Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Don't Wait to Be Rescued, Be Your Own Rescue Plan

I'm happy Tac Anderson at TechBoise wrote this post considering the current economic climate we're in.

I've been thinking recently how taking action now will only set you up for success in the future. Despite the fact many businesses are slowing down or going out of business all together, people with specialized knowledge and expertise have more of an opportunity to demonstrate the value of their services. Business leaders are emphasizing value these days because they know whatever they spend on now must last them longer. In addition, they don't want to commit long-term to an employee paying salaries and benefits.  Consultants are becoming more of an attractive solution to current business problems.  The needs still exist and businesses are still operating even though the media is reporting doom and gloom.

What does this mean for you?  It depends if you are employed by a company or if you are an independent consultant.

If you are employed by a company, I wouldn't drop everything to become a consultant.  Regardless if the economy was good, becoming a consultant is not something that should be taken lightly.  You need to slowly move yourself away from the steady paycheck, building a roster of clients, before you cut the safety line entirely.  People wanting to move toward becoming a consultant should do the following in today's economy:

  • Do your current job and do it well.  Find ways to make yourself indespensible and add value.  Many people are out of a job and the last think you want is to become one of them.
  • Increase your skills - take classes or get training in areas you would like to improve in.
  • Network with other professionals as much as you can.
  • Start with small freelance projects to build a portfolio.
  • Build a managable roster of clients that you can feel confident who will provide you with a steady stream of profitable projects.
When the time is right, you'll know when to break out on your own. 

If you are currently a consultant, your strategy is slightly different:
  • Look to your current client roster and focus in on specific needs or problems they are facing. How can you help solve them?
  • Increase your skills - find new areas you can get training in and reposition your newly acquired skills to help your clients (or new clients for that matter)
  • Network, network, network!
Whether in an up economy or a down economy, clients are not going to give you work. You have to go out and earn it. While Tac's post is focused on individuals looking for a job and urging them instead to take action to start their own businesses, the same holds true for consultants. However, I urge caution. We're in the profession of solving client's problems. It does not matter if you are employed by a company or you are your own company and CEO.  Set yourself up for success by demonstrating your worth and value to your employer and your clients.


Chrissy said...

I agree, with this 'recession' I too believe it is time to change things and at least do what you love doing.

I read a book that has really helped me along my windy road in dreams of being a consultant . A book called The Expert's Edge by Ken Lizotte.
It essentially outlines a road map for successfully navigating your way from professional with pearls of wisdom to savvy expert / thought leader.
I hope you find what you're looking for in this book as I have found.

Justin Beller said...

Thank you for the comment. One of the key components to consulting is demonstrating your knowledge and expertise. Thanks for recommending The Expert's Edge. I look forward to reading it in the near future.