In our series of articles to help professionals to decide if becoming a Freelancer (or Independent Consultant), we have not yet found content that deal with the personality of the Consultant. Once Again MBO Partners library has produced a great article dealing with Introverts.
My own personal note on this is, being an introvert myself, there is confusion in the market in identifying what is an introvert, how to differentiate from extroverts without making confusion with shy people that not necessarily are introverts, or introvert people that are not necessarily shy.
And this is a huge difference when reading articles like this, to know yourself better and, most important, how o deal with the issue.
June 28, 2017
When thinking of personality traits that make a successful independent consultant, “outgoing,” “social,” or “extroverted” may come to mind. While those who enjoy networking and interacting with others may be at an advantage when it comes to self-promotion or meeting new people, it that doesn’t mean that a natural introvert—or a shy extrovert—can’t succeed as an independent consultant.
The difference between introverts and extroverts isn’t that introverts are reserved and quiet while extroverts are enthusiastic and outgoing, it’s how each gains energy. While a social environment will fuel an extrovert, introverts recharge by being on their own. Here are three ways to use your unique characteristics to your advantage as an introverted independent consultant.
Focus on Your Strengths
Some people may find the benefits of independent consulting attractive, but ultimately conclude that their introverted personality makes them a poor candidate for this career path. However, many introvert qualities are valuable traits when it comes to self-employment. For instance, introverts may be better mentally equipped to not only handle the isolation that comes with working alone, but to actually embrace and benefit from it. Instead of worrying about what you can’t do, focus on the qualities that you do have and use them to your advantage.
Introverts may not be social butterflies, but they are able to build a large network of contacts as quickly and as easily as extroverts. Remember, introverted doesn’t mean antisocial. Introverts tend to excel at building strong, lasting, one-on-one relationships. That type of rapport can easily translate into loyal, long-term clients. Strong client bonds can also lead to referrals and word-of-mouth recommendations.
While introverts may be more reserved, they tend to be good listeners and analytical thinkers. These are valuable traits that can be helpful when it comes to selling your services. When working closely with clients to develop a solution, being able to read people using nonverbal cues can put you at an advantage. By listening carefully and using their intuition, introverts can impress a potential client with a detailed proposal, or gain their trust with a plan that speaks to exactly what they are looking for.
Make Your Weaknesses More Approachable There is a reason why independent consulting is often considered an extrovert’s field: the ability to network and strengthen relationships in a face-to-face setting is invaluable. If you’re the type of person who tends to dread these situations, there are ways to successfully network without having an extroverted personality.
Creating and practicing a short elevator speech before a networking event can be very beneficial for introverts. When you know exactly what you need to say, it can be less nerve-wracking when it’s time to speak to someone.
Another helpful strategy is to have a few questions and short conversation starters in mind that you can ask people you meet. Focus on presenting a friendly and approachable demeanor through non-verbal communication; welcoming body language, confident eye contact, and a warm smile can speak volumes.
Introverts tend to work best one-on-one or in a small group setting. Apply these ideas to networking. Make the first move by speaking to the person who is standing alone, or introduce yourself to a small group. Most people at networking events will jump at the chance to talk about what they do, so ease into a conversation by asking a question and listening.
Use Independence to Your Advantage
While networking may be the most obvious and difficult obstacle for introverted independent consultants, challenges also exist in day-to-day business tasks. By employing strategies to manage trying activities or interactions, you can find a way to work within your personal comfort level.
Don’t hesitate to rely on technology to assist you in appropriate situations. If phone calls and in-person meetings are stressful, make email your primary means of communication. Just be sure that your responses are timely, detailed, and clear. Skype or other instant messaging services can also be useful ways to connect with clients when you need to have a more conversational discussion, so long as the client is comfortable with the technology.
Of course, there will always be circumstances that require face-to-face meetings. In these situations, meet clients in a setting that is most comfortable for you—perhaps a quiet coffee shop as opposed to a corporate-feeling meeting room or your home office.
A lot of business marketing and networking can be done online, so use this to your advantage. Keep your LinkedIn profile up-to-date, and use the site to connect and maintain relationships with professional contacts. Promote and market your services using social media, and create a personal website that describes your services, highlights client recommendations, and showcases your portfolio.
Remember, as an independent consultant you’re able to set your own schedule, decide how you run your business, and choose where you work. Introverts bring many benefits to this career path; it’s simply a matter of playing to your strengths and working with your weaknesses. Your independence is a big perk, so use it to your advantage.
Continuing with our series or articles to help on the decisions surrounding the steps to take before being definitively sure about the decision and to know if you are ready, again from MBO Partners (link on their banner) an article all Freelance wannabe should read. Enjoy!
January 26, 2017
Whether you identify as an independent contractor, self-employed professional, freelancer, or entrepreneur, there’s plenty of gratification in knowing that ultimately, you’re your own boss—you work for yourself, you call the shots, and you own your financial destiny.
While you may be confident in your ability to deliver great services and results to clients, it’s important to take a step back and first work through some strategic planning to ensure your business venture is successful. Here are 6 key steps to help you get started.
1. Determine Your Services
While transitioning to independent work is exciting, it is a significant career and life change. Before you begin, you’ll need to define the services or skills you want to offer. Research your industry, see what’s in demand, and configure your services to match market needs. Be confident in your skills and experience; clients will be counting on you to deliver the results you advertise.
In addition to nailing down your offerings, it’s important to put yourself in the right mindset for the additional responsibility that comes with independence. Remember, you’re not only accountable for delivering the work, but also for finding it. Do you have the resilience to hold out for a contract that takes a few weeks to get signed, or the tenacity to use your network to find new clients? Thoroughly thinking through your services and mentally preparing for how you’ll tackle future hurdles will ensure you’re well positioned to begin independent work.
2. Financially Prepare
Financial preparation is key to a smooth transition. Make sure you either have an immediate project to start your cash flow, or a several month cushion of income to cover expenses until you bring in a contract. Keep in mind that even if you land a project, 60-day terms are common—so don’t expect to get paid right away. As you think through your financial expectations, learn how to set the right bill rate so you maintain realistic expectations and charge the right amount for your services.
In addition to income, plan how to best protect yourself, your family, your business, and your retirement. Look into health insurance options available to independent consultants, and be sure to account for about business insurances you may need such as General Liability, Errors and Omissions, and Workers Compensation. As you get started, be initially conservative with spending; instead of making sure your business has all the bells and whistles, focus on getting out there and securing work.
3. Test it Out
If you’re able, join the 12+ million independent workers who do so on a part-time basis to test out independence. In doing so, you can get a feel for contractor life with a safety net. Start reaching out to your network, build confidence, and develop your portfolio with side projects. If you’re currently working, tread lightly, being sure not to violate your current employment contract.
If moonlighting isn’t an option, meet with a trusted advisor or mentor who can provide guidance and feedback on your plan. Look for someone who has made a similar transition in the past and run your planned offering, messaging, and marketing ideas by them.
4. Outline Your Business
StructureWhile you can’t go wrong with a formal business plan, at the very least you should have a short—12-month—and a long—3-year—roadmap in place. Outline your services, your target clientele and how you plan to reach them, a plan for landing you first contract, how you’ll price your services and why, how you’ll utilize contracts, when and where you want to work, and income and personal development goals.
5. Land Your First Client
You’ll need to find clients early on who will provide enough work to sustain your income. Clients may be people from your professional or social networks, or they may come through word-of-mouth referrals. Pitch your business to employers, peers, colleagues, and friends—you never know who may be in need of your services.
Keep in mind that as an individual worker, you may be initially limited to projects of a certain size—i.e., ones you can handle on your own. However, once you get rolling and find the right balance, you’ll find you have the flexibility to choose the projects you want, and even partner with other independents to take on larger projects or more work.
6. Market Your Business
When you know what direction your business is headed and perhaps have a few projects underway, start thinking about how to best sell what you’ve built. A marketing plan will help you step back, take a look at your business as a whole, and align business goals, such as growing revenue or expanding your service offerings, with marketing objectives.
To start, develop materials that present your skills and credentials—an attractive resume, a website outlining your services, appropriate social profiles, and business cards. As you position yourself as an expert in your field, you can also network by sharing your expertise. Volunteer to participate on panels or webinars, and contribute content to blogs and articles.
While it can be challenging to put the processes and systems in place to become self-sustaining, stay motivated knowing you have the potential to grow a successful, profitable company.
March 21, 2016
When working with a new client or on a new project, it can be easy to assume that everything is clear and that everyone is on the same page in regard to expectations. However, when it becomes apparent that your client's expectations do not align with your own, both the project and your relationship with your client can be put in jeopardy. Below are a few tips for successfully managing client expectations, both proactively and reactively.
Collaborate in the Early Stages
One of the best ways to ensure that your clients maintain realistic and appropriate expectations is to make sure that they both completely understand the terms of the project and feel that those terms are appropriate and fair. To reach this point, sit down with your clients early on in the process to have a conversation to discuss the project and expectations so that you can reach terms that work for both of you. This collaboration will help, first, ensure that your clients have the opportunity to express their needs so that you can make sure they are met, second, clearly communicate your abilities and restrictions so that you don't oversell yourself, and, lastly, ensure that all parties fully understand the expectations.
Clearly Define Scope in Contract
With mutually agreed-upon expectations hammered out, make sure to get everything in writing, with as much detail as possible. All aspects of the expectations of both the client and you as the consultant should be clearly defined in the project scope in your contract. Include deliverables, details about each component and part, timelines, points of contact, etc. In addition to giving you another chance to discuss expectations with your client as you go over your contract together in preparation for signing, this aspect of the contract will also serve as a reference if needed in the future to clear up any misconceptions or confusion.
Focus on Communication
Throughout the entire process of the project, focusing on constant, thorough, and open communication should be key. By making communication a frequent focus, any pain points or frustrations you or your client are feeling regarding project expectations can be discussed quickly and effectively, before they snowball. If your client feels that you aren't meeting expectations, this can quickly become a point of contention that jeopardizes your relationship. First and foremost, make sure that you are meeting your deadlines and expectations, and document progress and completed milestones to demonstrate this to your client. If you are unable to meet a client's expectation that was not clearly defined earlier in the process, be sure to communicate your reasoning; simply saying "no" without an explanation is generally far less effective than helping your client understand your position.
Set Firm Limits
As an independent consultant, going above and beyond for your clients can be the difference in your ability to leave a positive impression and build a reputation for quality, leading to repeat work as well as client referrals. However, there is a difference between going the extra mile and allowing your clients' expectations to cross into the territory of scope creep or unrealistic demands. While making the occasional concession can pay off in the long-term, particularly your most valuable clients, don't allow yourself to get pushed around; if you feel your client's expectations are going off track, schedule time for extended communication and revisit the agreed-upon terms in your contract.
August 2, 2017
Entering into a verbal contract with clients is a common practice among independent professionals. Without the red tape and bureaucracy that can slow down larger businesses, independents enjoy the advantages of being flexible and agile in transactions and deals.
However, while verbal contracts often simplify business, if things go sour they can end up complicating your relationship with your client relationship. So, what’s the best way to protect yourself from a bad situation? Follow these four tips to keep your business both agile and safe.
1. Get it in Writing
Of course, the very best way to protect yourself from issues surrounding verbal contracts is to forgo them completely and use written contracts instead. While this may not be realistic in every situation, it’s often worthwhile to get that all-important client signature. Your contract doesn’t have to be complex—a simple statement of the terms of your agreement that is signed both by you and by your client will suffice.
While most verbal contracts are legally binding, there are a few important details to be aware of. First, both a written and verbal contract must consist of an offer, an acceptance of the offer, and consideration. Consideration means that both sides have to agree to give something up. For example, a client may agree to give up $300 if you agree to give up the time and effort it will take to redesign their website. Second, most states have enacted the Statute of Frauds, which is a law that says certain types of contracts must be written. These include contracts for the sale of land, contracts for the sale of goods valued at $500 or more, and contracts that can’t be completed in less than one year.
At the end of the day, if you find yourself in a court battle, verbal contracts can be difficult to prove. Having a written contract in place removes that risk.
2. Take Notes
If it’s impossible to get a client signature, you’ll still want to record as many details about your verbal contract in writing as possible. Take in-depth notes on your discussion and agreement either during or immediately after your meeting or call. Save any and all files related to your contract, and document all action you take as a result of the contract. By keeping this information, it will be easier to prove that a verbal contract existed if you ever need to support your side in court.
3. Find a Witness
When legal cases involving verbal contracts occur, another method often used to prove that the contract existed is to provide a witness to the conversation. If more than one reliable person is willing to swear that a contract was agreed to, the case becomes more than a he-said, she-said situation.
4. Confirm with an Email
Another effective way of proving that a verbal contract is enforced is to follow up with your client immediately after your conversation via email. Restate the terms of your agreement in detail, referring to your phone call or meeting as their source. Let your client know that you are simply confirming the details with them, and that you would appreciate it if they would reply to ensure you both understood the agreement correctly. An email exchange of this sort would provide ample proof of an existing verbal contract.
By taking a few precautionary steps every time you enter into a verbal contract, you can protect yourself from potential difficulties down the road. If you have further questions about verbal contracts, is advisable to consult with an attorney for information pertaining to your specific circumstances.
The 2017 MBO Partners State of Independence In America paints a positive picture of the independent workforce continuing to grow and mature. Independents, a 41 million strong cohort who now represent about 31 percent of the private U.S. workforce, are distributed across every demographic, age, gender, skill and income group.
“The State of Independence report, the only of its kind with seven years of trending data, shows definitively that independent work is the way of the future,” said Gene Zaino, CEO of MBO Partners. “Even against a strong economy, independents, particularly in skilled labor markets, choose this path over traditional employment. Sixty-five percent of all Independents say that independent work was their choice entirely, and this number will continue to rise as organizations compete in a war for top talent in highly competitive fields such as engineering and computer science.”
In the 2017 study, three key trends emerged, each of which mirrors a significant trend in the overall economy.
First, a strong job market means that independents are increasingly able to compete in the War for Talent on their own terms. This strong job market means independents seeking clients have an easier time than ever finding work as jobs open and companies experience a talent shortage. In 2017, for the sixth year in a row, the number of high-earning independents rose. Now, 3.2 million Full-Time Independents make more than $100,000 annually, up 4.9 percent from 2016. This population now represents nearly one in five Full Time Independents.
Second, while full time independent work is broadly appealing, it’s not for everyone. A portion of the independent workforce has always been characterized as “reluctant”—people who work independently but would prefer a traditional job yet can’t find one that is better than their independent work option. In 2017, thanks to the strong jobs market, the proportion of Reluctant Independents fell to 24 percent, the lowest in all seven years of the study.
Third, more Americans are turning to part-time or occasional independent work to supplement their income. Fueled in part by the growth of the widening array of online platforms, the number of people working as Occasional Independents (those working irregularly or sporadically as independents but at least once per month) soared 23 percent to 12.9 million, up from 10.5 million in 2016.
“While we continue to see differences in attitudes between the different groups of independent workers, the population generally reports that independent work—and the independent lifestyle—is a satisfying way of building income and obtaining greater freedom, control and purpose,” said Zaino. “The very structure of work in America is evolving, and the demand for skilled independents will only increase as companies look to become more agile and flexible in the future.”
This year’s study underscores that independence will remain a viable and desired option for workers in the years to come.
To learn more: Download MBO Partners State of Independence In America 2017
January 19, 2017
As an independent contractor, you do it all—from running errands and scheduling meetings to engaging with new clients and attending networking events. All of these responsibilities can overshadow your work-life balance.
To avoid burnout, stay on top of your workload and keep your clients happy, consider teaming up with another independent contractor. Working with an IC is a great way to help grow your business and share the burden of larger projects.
Here are four instances where partnerships can be helpful.
Assistance With a Large Project
Yes, taking on a big project can be a great way to build client rapport and add experience to your resume, but you don’t want to risk overextending yourself.
Bringing a partner onboard can help you make sure that you have an ‘extra set of hands’ to meet critical deadlines. A partner can offer a second set of eyes, check your work, and may bring a new perspective or fresh ideas. With this additional support, you can continue dedicating time to your ongoing projects, and feel comfortable taking on more work.
Managing an Extensive Workload
Maintaining a steady workload is key if you’re independently employed, so turning down a project can be difficult—even if your schedule is already full. Rather than saying no, outsource some of your work to an independent contractor in your field. A helping hand can alleviate pressure so you don’t fall behind on your work, or risk delaying client deliverables. If you’re unsure how to charge for a project that you found, but can’t work on yourself, consider taking a percentage-based “finder’s fee” if you’re outsourcing a project to a trusted colleague.
Try an IC Admin
Bringing on a personal assistant is another way to ease your workload. An assistant—ideally an independent professional like yourself— can help run errands like mailing, getting lunch, screening calls, and scheduling meetings to give you time to focus on the most important part of your job—the work. Many young professionals would be excited to have the opportunity to learn from an experienced, successful IC, and once you build report and trust an assistant can even attend conferences and events to take notes and market your services. You can even consider a virtual assistant if you don’t need someone in your office daily.
Supplementing Your Skillset
While you probably have a particular area of focus in your field, pulling in another contractor can be helpful when you need specific expertise on a project or topic that isn’t your forte. For example, you may be an organizational change management guru, but not completely equipped for the internal training your client needs once your consulting analysis wraps up. In this instance, partner with an IC who has a background in training to help fill this gap.
Maintaining positive client relationships is essential to your business, so don’t put yourself in a situation where you feel overworked, lose track of tasks, or miss deadlines. Teaming up with another contractor is not only a great way to network, but it’s also an opportunity to welcome a new perspective, put yourself in a learning situation, and build friendship.
August 16, 2017
As an independent professional, it can be easy to get caught up in the cycle of finding a client, completing a project, getting paid, and then repeating the process. While constantly being on the lookout for new projects and new clients comes with the territory of being an independent, if you find yourself starting from scratch each time, the process may quickly begin to feel unsustainable.
Finding ways to create a stable base of monthly income can help give you more freedom in your work, minimize the stress of living with a fluctuating monthly income, and give you the time to find the projects and clients you truly want to work with. Here are four additional revenue streams to explore.
1. Expand Your Offerings
Take a look at your current service offerings compared to the skills you know you have. Are there any additional, smaller services you may be able to provide that you can upsell clients on? For example, if you specialize in social media strategy, could you add on the option to create social media content or run ad campaigns? If you specialize in website design, are there other design services you may be able to offer?
2. Vary Your Income Sources
Aside from your base service offerings, what other valuable assets can you provide to vary your sources of income? Consider creating and selling online products such as training courses on specific topics, e-books related to your expertise, or a subscription service to exclusive content or a monthly newsletter. These supplementary products not only help to boost your credibility, but they can also help to generate additional monthly cash flow.
3. Create Recurring Services
Offering recurring services is a simple way to generate more reliable income each month. A monthly retainer is one type of recurring service. With a retainer, clients pay a set amount each month in exchange for utilizing your services as needed—perhaps for a set number of hours—rather than signing a contract for one specific project. Similar to a retainer, you may also consider offering monthly maintenance packages. For example, if you’re a website developer, a monthly package could include backups, security audits, site updates, and general support. Monthly and package offerings diversify the type of services you offer and can help you build a strong business relationship with a specific client.
4. Plan Ahead
When discussing a new project idea with a client, think ahead to what additional services they may need once you’ve completed their initial ask. In addition to designing a client’s website, for example, perhaps you also talk about including monthly website support once the project is complete. Or, in addition to reviewing your client’s content marketing strategy, talk to them about providing a monthly or semi-annual strategy review. By thinking ahead and anticipating your client’s future needs you can build trust by showing them the value your services while keeping your pipeline full. While clients may not initially be interested in including an additional monthly service, if you’re able to prove your worth by successfully completing your current project, you’re certain to be top of mind in the future.
April 4, 2017
One of the benefits of being an independent professional is having the flexibility to follow your passion and choose the type of work you do. However, project frequency can ebb and flow, and it can sometimes be difficult to establish a steady stream of work.
Luckily, there are many ways to keep your pipeline full such as leveraging online marketplaces, reaching out to your network, and giving your personal brand a boost. Here are three best practices for keeping your independent business busy.
Find Marketplaces that Fit your Skillset
Online marketplaces** are increasingly prevalent and popular places to find short-term work as an independent professional. These platforms match job opportunities with freelancers. Typically, you’ll fill out a standard profile and then apply to positions that best fit your skill set.
When utilizing online marketplaces, start by doing some research to find specific sites that align with your industry. Some networks are geared more towards IT professionals, while others focus more on management consulting. While online marketplaces offer numerous opportunities, it may be difficult to establish meaningful or ongoing client relationships with one-off projects.
Company-specific marketplaces are another option that may provide longer-term engagements. Integrated direct sourcing exchanges like MBO Connect™ help all different types of independent professionals grow their project pipeline by matching their skills, availability, and rate with contract opportunities.
Many major organizations are furthering the trend of flexible employment by using independent professionals to staff projects. These companies are developing external-facing solutions to engage independent talent.
For example, the Talent Exchange is one such professionally focused marketplace.
To discover other company-specific marketplaces, reach out to former employers or clients to see if their organization has a talent marketplace you can join.
Reach Out to Your Network
Networking can be a great way to find work during a dry spell. Reach out to friends and colleagues to see if they have any recommendations of others to network with. If you have a positive, ongoing relationship with a former client, see if they have any upcoming projects, or if they know of someone who may be in need of your services.
Partnering with other consultants is another way to secure work. Colleagues often need assistance on a large project, or on a certain part of a project that they don’t have expertise in. Working with another independent consultant is a great way to build your network and meet clients who are not currently in your roster.
Prepare Your Credentials
No matter what kind of marketplace you use to find work, you’ll likely fill out some sort of profile, resume wizard, or pass on information about your services to a lead. Preparing your credentials ahead of time will help you smoothly move through these processes.
A resume is a useful sales tool for your business, and can help set you apart from your competition. A resume showcases your top work, skills, and experience in a simple, easy-to-read format.
In addition to a resume, your LinkedIn profile is often the first thing a potential client will look at, so ensure it is up-to-date. LinkedIn can be particularly useful to promote your pas successes. If you don’t already have client testimonials on your profile, reach out to past clients and ask for a recommendation.
Lastly, take an overall look at your personal marketing efforts. If you have a professional website, make sure it is updated to show off your latest projects. If you regularly blog, ensure you share these content efforts across social media platforms. Building a strong personal brand will help boost your professional credibility and assist with your outreach efforts.
The Best Marketplaces for Independent Consulting Jobs
** POSTED BY BEN SHANBROM | JUL 25, 2017 |
July 4, 2017
From freedom, flexibility, and control, to pursuing your passion, and working from anywhere, there are plenty to of perks to being an independent contractor. Here are 10 reasons to fall in love with self-employment.
1. Be Your Own Boss
When you’re an independent contractor, you have the flexibility to make your own hours and create the work-life balance you’ve dreamed of and deserve. Independents testify that their career choices stem from a desire to have greater freedom, flexibility, control, and purpose.
Finding the right balance can be a journey of self-discovery, but it’s an effort you’ll thank yourself in the end.
2. Make More Money
Did you know that nearly half of the independent workforce (47%) reported making more money working on their own than they would in a traditional job? According to our State of Independence report, 3 million of the 16.9 million full-time independents earned more than $100,000—up nearly 50% from 2 million in 2011.
3. Pursue the Projects
That Ignite Your Passion75% of independents agree that doing something you love is more important than making money. When you break down the reasons, it’s a no-brainer: more passion means more productivity. When you feel a personal connection to your work, it’s natural to put in more hours in a day. As one article puts it, our working careers will consume most of our lives, so we might as well do something we enjoy.
As an independent, you’re in it to do the work you love and that likely doesn’t include dealing with the needs of a back office. Our experts can help eliminate clutter so you can focus on the things that keep your passion aflame.
4. The Power to Say “No”
On the other hand, if a potential project doesn’t seem fulfilling, you have the power to walk away if your heart isn’t in it. Those kinds of discussions, both with yourself and with potential clients, aren’t always easy, but it’s important to know that you’re able to say: “it’s not you, it’s me.”
Did you just cringe at that awful break-up quote? Here are some things to avoid saying to a client to maintain a positive relationship.
5. Learn New Skills
The freedom to work where you want also provides the freedom to learn. Different projects you take on can require different responsibilities and skillsets. Keeping skills and knowledge current through personal pursuits or through diverse work experience can give independent contractors a competitive advantage when starting new work relationships.
6. Tax Deductions
Running your own business can be costly, but it also entitles you to some special perks. From office supplies to professional memberships and subscriptions, there are a myriad of expenses you may be able to write off as a member of the independent workforce.
7. A Commute That Saves Time, Money, and Anxiety
Did you know that the average American worker spends over 40 hours a year stuck in traffic on the way to the office? Another study shows workers spend nearly $2,600 annually on their daily commute, and U.S. highway congestion alone costs $160 billion a year. Time is money, and that’s a pretty penny!
Less time spent on the road means more time to spend on your clients, and more time to dedicate to your personal well-being.
8. Control Over Your Own Ideas
The freedom of creativity is a powerful thing. As a self-employed professional, your ideas are yours alone, and without having to run anything past a manager or team, your only criticism will come from someone already invested in your ideas, your clients! When you’re your own boss, no idea is ignored.
If you’re ready to share your ideas with the world, it’s time to consider building the right public thought leadership.
9. Work Anywhere
In the words of Buckaroo Banzai, “No matter where you go, you are there.” As an independent consultant, you have the power and technology to run your business from anywhere. Whether you’re California dreamin’, or are heading down South, between cloud-based services, mobile offices, and constantly evolving technology, home truly is where the heart is.
MBO’s self-employed resources can help to keep you on the move, whether you’re changing jobs or just changing addresses.
10. Meet New People
The independent lifestyle provides a unique opportunity to meet people you may have never crossed paths with in a typical work environment. After all, the key to a successful start as an independent business is networking—whether it’s via LinkedIn and social media, joining professional organizations, or attending special events, you’ll be ahead of the game when it comes to marketing yourself and getting leads.
When you made the decision to open your own business as an independent consultant, you took on the responsibility of ensuring your consultancy's legal and financial well-being. As an independent consultant, you are your business. If any legal or financial problems arise that affect your business, they also affect you directly. By protecting your business against the risk of liability losses, you are protecting yourself and your future security.
What Are Your Options?
Of course, the types of contractors insurance that are right for your business will vary greatly, depending on your industry, the size of your business, your client type, and other factors. Below are a few common types of business insurance that are often applicable to independent consultants.
General liability insurance is often necessary for independent consultants. This insurance covers a wide range of incidents, including accidental damage to a client's property, claims of libel or slander, and the cost of defending lawsuits.
Also known as "errors and omissions insurance," professional liability insurance provides protection in the instance of a client incurring financial harm due to an error or omission - that is, a failure to perform an integral part of your responsibility on a project - on the part of the consultant.
You may wonder what homeowner's insurance has to do with protecting your business. While this doesn't apply to everyone, it's relevant for those independent consultants who choose to work out of home offices. Most homeowners' insurance policies do not cover losses sustained by a home-based business by default, and require specific riders added to the policy. This is especially true if clients visit your home office setting.
Why Do You Need It?
Some independent consultants forgo insurance in order to cut costs. However, the cost of resolving even a moderate issue, such as a contract dispute, without insurance can be far more expensive than the cost of the premiums. It can sometimes be enough to put companies out of business entirely. Protecting yourself with business insurance is not just the smart thing to do; some states may require you to have certain types of business insurance.
Even if You Don't … They Do
The reality is that many of your future clients will also require specific insurance coverage as a condition of hiring. By hiring you as an independent consultant and putting their project into your hands, they are placing a large amount of trust in you. Mistakes happen though, so it is important to guard against them and mitigate the client's risk as much as possible. Many procurement organizations require standardized insurances to enable set-up of a new vendor business providing services, even for very small scale projects.
How Much Do You Need?
Exactly how much insurance you need will again depend on your industry, the type of clients you have, and other factors. However, expect most clients to require a minimum of $1,000,000 in general liability insurance, and another $1,000,000 in professional liability coverage, so keep these numbers in mind as a starting point. Umbrella policies, which cover costs above and beyond your general liability coverage, are also generally recommended.
How Much Does it Cost?
You guessed it -the cost of business insurance will vary, depending on your business' income and industry, among other factors. Consider looking into BOP insurance, also known as a "business owners policy." These policies combine the coverage of a number of different policies - such as general liability and professional liability - into one package, often at a cost that is significantly less than purchasing the policies separately. Get as many quotes as you can to make sure that you get the best value possible. If you take the time to shop around when purchasing insurance, the cost may be less than you expect.
You may also consider offering services via an independent contractor engagement specialist; MBO Partners, author of this blog, is one such organization. These organizations offer insurances aspart of their service package for independent business owners, forgoing the need for purchasing expensive individual business insurances before revenues can sustain it.
How Do You Buy It?
Business insurance can be purchased through an insurance agent or directly from the insurer. Take the time to research your options before purchasing; you may want to consider getting recommendations from colleagues or from your local chamber of commerce.
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