In 2015 I made a decision that would change my life. I decided to start my own consulting business. For years I worked in IT as an employee of various companies, including a large consulting firm. I always wanted to go out on my own, but I was afraid. I was afraid of losing “job security”.
The risk of taking the leap and then not being able to pay the bills was real, and it still is. After time, I concluded the risk was greater if I didn’t go out on my own. I figured the worst that could happen is it doesn’t work out and go back to being an employee.
Once my mind was set, I read all the books I could about starting a consulting business. When I drove to work, I listened to audio books by consulting gurus like Alan Weiss and Peter Block. I also studied content marketing. I learned about the power of social media and blogging.
Being a project manager, I treated starting my own consulting business as I would any project. I created a plan with tasks, costs, milestones and dependencies.
Little by little I began to complete the tasks in my plan. From naming my business and creating a website, to forming a corporation, I did it all. I did it in my spare time while still working as an employee.
I also reached out to everyone I knew who could give me advice. I have a great network of friends in business and their guidance was invaluable. Each time I met with someone for coffee, another piece of a puzzle came together. I always left the conversation with notes and more contacts to reach out to. I still meet people, some who I meet through blogging or LinkedIn, for coffee all the time.
It’s been a little over a year now that I’ve been working for my own consulting business and I’m so glad I did it.
Here are the 5 reasons why I started my own consulting business:
1 – There’s tremendous opportunity– Times have changed. Gone are the days when you would get a job right out of college and stay with the company until retirement. The advance of technology and globalization has changed the workforce landscape. Today it’s quite common for people to change companies around every 3 years. Opportunity surrounds us, and employees are smart enough to take advantage of it. People won’t stick around if they’re unfulfilled in their current job.
In consulting, especially IT consulting, there is no shortage of work. Technology is no longer this separate area of companies where geeks work in a silo. Business and technology skills are necessities of everyone today. There are IT projects galore!
If you have trouble finding direct client work, do not fear. There’s plenty of opportunity to work in a sub-contract Corp to Corp setup. If you land direct client business, you can bring on sub-contractors yourself. The opportunities are exciting!
2 – The pay is good– Consultants get paid well. They provide value by offering expertise that companies don’t have in house. If companies had the talent, they wouldn’t need a consultant. Companies will gladly pay top dollar if you can solve their problem.
If you work as an employee for a large consulting firm, you typically receive a small amount of your client billing rate. Large consulting companies rely on what’s called leverage to increase their bottom line.
Leverage enables consulting firms to make big margins off junior consultants. The money then flows up to the partners. Large consultancies actually depend on junior level consultants leaving the firm. This is necessary so a fresh crop of junior consultants can come in to continue the leverage.
To understand the business model of consulting companies, read “managing the professional service firm” by David Maister. If you’re committed to staying with a large firm, get ready for a game of thrones like culture to move up the ladder. You are competing with thousands of top notch consultants like yourself.
3 – The barrier to entry is low– Unlike most startups, you don’t need a lot of dough to start a consulting business. Aside from legal setup, getting a website and some other expenses, it’s easy to get up and running. Using the power of your network, blogging and social media, you can get the word out at no cost.
4 – I love being my own boss – Not reporting to a manager is a beautiful thing. So is forgetting about performance reviews, arbitrary goals, and administrative BS. I show up, do a good job, and get paid, that’s it! Also if I want to take some time off between contracts, I can do that. I’m my own boss.
5 – I don’t want regrets – This is the biggest reason I started a consulting business. I never want to look back one day and say, I wish I tried. I can accept trying and failing, but I can’t accept is not having enough courage to try.
Summary – If you are debating going out on your own, go for it. Put in the time to learn what it takes, and continue sharpening your skills. Once you make the leap, start blogging and using social media to get the word out there. It’s fun! Remember, we only live once. Don’t look back some day with regrets!
For me, I don’t know what the future has in store, but I know it’s going to be a wild ride. I have a feeling this journey has just begun.
About the Author: Mike MacIsaac is the owner and principal consultant for MacIsaac Consulting. Mike provides leadership as an IT Project and Program Manager as well as an Agile Scrum Master. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeMacIsaac or subscribe to Mike’s blog.