Becoming your own boss and starting a consulting business may sound like the perfect career change for a lot of Quality, Safety and Environmental experts. Below are a few of the things I would ask of yourself before you take the plunge.
How comfortable are you with unstable work conditions?
a consultant for me is like starting at a new job on a weekly
(sometimes daily basis). You go through the interview process (quoting
the work and talking about your skills), winning the job, your first day
on the job (meeting all of the staff, learning how everything works),
understanding the office politics and then in some cases finishing up
(if it's just a one off job) all in the space of a few days. If you are a
shy person or uncomfortable with having to meet new people all the
time, consulting is not the direction for you.
Could you survive without any income for 12 months?
an ideal world you would hit the ground running and start earning
immediately. The reality is that even if you have clients already lined
up, it may take anywhere up to 3 months (or more) before you start to
see any real form of cash flow. You may also face weeks at a time where
things are quiet and you aren't invoicing enough to pay yourself a
steady income. I've had projects that have taken 3 months of my time and
then payment may get dragged out for another 3 months. That could mean
almost 6 months with no regular income while you wait for the big payout
at the end. Unless you have a decent chunk of savings or a financier
with deep pockets, it may not be the best idea.
Are you a self motivator?
work can sometimes be so mind numbingly boring that procrastination
seems like the only way of maintaining your sanity. Unfortunately unless
you can push yourself to put your head down and get it done you are
going to end up with a huge pile of work to do and a stress factor of
Are all of your eggs in one basket?
have met quite a few people over the years who have gone out on their
own because they have one or two large clients lined up that makes the
move seem worthwhile. The problem with this is that work always dries up
eventually and companies change. That golden client your entire
business rests on might decide to employee an internal resource or scale
down their spending on external consultants or they might just decide
you're not the right match for what they are looking for. If you lose that income stream, do you have other work you can fall back on while you hunt for new projects?
are just some of the things I have dealt with over the last 5 years. It
is a very rewarding job with a lot of freedom, but it has to be the
right fit for you.