Becoming an independent contractor may sound great, but perhaps you don’t feel ready just quite yet. Being confident in your decision is important, and luckily there’s a lot you can do to prepare for self-employment so you feel completely informed in your choice.
Building a strong networking base, preparing financially, and establishing the unique services you bring to the table will help ensure you begin your independent career ahead of the game. Follow these five steps to set yourself up for success.
1. Make Sure Independent Consulting Really is Right for You
Self-employment offers many perks including the ability to be your own boss, control your own schedule, and do what you love. However, successfully managing your own business venture does require dedication, passion, and hard work. Make sure that independent consulting is the right path for you before deciding how to proceed and prepare.
2. Build Your Network
Networking to grow your business is one of the most effective ways to get a pipeline of clients in place before you start work. Honing both your networking and skills as well as your elevator pitch is helpful to build confidence, practice speaking about your services, and get advice from other industry professionals.
Consider attending networking events in your industry to learn about the latest trends and to learn about what other consultants are doing and offering. Finding a mentor is another way to obtain valuable business-related guidance and advice. A mentor can be especially valuable when you’re first starting out because they can speak from experience, and provide recommendations on the steps you need to take to start your business.
3. Show off Your Skills on Social Media
Creating a social media presence is helpful to stay in touch with your network, establish yourself as a trusted authority within your industry, and market your future business. Use LinkedIn as a virtual resume and as a platform to network with people you are interested in working with. Twitter and Facebook can also be used to maintain professional relationships and share interesting articles.
Blogging is another way to showcase your knowledge. Starting a blog may be helpful to practice writing about topics you are considering centering your services around. Blogs can be used to educate and engage a target audience and can even lead to connections and future work.
4. Develop Your Personal Brand
The public will perceive your future business through your personal brand, so developing a strong brand is an essential part to preparing to become self-employed. From your brand, future clients should be able to quickly and easily ascertain exactly what you do and what services you offer.
When building your personal brand, think about what will make your business unique, and what type of messaging might be helpful to showcase those offerings. Building a brand goes hand-in-hand with marketing and developing a social media presence, so be sure to incorporate your branding and messaging across all social media channels.
5. Prepare Your Finances
If or when you decided to transition to the independent workforce, you’ll want to make sure you’re in a good financial position to do so. Saving now can help you be prepared for when you start your business. It’s a good idea to have a cushion of several months’ income so when you do start working you have some time to secure future projects.
Thinking about what your bill rate might be before you start work can help you set financial goals and expectations. Your bill rate is the foundation on which you’ll build your business, so determining this amount ahead of time will provide peace of mind.
With these resources in hand, you’re well on your way to becoming a successful independent consultant. If you have any additional questions such as how to structure your business, how to handle tax withholding, or what retirement and health benefit options look like, MBO Partners is a great resource. We have answers, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us with your questions!