Much like anything we try for the first time, there are plenty of different emotions associated with stepping out of our comfort zones and facing change. Becoming an independent consultant is no different. With work structures shifting at a rapid pace, there is an increasing opportunity to make lifestyle changes and embrace the gig economy to excel in the areas you not only enjoy but are great at too. While there’s no universal process to follow when making the leap, there are many important tips to consider that are specific to you and your particular situation in order to ensure a successful transition.
In part I, we talked about the several areas to know and consider when making the jump to become an independent consultant. Keep reading below as we take a deeper dive into tips, tricks and best practices when actually beginning your journey.
Before we dive in, let’s talk about the business details for a minute. When setting up a business entity, there are several things to think about. For example, what insurance makes the most sense for you? How long might it take to obtain a business license? What will finances look like for each of these areas? Pro tip: set up your business entity while you are still employed full-time (if possible). This will make the leap much smoother and allow you more time to prepare before you’re on your own versus doing everything at once.
Get to know yourself.
Taking the time to understand yourself, how you work, how you stay motivated, just to name a few, are key during this journey. Taking the time for self-discovery and learning during the early stages will also save a lot of time and can help you avoid potential mistakes or stress further down the road. Keep in mind that getting to know yourself is easier said than done and can be a difficult first step. When looking for direction or inspiration, it’s not uncommon to compare ourselves to others, thinking what may have worked for them will work for us. One way to avoid doing this is to make a list of your strengths and areas of opportunity in both your personal and professional life. Maybe you’re someone who is very detail-oriented, and you produce quality work for clients but tend to put a lot of pressure on yourself and get overwhelmed easily. If this sounds like you, then think about these areas in a specific scenario and think through what you can do or implement in order to prioritize effectively for yourself and your clients.
There are also many amazing online quizzes and questionnaires that can help provide a lot of insight about your strengths or limitations to establish a clear outline of what you’re currently doing and where you may need to improve. While this can be an uncomfortable process, it’s one of the best ways to invest in yourself and will positively impact your future in more ways than one. After all, this is your journey.
Establish your brand and market yourself
Successfully establishing your brand and how to market yourself is a critical component to this journey. As an independent consultant, it’s important to understand that marketing yourself and your business go hand in hand; they’re interconnected. This may seem like an obvious statement, but it can be easy to lose sight of this concept even if it is unintentional. First, think about how you will position yourself (and get specific!). Identify your niche and determine how you can stand out as an expert based on the gaps that exist in your specific field. Then, think about how to market to your target audience. Some examples include:
- Notifying your peers via email or social media and asking them to pass along the news.
- Partnering with an external person or company to help with branding, logos, setting up a website, etc.
- Writing and sharing blogs about your journey, your business, and what problems you help solve. Educating readers is a great way to establish yourself in your space.
- Network, network, network!
Utilize external resources
Once you’re clear about your niche, what your focus is and how to get there, start looking into tools and resources to help with your success. We briefly mentioned networking above, but this really is one of the most important resources you can leverage. If you have peers that recently made the leap, speak with them about their experience and what they have learned. This also opens up the door to make other connections and expand your own circle. Another great way to expand your knowledge is by attending seminars, conferences and joining groups or even consulting platforms. This is not only a great way to continue getting your name out there, but it’s also a great way to embrace a learning mindset that will help improve your success on your journey. Not to mention, many of these resources are available at no cost.
Lastly, consider looking into coaching sessions for professional development. Often times as we learn to navigate in unfamiliar areas, it can be difficult to take a step back and evaluate the best course of action. Coaches are a great option to help support you on your journey while also helping to build new competencies and tools to better support your success. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help and guidance.
While everyone’s transition will look different, it’s important to be as prepared as possible especially in the early stages. In our next and final blog of this series, we will be discussing how to stay committed and successful after making the leap.
At Gig Talent, our goal is to support those stepping out of their comfort zone and making the leap to independent consulting. We act as your sales and marketing division, helping eliminate the uncertainty of running a business on your own. We also prioritize community, so you feel fully supported to do the work you know and love. If you’re interested in becoming a GigTalent Certified Consultant and/or if you know of any amazing HR Consultants and Coaches, we’re always looking to expand our collective. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.