More than 41 million Americans work independently as consultants, freelancers, independent contractors, gig workers, and more. If you’re working independently and are thinking of pursuing your endeavor fulltime, you’re not alone. Full-time self-employment continues to be a viable and attractive option for many professionals, especially those with in-demand skills.
Any career change marks a major moment, but the decision to transition from employee to independent professional is perhaps one of the most significant life shifts you can experience. Striking out on your own is attractive for many reasons: you can be your own boss, work when and where you like, own your financial destiny, and pursue work you are passionate about.
But running your own business comes with a whole new set of challenges that you may not have considered. So, how do you know if you’re ready to go solo? Read on, or jump straight to our quiz.
How to Start a Successful Consulting Business
1. Pinpoint Your Sellable Talent
Take some time to think about your background and expertise. What skills do you have that people need? What sort of services could you provide to clients that would solve a problem they have? Identifying the skills or services you want to offer as an independent is an important first step in going out on your own. Make sure that there’s a demand in the market for your services and expertise and, even more importantly, make sure that what you want to offer is something you are truly interested in and passionate about.
2. Hone Tenaciously and Resiliency
Running your own business is no small task. Much of what you do each day won’t necessarily be centered around client work. As an independent, it is up to you to prepare contracts, manage and pay taxes, organize benefits and insurance, track expenses, and remain compliant with federal, state, and local laws. Sometimes, it may take weeks for a contract to be signed, or there may be a lull in work. Independence comes with a certain mindset; you have to have the fortitude to keep moving forward when you encounter a hurdle or don’t immediately see benefits of your hard work.
3. Find Confidence
In order to land new clients and get the projects you want, you’ll need to market your services. And, since you are your business, that means getting good at selling yourself. Having confidence in your skills and abilities will help you articulate what you do, why you are good at it, and why someone should engage your services.
4. Prepare to Network
As an independent, your network is an important source of ongoing work. By networking, you can meet people in your industry, connect with potential clients, and spread the name of your business. And networking doesn’t just mean attending events. Working closely with a trusted colleague or industry expert, blogging about your expertise, or connecting with key people on social networking sites are all great ways to start building a reliable base of contacts.
5. Acknowledge Both the Risks and the Rewards
Financial readiness is a big component of transitioning to independence. While employees can rely on a steady paycheck and other benefits such as health insurance and retirement options, as an independent it’s up to you to determine your bill rate and secure the benefits you need. Understanding and budgeting for business expenses and cash flow is important to ensure you get started on the right foot.
While the details involved in running your own business may seem overwhelming at first, with the right preparation you can find success. Freedom, flexibility, and a greater control over work-life balance are just some of the many benefits of self-employment, and there has never been a better time to consider making the leap to independence.
See for yourself: Complete our quiz to determine if self-employment is the right choice for you.
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