She waltzes in flashing a million dollar grin like she doesn’t have a care in the world. She sits in on a couple of meetings, makes a few suggestion, then waltzes out with a fat check to do who knows what, because she’s a consultant. No answering to a clock, or dealing with interoffice politics. Life is easy.
The Reality Behind Working For Yourself As a Consultant
There is a lot of romanticizing that takes place around consultants, entrepreneurs and other independent business types. Behind the scenes, the life of a solopreneur, is equal parts hard work and reward, and sometimes the reward doesn’t come until you’ve done a whole lot of the hard work part. Here are some myths we tell.
Myth #1 – Working for yourself is easy!
While it may seem that not having a boss is a breeze, many who have never done it fail to realize, you are the boss and you still have to do your job too! It’s a tough gig and not for the faint of heart.
- You have to be accountable to yourself to maintain a schedule and stay on track with tasks.
- There is no passing the buck. You are responsible, period, every time.
- You can reap tremendous rewards, but when things go bad, you pay the bills.
Myth #2 – Sales and business development are automatic.
If you are good at what you do, the leads just fall from the sky and sales happen, right? Wrong. Word of Mouth is great, when you get it, but often you have to ask for it. And that business plan is all you, no one else will mind those goals.
- You manage prospecting, appointment setting, potential client research and the pitch. When sales are flat, it’s all you.
- No one lobs you softball leads for you to close. If the pipeline runs dry, you have to go find new leads yourself, and develop them.
- When third quarter sales are not what you projected, you can’t explain it away and go home for the day, that “bonus” is now funding your retirement.
- Business plans are simply that. If you fail to take action on your plan of action there will be no action.
Myth #3 – Entrepreneurs work a lighter schedule
Two hour lunches and golf at three are nice ideas, but especially in the beginning, they may have to wait. Make no mistake, you will work harder. You have to. You are responsible for everything, start to finish.
- You may bill 40 hours, but that doesn’t include prep and marketing time.
- There is always something left to do at the end of every day. Set boundaries to prevent overworking yourself.
- In addition to current work, you have to continually plan and prepare for your future success to keep growing.
Myth #4 – Entrepreneurs have all the luck
As the old saying goes, luck favors the prepared and when it comes to entrepreneurship, luck is the smallest factor in success.
- You may have to improvise and do a bit of acting to even convince yourself sometimes and you’d better have skills to back it up.
- Hard work and being willing to learn new tricks will beat luck every time. Luck is fickle which doesn’t win much repeat business.
- Persistence and perseverance are the hallmark of every successful solopreneur, not luck.
Myth #5 – You need to have a big idea!
This myth is the one that keeps a lot of good people tied to a desk working for someone else when they should be branching out on their own. Big ideas are great, but you can find success with simplicity.
- In consulting, all you need is a solution to a problem in an industry that is not common knowledge. People pay for solutions.
- Quality service at a fair price that is provided consistently and on time will keep you busy as a freelancer. You don’t even have to be the best or the cheapest.
- Know your clients and their needs and be willing to supply the solution. If you are the first, or the most convincing, they’ll hire you.
I hope none of this has been discouraging. It wasn’t meant to be. But, with so many solopreneurs heading back into the workforce due to unrealistic expectations, or failing to prepare, it’s important we learn to see this thing for what it is, one heck of an opportunity with a whole lot of work attached to it.