverlaan
5 - Take the time to develop your own brand
When you’re an independent consultant, you use similar skills as well as leverage the experience you had in a firm, but you also have to ensure you focus on building your own reputation. It’s really important that in the back of your mind you have an “I can do it, I will do it, it must succeed” mindset – because it’s your reputation on the line. In the end, you must always remember that consulting is a client service industry. - Eli Diament
6 - Be strict with yourself
To help ensure I meet my consulting commitments while also maximizing family time, I find it useful to stick to a schedule. In the morning, up until 7.30am it’s my family time and I make sure I’m home or finished work by 6.15pm. The rest of the evening is then spent playing with my daughter, making dinner and spending time with my partner. - Marco Boffi
7 - Take advantage of the slow times
One of the hardest things to get used to when first becoming independent is the downtime. You panic and get worried that you won’t find another project. Don’t! In the time I’ve been working independently I’ve seen that you definitely go through cycles and you do in fact create your own cycles, so don't be afraid if things get slow. Things pick up again so take advantage of those times and enjoy them. Use this time to focus on what’s coming next and taking a well-earned break. - Eli Diament
8 - Do it for the right reasons
If you’re going to go independent, you have to do it for the right reasons. You'll probably end up making more money but don't let that be the deciding factor. Do it because it cultivates something that you want in your life, whether that be greater flexibility, more autonomy or managing your own clients. Do it for one of those reasons, for me it was the variety and lifestyle. - Richard McKeon
9 - It’s what you make of it
The freedom you have as an independent consultant can be both challenging and rewarding, because you’re responsible for your own success. This responsibility and ownership is something that is to be embraced, and I find it one of the absolute joys of this experience. It gives me the freedom of choice, the ability to choose when and where I work and I’m now always able to make family commitments easily. And being solely responsible for clients is professionally, personally and financially very rewarding. - Emmalee Pepar
10 - If we can do it, so can you!
If being independent and working for yourself is what you want to do, then it’s up to you to make it happen. I think people sometimes let fear get in the way of giving it a go, but there’s many of us out there doing it, and if we can do it, so can you! - Marije Kleverlaan
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