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To consult, or not to consult

By kkopp ·
To paraphrase a well known quote, "To Consult or not to Consult, that is the question."

Due to reasons beyond my control (or maybe not), I find myself looking for work. I find that I have several choices ahead of me and I really need more information to proceed.

My choices are:
1. Look for another employer.
2. Try my had at Consulting.
3. Try another field of work.
4. Go crawl into a cave and write something.

To be quite honest, I am being pushed to do #1, but I have been really wanting to do #2.

Because of how poorly managed I was, deep in my heart, I want to do #3 & #4.

Intellectually, I can see that poor management is a bit of a two-way street. It really is all about communication. But, really, that man kind of scared me. (A hard thing for a guy to admit in a public forum.) Between the yelling rampages and the veins popping up on his forehead, I didn't know whether the man was going to pop a nut or murder someone.

I guess what I am really digging for is this:
What does it take to be a consultant?
What are the bonuses and the drawbacks?
What made you get into it in the first place?
What made you give it up (If you did)?

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my suggestion

by jck In reply to To consult, or not to con ...

I feel your pain. Honest. I'm in the same boat. I have worked at 8 places now in 11 years in FL. The bad jobs last less than 1 year (2 real bad, 1 okay ...boss was great but the head guy was a bush think-i-am-always-right-wanna-be ).

My suggestion:

Do #1 or #3. Get something that pays regularly to sustain you.

Do #2 or #4 on the side. Establish something in your spare time that will get you ahead and maybe even get you out of #1 or #3.

To be a consultant it takes:
- Willingness to do everything yourself (tech + PR + secretary + finance guy)
- Be available
- Be able to put a face on even when you wanna yell

Bonus/drawbacks (so far as I can tell):
Pros:
-make your schedule
-determine what projects you want to take
-set your own value

Cons:
-no guaranteed work
-direct line of fire from customers
-no paid benefits

What made me consider getting into it?

I got tired of dealing with the crap and being lied to and having assurances broken to me.

Good luck to you. Hope that you get something soon.

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Thanks

by kkopp In reply to my suggestion

I am planning on applying for jobs (#1), but have been hearing that the market in my neck of the woods is slim.

I see that there are over 100 small businesses within a 5 mile radius of my house. I would suspect some of them might need some IT help, if only for some of the small stuff.

I've also considered House inspections. I've been hearing that the demand is high in my area. But that will cost me $$$.

So many decisions, so little time.

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When I was out of work

by jck In reply to Thanks

in the tech downturn in 2001...i went to work in a liquor store because a) i was so bored, and b) i hated taking unemployment.

it isn't important that you get right back into IT, and you don't have to make a career change to do it. Work in a convenience store, liquor store, service station, library, department store, etc. Just have something that keeps you busy (but not too busy), and earns you a decent amount of money til you can get back into something you enjoy.

Again, good luck. I hope you get something very soon.

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Same here, but now!!!!

by aaronjsmith21 In reply to When I was out of work

I am now in that same position, I was really busy in Consulting up until about 8 or 9 months ago! Now due to lack of work, I am working at the local gas station 3rd shift, mainly to keep from spending all my savings, and also due to boredom. I also hate unemployment, but due to the nature of my constulting work, I was under contracts so I am unable to even collect unemployment anyways.

SO I guess the real answer is that you may find it not worth your while to start consulting now. I would suggest trying to build a client base that you can work with after hours out of work and see how well that holds up in your area, if it works, then you can consider doing it, but if your clients continue to change rapidly, don't do it.

PS. Due to the nature of IT consulting, you can be held liable for any damages that happen in a company, so unless you work under tight contracts, you will need to form a business, LLC, INC or something to protect your personal stuff, if you don't they can sue you directly, if you have a properly formed LLC then they can only sue your company, and not you!!! That is what I had to do. I formed and LLC, cheapest and easiest way to go. Make sure you do it right though!

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Forming an LLC

by kkopp In reply to Same here, but now!!!!

I've been looking over the Minnesota statutes for forming an LLC and I think that would be a really good idea. I have an tax accountant friend, time to look him up and have a chat.

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I'd encourage you to...

... read the <a href="http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/project-management/">IT Consultant blog</a> here ion TR. Of particular interest to your question:

<a href="http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/project-management/?p=125">So you want to be a consultant?</a>
<a href="http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/project-management/?p=212">10 personality traits of a highly effective independent consultant</a>

Good luck on your choice! I have never regretted getting out of the corporate squirrel-cage and working for myself these last 17+ years!

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It shows <nt>

by santeewelding In reply to I'd encourage you to...
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I'll choose to take that as a compliment

by Sterling "chip" Camden Contributor In reply to It shows <nt>
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Thanks

by kkopp In reply to I'd encourage you to...

This gives me a lot to chew on.

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Beware of your reasons .....

by PMPsicle In reply to To consult, or not to con ...

Before I comment on consulting I have a couple of cautions (and yes, I realize the horse is out of the barn already) ....

Firs, bad bosses exist. Get over it. When you meet one say to yourself "This too shall pass". Then decide
1) how long will it last?
2) Can you live with it that long?
3) What shall I do about it? ...
Once you've answered those three questions you are ready to go on to the next stages. Which may mean cutting and running. Remember that the grass is always greener and bad bosses exist everywhere (owning your own business means you have more bosses btw).

If you decide to go into consulting then decide with a clear mind based on a sound business decision. Admittedly, I don't know any consultants who've done that but I know a large number who know better now.

Consulting is a business like any other business. Unfortunately, a lot of people (on both sides of the purchase fence) don't realize that. And it can easily become simply another form of employment without the benefits or safeguards.

Like any other business, the smart entrepreneur needs to go into it with knowledge.... Who is my market? Why are they buying? Why would they buy from me (vs ...)? What is my unique marketing message (aka hook)? What is my unique product? How does it solve my client's problems? How much business is out there? How much can I charge based on the market? How can I "cheat the market" (i.e. bring in a concept from a different market to avoid the limitations of this)? How can I upsell the market? How can I build alternate streams of income? What is my cost structure? Get the impression there is a lot of questions to ask? These are only the first. Ready to do some research?

Now the truth is that most people don't do this .... as Dan Kennedy says they end up IN their business not running a business. Most people go into business because they enjoy doing the work and want to do it without the headaches of working for someone else. Unfortunately, the market doesn't care what you want. You need to determine what the market is about and then decide if you can live with it, exploit it and make a living from it. Most people also go bankrupt 3-5 times before creating a business that lasts more than 5 years.

So that said ....
What does it take? The ability to live with the above without becoming discouraged. A knowledge and understanding of business topics. The ability to design a business and then live within the design. An ability to separate your ego from the business. Discipline.

I suggest that you read some of Chip's blogs as a start to fill in the rest of the requirements.

Bonuses/Drawbacks: The bonuses you'll discover on your own quick enough. But they include freedom, control of your future, and ownership. Drawbacks ... you have to be a strong risk manager (high risk). Lack of work, dealing with gatekeepers who don't know their own jobs, dealing with purchasers who don't know their own costs, dealing with clients who can't distinguish between consultant, contractor and employee. More time spent working on the business and less in the business (mind you I've learned to like that better). And onwards ....

Why in? Because I got outsourced twice in a row by the same consulting company. (a) I did tell you most people discover the rules after they made the mistake (b) I grew up in small business so I'm comfortable with the entrepreneurial life.

Why out? I'm still here. If I leave it will be because the market has changed and there is no place in it for me.

Glen Ford, PMP
http://www.TrainingNOW.ca

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