So, you have a plan to strike out as an independent consultant. With network connections in place, a first consulting engagement lined up and partnerships explored, what could go wrong?
A major pitfall that some people forget when considering a move into consulting is the importance of getting their family involved in this decision. Without support at home, your success out in the field will be in jeopardy from the start.
I have seen this home-life tension damage many would-be great consultants. The sooner you get your family involved in the decision-making process, the better.
What we are going to explore here are the reasons you need to get your family or support system onboard with your move into consulting, and the best ways to explain your career decision to find support.
How to talk to your family about becoming an independent consultant
In under 2 minutes in this video, Matt Crabtree, founder of Positive Momentum, gives his advice.
Explaining your plan to get your first clients as an independent consultant
Your family will probably (and quite understandably) be worried about the initial transitional period. Your family may worry that a potentially reduced income or disrupted routine may affect them negatively.
Trust me, I have a plan!
Try and resist the urge to dismiss or wave away your family’s concerns. You might have the utmost confidence in yourself but don’t mistake this reticence for a lack of faith in you. Hear out their concerns and address them calmly and sensitively.
Explain your plan to them. You haven’t made this decision arbitrarily and you have already laid a foundation for a thriving consulting business. What’s more, explaining your plan to your family will help you to remind yourself of its viability.
The more detail the better
Don’t be shy with the details. The more vague you sound, the less it seems like you’ve thought this “whole consulting thing” through. Explain how you’ve already got your first prospects lined up, you’re playing the long game by making contacts on LinkedIn and have allotted time for meeting new people every week.
Explain how your network is strong and growing, and how you’ve already had positive responses from people you know and trust within it. Explain that when you deliver results to the clients you have lined up this will result in referrals later on down the road when people in their network see the value in you.
Tell them that you’re looking into joining a consulting partnership and how they can drastically improve your chances of getting off to a flying start with training, mentoring, administrative support and networking opportunities.
Show them that you already have your schedule mapped out and have dedicated time to growing your network and establishing your business.
The right time to go independent
Find out when the right time is to leave corporate life and and evaluate your readiness to start an independent consultancy.
Explain your plan for real job security through consulting
It’s possible that your family has bought into the fallacy that working for yourself is inherently less stable than working for a company. Explain to them that if anything, being an independent consultant offers more stability than staying where you were.
Independent consultants don’t need to worry about being made redundant or getting lost in the shuffle when your department is restructured. They are insulated from nepotism and office politics gone awry.
As an independent consultant, you will get to take your job security into your own hands. As your personal reputation grows and everyone in your network realises the value in your services, your job security is consolidated.
And more and more lucrative opportunities will come your way. There are no guarantees in the world of independent consulting… But it’s a mistake to assume that there are any more in salaried work.
Explain what you’re already doing to secure your reputation and future prospects. Mention the thought leadership articles you’re publishing on LinkedIn and the enthusiastic responses you’ve had from prospective clients within your network. Remind them that people who know you well professionally are already excited for you to get started.
So long as you maintain your network, make use of the support and training that’s available to you, and keep building value in your personal brand by consistently getting great results, there’s no reason to suspect that job security will be an issue.
Emphasise your work/life balance
The corporate world has been good to you. It has given you the opportunities and rewards that got you where you are today… But your diligence and ambition have come at the cost of your work/life balance.
You may have missed out on important events that friends and family expected you at, and you’ll never get that time back. Your family may worry that your new endeavour will result in even less time to maintain a healthy work/life balance. However, in truth, it can alleviate it. Although they have a lot of plates to spin, independent consultants have complete autonomy over their schedule. This means they can always make time for the things in life that really matter. Initially, it may take time to find this balance, but once your business is established, you will have more freedom to choose when you work.
Being an independent consultant can not only make you happier professionally, but it can also allow you to be more present with your family and friends.
Why you need the support of your family to become a consultant
You’ve thought long and hard before making this decision. You’ve weighed the pros and cons and established conclusively that it’s the right decision for you…
So does it really matter whether or not your family and friends are on board?
I would argue that it does, for a variety of reasons. Starting down this path without the support of the people closest to you can be done, but it’s rarely a formula for job satisfaction or operational excellence.
Starting any business is a challenge. When you run your own consulting firm, you have a broad and diverse range of responsibilities. Maintaining focus, mental clarity and enthusiasm is absolutely essential.
If you’re worried about growing family discord or putting out interpersonal fires at home, this will inevitably damage your ability to concentrate on the all-important strategic decisions which can make or break your business. This is why you want to ensure that this decision is one that has the backing from your support system.
Your family may be slow to warm to the idea of your becoming an independent consultant. They may even be hostile to it at first. But that’s just human nature. People fear the unknown. Take the time to explain your reasons, methodology and the perks of being an independent consultant and they’ll come around sooner or later.