Becoming an Independent Consultant
Julie Crawford spent 7 years at Accenture focusing primarily on Strategy, CRM and Process improvement projects within the travel industry. She went on to work for Carlson Wagonlit Travel for a further 7 years leading the EMEA Hotel Sourcing Group and UK Meetings and Events.
In this article, she will go over the 10 things that should be considered when starting the journey as an independent consultant – giving some insights and recommendations to help prepare for a successful career in consulting.
Thinking of becoming an independent consultant? Here’s what you need to know and some of the questions we often get asked….
Becoming an independent consultant is an attractive career path and one which B2E would thoroughly recommend for the inherent flexibility, variety and growth potential/rewards, but there are a few things to consider before you take the plunge:
- Have a plan: It is important to have a clear plan of what you want to achieve and how you will get there. What area do you want to specialise in? What are your strengths in consulting and what transferable skills do you have?
- Build your network: Your network is one of your most valuable assets as an independent consultant. Make sure to establish relationships with potential clients and contacts in your industry. Use LinkedIn to build this network as well as catching up with clients and contacts by phone and face to face. Consider attending industry conferences.
- Set goals: Set short-term, intermediate, and long-term goals to stay on track. Keep up with training and certifications that are important in your consulting specialism e.g. Prince2 for Project Management.
- Get organised: Develop a system to keep track of contracts, invoices, contacts, and other important paperwork.
- Have an online presence: Develop an online profile to establish yourself as an independent consultant. LinkedIn can be a simple solution for this. Make sure your profile is set to “#Opentowork” when you are looking for your next role. You may also want to consider setting up a website.
- Determine your rates: Do your research and figure out a rate that is fair for both you and your clients. If you are coming from a permanent role, we can help you work out what rate range you should expect.
- Understand your taxes: Make sure you understand the rules and regulations for taxes for independent consultants – specifically the rules around Inside and Outside IR35 and the additional costs when working Inside. If you are flexible and open to considering both you will have a much greater choice of projects. If moving onto an Outside IR35 role you will need to set up a limited company (or use an umbrella company) – but this is very straightforward.
- Brand yourself: Have a consistent look, feel, and message that reflects your brand. This should be displayed through your CV but also on your Linked In profile and your website if you have one.
- Manage your time: Time management is key to success as an independent consultant. There will be times when you are between projects and looking for your next opportunity. It is important to make the most of these periods to reflect, rest but also plan ahead and ensure your next engagement is not too long away.
- Set boundaries: Make sure to set boundaries in terms of what projects you take on, how many clients you work with, and how much workload you are willing to take on. Most of our consultants work full-time on their projects so this is less of an issue but it’s important to manage your career direction through the projects you choose.
These are the top 10 things that we think you should consider before becoming an independent consultant. Doing plenty of preparation and research beforehand on your particular area within consulting will ensure you have a successful journey towards reaching your goals and an exciting independent consulting career!
If you would like to register to become part of our B2E community of consultants please visit www.b2econsulting.com
Client Partner – B2E Consulting