Go independent

October 14, 2016 Dorothy Mead

You may have already decided that the 9-5 isn’t for you, and let’s face it if you’re from the world of consultancy you’ve thought it’s been an easy day if it was 9-9. You may want to pursue your own enterprise, or you may just want to bring in your individual expertise to a specific clients, rather than becoming a generalist.

Whatever your motivation for going independent, and joining the anticipated 1 million senior execs who will be heading in that direction by 2020, we’ve some enticing reasons to come to the home of independent business talent at Talmix.

  1. Discover new opportunities. One of the biggest concerns for people as they go independent is how they will find new business. After all, if you’ve come from a large consultancy background, you have probably been involved in bids and pitches, but not had to uncover the client opportunity yourself. That changes. And it can be daunting. At Talmix it’s our job to find project opportunities from our global client base and you simply have to select and apply to those that you think you can fulfil. We’re not promising that we can keep you working every day of the year, but it’s a great start point as you go independent. 
  2. Help with winning projects. Although the Talmix process is powered by technology, we believe that people help you along the way. Our team can help you with your proposal, work on how to make your profile more appealing to clients and your interview techniques. When a client is trying to fill a project role the conversation is often very different from a traditional interview for a full-time position and we help prepare you for this focused conversation. 
  3. Know your worth. Companies want to use independent consultants for their fresh insight, their specific skillsets on often complex and niche areas and also because they want the agility that working with an independent can bring, compared to engaging with a large firm. Part of that also sees them recognise cost savings by working directly with the consultant. However, that doesn’t mean that you should undersell yourself in order to win business.  So how do you go about setting that rate? It’s a combination of your previous charge rates, factored to remove the markup that your employers would have loaded, plus your specific knowledge and functional expertise. You may charge a different rate for a standard market assessment compared to a rate assessing an industry that you have senior-level experience in. Short answer – be realistic, offer value to clients, but don’t undersell either. On a platform like Talmix clients will set a budget to begin with and you may modify your standard rate because a project appeals.
  4. Decide on your work load. Many consultants choose independent working because they don’t want to work a 5 day week for 48 weeks of the year. Whether it’s family commitments, desire to set up your own business, or just wanting some downtime, it’s important that you set your framework. And then don’t apply for projects that don’t match this. If you’ve decided you want to be at home more, applying for a 3-month onsite project may not see you getting the most out of independence.
  5. Create a new network. Being part of a 25,000+ community at Talmix gives you the opportunity to network with other independent consultants, and form loose alliances to help you win business. You can also refer other independents you know into the network and start building your presence out there. 
  6. Take control. Remember when you were sent to that remote fuel processing plant? For six months? When you knew every item on the hotel menu and had eaten it at least seven times? When you go independent, you’re choosing which projects to work on. You can even choose your own hotel. More importantly you’re controlling your skills and expertise and delivering the best results to clients, because you’re working on what you want to do.  
  7. Build your own brand. Many consultants we talk to confess that a lot of the work they have undertaken has been about ensuring the ongoing engagement and success of the firm they work for. Personal reputation is only a small piece of the overall assignment: the client has bought the brand not the individual. When you are independent this is about you: you have the opportunity to show your worth, your knowledge and your value to clients. It’s a little more challenging as there’s no buffer, but the rewards are greater and your cv grows significantly. 
  8. Bring more to a client. Let’s use one of our consultants to explain why the service an independent consultant is different. “When working as an independent consultant, it is much easier to take a step back and look at what is effectively good for the client and for the industry as a whole, and to detach oneself from considerations such as career and one’s company’s reputation management.” This is why clients like working with independent consultants: the only agenda is in getting a great project delivered. It’s also an opportunity to use your major expertise and not become a generalist: clients like detailed sector and functional knowledge and know that independents are more likely to bring this. 
  9. Work-life balance. All these contribute to one of the major reasons consultants choose to work independently. The ability to choose projects, locations, working hours and still grow your reputation means that your life can start to return and not be all about work. It’s up to you – that’s what balance is. As Fabian says “Being an independent consultant was a perfect lifestyle choice, after our daughter was born. I got the opportunity to tackle a wide range of different projects, whilst having the chance to spend more time with my family.” 
  10. Follow your dreams. It’s not always about building the independent career: it can be about doing the thing that your traditional working life has prevented. Let’s hear from some of our consultants:  “Being an independent consultant gives me the ability to be selective with the projects I take on, flexibility, and being entrepreneurial” - Gareth enjoys taking on big challenges! He’s raised over £10,000 by completing high profile endurance challenges including swimming the English Channel, running the Marathon des Sables, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, and attempting to break the world record for the fastest row across the Atlantic Ocean. 

“My family and I love to travel and recently moved to the South of Spain to immerse ourselves in the culture and learn Spanish. I decided to become a freelance consultant so that I could work from anywhere and indulge my love of travel. I also wanted more control over the types of projects that I take on and an opportunity to develop my entrepreneurial side.”

“After meeting my future wife (Oxford PhD, ex-McKinsey and part of Talmix) at BCG in London, we wanted to work remotely and independently on consulting projects, while at the same time, working on an online running business and promoting the publication of my nonfiction book after its crowdfunded launch."

About the Author

Dorothy Mead

Dorothy is a technology marketing veteran who is responsible for building the Talmix brand globally and creating digital programmes to engage and retain our audiences.

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