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Independent Consulting - opinions?

 
#1 Independent Consulting - opinions?
12/03/2006 17:39

S.P.

Hi - I'd like to pick up some opinions on independent consulting i.e. as a self-employed agent rather than as an employee or part of a partnership.

I've heard various views - do any of these ring true/false for anyone out there?

1) Better work/life balance as you pick and choose when you work. Is this true, or do you end up with less control of your time because you don't have the weight on your own to negotiate with the client over the project specification?

2) Less respect from clients. I know a lot of people go independent because of various skeletons in the closet that keep them from being in the spotlight at the front of a major company. Do clients tar all independents with this brush though?

3) Only if you have grey hair/are semi-retired. I have not met many people below 50 in independent consulting, but is this related to the point about work/life balance, or is there a particular group of people suited to independent consultant who just coincidentally are around that age.

4) You only get work from your buddies in the industry. Because it's nigh-impossible to genuinely compete and generate business on your own, you are you reliant on whatever scraps of work your friends/family/old boys network pass you under the table?

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#2 Re: Independent Consulting - opinions?
12/03/2006 20:34

independent

I think a lot depends on your skills, background and network. However I am happy to share my personal experience:

1) Better work/life balance in some ways. When on a project you may still be in a hotel all week working long hours.

In between projects you will have "free" time. You cannot guarantee this will be in August. It is not always relaxing to have no income and much of the free time will be spent marketing.

2) Not true in my view.

3) Sadly the older you are the harder it is to secure permanent employment. Many of those making the "choice" to become consultants do not have the permanent alternative available.

4) Research on "top consultant" suggests agencies generate more work than personal contacts. However the people I know get most work through their network. That said if you can earn a six figure salary then is "scraps" the right word?

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#3 Re: Independent Consulting - opinions?
16/03/2006 16:41

Indy

Good questions and feedback - I guess I'll learn the real answers soo. Been independent after 15 years blue chip 'proper jobs.'

Earning more money than ever before and feeling real satisfaction in what I do. Biggest change for me is Boards of Dirctors listening to me and doing something about it! Honestly don't see it as sustainable to retirement (I'm 37) but having a blast now.

As far as I'm concerned, when it falls over I'll get another 'proper job!'

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#4 Re: Independent Consulting - opinions?
16/03/2006 16:57

Beth

As a big 4 consultant who has encountered a number of independent consultants in recent projects, he's my contribution for what its worth:

Work/Life- all the independents I have met have had a partner in a 'proper' job, offering some sort of security the mortgage will get paid. All have complained that they get'stuck' in assignments as they don't have the option of swopping off as you do in a big firm.

Respect.... Sometimes you find a senior exec that has gone independant, knows everyone in the industry, really has seen and done it all- they get lots of respect from everyone and do make a fortune. Occasionally you find someone relatively young and dynamic who is making waves on their own in a niche area- usually in marketing, comms etc. Usually, independents are middle managers who got made redundant and couldn't get back into the job market, and clients buy them because they are cheap and can do something specific e.g. SLAs for public sector TUPE, mapping IT networks for an outsourcing contract. Consultants from big firms are often brought in to manage them or oversee a process, and I'm afraid our response on discovering we have to manage an independent is often to groan and prepare to add to our list of amusing assignment related anecdotes about difficult people.

Good luck, and whatever you do, never hold a conversation with a big firm consultant that includes the phrase'I never wanted to work for one of the big firms'- it may be true, but we, and clients hear 'I couldn't get your job'...

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