Before you decide to go ahead and quit your corporate job to become an independent consultant, you should be sure it’s absolutely the right thing to do. Like any form of business ownership, there are certain pros and cons to independent consulting, as there are to working as a company employee.
If you’re trying to decide whether to make the leap yourself, take a few minutes to read through the following summary of business-ownership pros and cons.
Each of them will matter to you to a greater or lesser degree, and each will have an impact on your happiness, satisfaction, and income. Weigh them up carefully before you kiss your job goodbye, because going it alone is not just a career change, but a complete lifestyle transition—and now is the time to make sure your decision is the right one.
The Pros of Shifting to Business Ownership
Of course if leaving the corporate life to work for oneself wasn’t a potentially good move, nobody would do it. There are definite advantages, some of which you may already have considered, and some which you may not have thought so much about. Think of the following pros as a checklist, and if there are any you haven’t already weighed, give them a little thought, before moving on to do the same with the cons.
#1: Almost No Limit to Financial Rewards
It may be a cliché, but it’s true: nobody ever got rich working for somebody else. While rising to heady executive heights might assure you of a very generous salary, it takes a lot to get there and few professionals make a fortune, even in the highest corporate positions.
On the other hand, the amount of money you can make as a business owner is limited only by the amount of work you are prepared to put in and the decisions you make in the growth of your enterprise.
#2: Nearly Total Autonomy
The ability to make your own decisions is a definite advantage of working for yourself. You can steer your own course and will have almost nobody to answer to but yourself. I say “almost,” because in reality, you will find yourself answering to your clients when working on their projects.
#3: Everything is in Your Control
When running your own business, you have full control, not only over the decisions you make in steering your business, but also over such things as how many hours per day you work, what days of the week you work, which jobs you take on, and which ones you reject. Even if things aren’t always completely under your control, you always have the sense that they are, and that counts for a lot.
The Cons of Being a Business Owner
Along with the pros, there are some aspects of business ownership which can be uncomfortable, especially if you have spent many years in conventional employment. The most important of these “cons” are listed below:
#1: It’s Harder to Switch Off
When you are Chief Officer of Everything, it’s all too easy to lose yourself continuously in your business, which aside from the possible negative effects on your home, family, and social life, can lead to excessive stress and strain on your body and mind. As an employee of a corporation, it’s easy to switch off when the workday is finished or you take your holidays. Not so when you work for yourself.
#2: You’re Chief of Everything, Whether you Like it or Not
This particular con is especially true for independent consultants, because unless you plan to develop your practice into a large consulting firm, you will be pretty much playing as a one-man band. This means you’ll have to take on all the tasks involved in running a business, even those you really dislike.
This is a problem you’re much less likely to face as a company employee, since you’ll probably have a very specific role to which you apply your preferred skills, while some other person or department takes care of business minutiae.
#3: An Irregular Source of Income
As your own boss, you’ll have times when you wonder when the next paycheck will come in, and whether or not it will be enough to pay the bills. Of course at other times, you’ll have lots of work and lots of cash coming in. However, this inconsistency can be uncomfortable if you’re used to the regular, fixed rate of pay that goes with a corporate career.
Take a Sure Step to Self-employment
If you’ve considered the pros and cons of business ownership listed in this article, and still feel that all things considered, you’ll be making the right decision by switching from corporate employment to live as a self-employed independent consultant, by all means go ahead and put the wheels in motion.
If you’re not quite so sure though, why not consider a gradual transition?
Instead of quitting your job right away, perhaps you can find a way to begin taking a few consulting assignments as a sideline, and begin building your own business up that way. Once you’re into the swing of the consulting business and feeling more confident, you can take the next step and dispense with the safety net of corporate employment.