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Begin Consulting & Keep Job?

By tkrin ·
Hello all. I am considering attempting to begin a consulting career. My focus ultimately would be on small to medium sized businesses. My only concern/wonder is how to do this while keeping my day job?

Anyone have any experiences similar to this? I know people who have done this cold turkey but I am not financially capable of doing that right now. Maybe I should look for a different job, meaning a different shift?

Any advice you all can push my way? Experiences, web sites, books, etc.?

Thanks.

~T

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by TheChas In reply to Begin Consulting & Keep J ...

T,

The first thing you need to do is take a hard look at your employee handbook.

Most companies have policies that cover outside work.

Common restrictions include:

Must not conflict with, or effect your work effort.

Must not provide a product or service that your employer provides.

Must not make use of company resources.

The primary problem I see with changing jobs to accommodate your consulting business is that you start over at ground zero.
No vacation time,
No history.
You are usually on probation for several weeks or months, and any work rule violation can get you fired.

I think that for most smaller businesses, the owner has been where you are now, and will work with you and your schedule for a while.
That is, until they have a system crash during your work hours.

You might want to start by taking small jobs that should not need quick response times to problems.

Save up as much money as you can, then when your comfortable, go full time.

Chas

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by brian In reply to Begin Consulting & Keep J ...

In a nutshell...
You have to have money. Not a lot but some. People won't just call you because you decided to do this. You can't depend on word of mouth either. You need to get a marketing plan and fund it before making a move. Most small businesses fail and most that fail do so because of under capitalization, not enough money.

You need at least a couple months pay and a budget to buy any needed items as well as marketing funds. This is the bare minimum and be prepared to take a pay cut. I would price my services higher rather thatn lower so that you don't require a full week to make what you are now. You can't easily go back and raise rates without losing customers. Good customers don't go to the low cost provider as a rule.

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by tkrin In reply to

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by tkrin In reply to Begin Consulting & Keep J ...

Thanks Chaz and Brian.

I was not really thinking about the employee handbook. I am a gov't employee and would not be competing w/ anything we do or create at my facility. I'll still have to check things out regarding any type of seceondary employmen though.

I have some money, roughly two months wages, but was wondering about the remote possibility of keeping my day job in the very beginning for maybe six months to a year. Equipment for startup will not really be an issue. I have all I need for test bed situations and test installs and what not. My biggest concern really is getting myself known out there. There are many different opinions on that and since I'm not a marketing guy, thats' where my largest worries are.

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by timwalsh In reply to Begin Consulting & Keep J ...

There are always problems trying to balance two jobs. Unless you work some kind of shift that gives you some leewya in work hours at your current job, you will only have your "free" time(lunches, nights, weekends, vacations) to pursue consulting.

It sounds like you want to keep your full-time job until you essentially become self-sufficient as a consultant.

Your problem is that your are not going to be able to build any type of steady customer base if you are only available to work at night or on weekends (when most small- to medium-sized businesses outside of retailing or manufacturing AREN'T working).

You will also have NO chance of becoming self-sufficient (nor will you be considered a serious consultant) if you gain a reputation of only being available at night or on weekends.

And don't forget that initial impressions (on which most reputations are initially based) are very hard (and sometimes impossible) to overcome.

Regardless of what shift you work on your current job, when consulting, if you aren't available when your (potential) customer needs you, they will hire someone else.

Your best bet, given your current financial status, would be to find a small company to work for, that provides consulting services, but will still pay a salary (vs. pay you only for hours worked). Then quit your current job. This will give you the security of a full-time job while still getting your name known in the commercial sector.

Hope this helps.

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