In 2013, a Harvard Business Review article mentioned the rise of independent consultants as a possible disruption in the consulting industry. The benefits brought on by these high-skilled individuals or small groups of consultants continue to attract clients. In turn, these changes push the industry and the big firms to catch up to the changing game. Aside from getting attention from clients, the allure of becoming an independent consultant also attracts experienced professionals into making the career change. Read on to learn how professionals can turn their skills into their own practice by becoming independent consultants.
Should You Take on the Path of Independent Consulting?
Many surveys conducted on traditional and independent consultants tell us a variety of things about why more professionals take on the path of independent consulting. For instance, a survey McCallum’s reveals that two-thirds of more than 300 consultants asked in 2018 plan to remain independent for the next three years.
The motivations that push professionals towards independent consulting depend on what they prioritize for their personal and professional lives. Consultants from traditional firms are likely to value financial security and a stable career pattern. Meanwhile, professionals who prioritize work-life balance and control over projects they take fit the role of independent consultants.
Direct engagement also serves as a motivator for independent consulting. With control over their work and time flexibility, independent consultants freely focus on the intellectual challenge of the work they take instead of other traditional matters like film politics. With this, independent consulting attracts professionals looking for job satisfaction and who like to feel their impact on working with the client and the industry.
Why Clients Hire Independent Consultants
Clients hire independent consultants for a variety of reasons. It could be to save money on the packages and overhead costs from traditional firms. It could also be to get direct engagement from specialized experts who practice independent consulting. After all, independent consultants tend to be experts on specific topics who have decided to venture out of big firms to specialize in it. In the same survey by McCallum, the average professional experience of participants surveyed landed at 26 years of experience. Apparently, high-skill professionals face the fork in the road around this age when they decide which career outcomes they value and take on the challenge of a career change.
Additionally, while most independent consultants already put in years in the industry, the benefits of this career path still attract professionals under 40, especially millennials and women. Read on the pros and cons of becoming an independent consultant to learn more.
Benefits of Having an Independent Practice
As mentioned before, the benefits of becoming an independent consultant rely on the priorities you set for your career path and personal life. These are some of the benefits that come with independent consulting.
- Control over the work you do. Many high-skilled professionals that choose to go independent after a decade or two in traditional firms specialize in the fields they intend to focus on. This shows how independent consulting offers you free reign in the work and challenges you want to take on.
- Healthy work-life balance. Time flexibility and ideal office location also rank high in the motivators for going independent. This could mean more time to focus on your personal life, such as family, hobbies and interests, and other projects.
- Sole focus on getting the job done. Independent consulting allows you to focus on the work without the old matters. Say goodbye to impending evaluation, organizational hurdles, and office politics.
- Choosing how you earn. Once you establish credibility for your practice, you can bill projects the way you wish to. For this reason, independent consultants with solid credibility among their network do not earn any less than their peers from traditional firms.
- High satisfaction. Getting to choose your work and letting yourself immerse in the challenge intellectually allows you to see the impact you make. In turn, this makes you feel high satisfaction with every job done.
Challenges of Independent Consulting
On the other hand, the path of independent consulting still comes with hurdles that you need to be ready to take on. These are some of the cons you need to prepare for.
- Security and stability. The allure with traditional firms, especially the big brands, is always having a company to fall back on at low times. Working on a big firm also lays out all the career patterns available to you.
- Collaboration. Another thing you might miss as an independent consultant is working with many professionals to learn skills and industry tips.
- Building credibility or smaller network. To establish a practice successfully in any industry, building your network of clients that see you as credible is always a challenge.
Indeed, financial security and stability are some things that only get remedied as you build your practice. However, planting the seeds early can fix the lack of an established network early with collaboration. Learn how to expand your network as an independent consultant.
Expanding Your Network as an Independent Consultant
Whether or not you’re still undecided about becoming an independent consultant, it never hurts to start building your professional brand. This comes in many forms depending on your current role. For example, you can speak at conferences or get colleagues to recommend you to their circle. You can also start learning how to kickstart your own business and sustain it.
Another way to achieve this is to join a network of skilled independent consultants. Independent consulting firms like Damalion give you an environment with a network of contacts that introduce you to potential clients. Working with Damalion also lets you co-work with skilled professionals and access its resources. Moreover, this path does not take away your choice in taking projects you like to work on. You also retain the time flexibility you need for a balanced life. Aside from this option, you could also look into marketplaces for freelance experts and independent consultants.
Has this cleared up some misconceptions and doubts you had about becoming an independent consultant? If you are ready to explore joining a group of skilled professionals, click here to join our talent pool!