With the global trend towards going it alone, more and more workers, especially younger ones, are eschewing traditional employed status and instead, starting up as contract workers, temporary workers, and, as I discuss in this article, independent business consultants.
The Independents—Business Consultants Now Opting to go it Alone
It began during the economic crisis of 2008, when business consultants laid off by struggling employers decided that, to survive, their best options were to launch their own startups.
More than a decade later, going it alone has become a lifestyle choice for many.
And it is not only experienced consultants who are striking out on their own. Younger people with skills are increasingly opting for self-employment, according to a BMO Wealth Management survey.
It’s Trendy to Be an Independent
The 2019 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report says that while self-employment was once considered to be “alternative work”, this segment of the workforce now “has grown and gone mainstream”.
In the United States, according to a 2017 Upwork survey, some 57.3 million workers (36 percent of the workforce) are self-employed. The global freelancing platform predicts that by 2027, more than half of the US workforce will be self-employed or freelancing.
In the United Kingdom, Office of National Statistics figures reveal that more than 5 million of the current 32.8-million-strong workforce are self-employed as freelancers or business-operators.
According to a LexisNexis industry report, the impact of startups has been significant, especially when it comes to competition for talent.
‘Mainstream consulting firms will increasingly see competition from boutique firms, as well as generalist and specialised freelance consultants. Between the rise of independent consultants and renewed interest by companies in establishing in-house consulting teams, consulting firms may struggle to find and keep experienced consultants.’
What are the Benefits of Going it Alone?
Flexibility: Most employees at one time or another have dreamed of working for themselves and being their own boss; working at their own pace wherever and whenever they want; and being free to pursue their passion. An independent consulting career offers this —but only to those who lay a sustainable foundation.
More Time with Family: Being self-employed means that you don’t have to ask anyone’s permission to attend to family affairs, such as school functions, children’s birthday parties, and other domestic demands.
Money, Money, Money: The prospect of enhanced finances is by far the main motivating factor for consultants to launch their own startups.
The global business consulting services market is estimated to be growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 4.7 percent and will reach 183,200 million US dollars by the end of 2024, according to a WiseGuy global industry report.
In other words, the consulting business is booming, and while the four main players—Deloitte Consulting, PwC, KPMG, and EY—will share the largest slice of the pie, there will still be plenty of rich pickings for the smart, independent operator.
So Many Advantages, So What Could Possibly go Wrong?
It turns out that many things could go wrong, and the startup dream could quite easily turn into an unpleasant wakeup call. Here are some of the cons of going it alone:
Lack of Benefits: You have to take care of your own healthcare insurance, your pension scheme, and pay your own taxes. You also have to do without holiday pay.
The Buck Stops Here: As a one-person operation, the full responsibility of running a business falls on you, and on you alone. This includes organising files and documents, finding clients, managing clients, billing, accounting and bookkeeping, building and maintaining a business website, and marketing the business.
Working Long Hours : If you plan to do everything listed above all on your own, you should expect to work 80 to 90 hours a week. One option to ease the pressure is to hire an offshore virtual assistant to handle some of the tasks.
Cash-flow Problems: As I point out in another article on this site, if you are determined to drop out of corporate life and launch a startup, you must be prepared to survive on zero income for 6 to 9 months as you get your business going. Even when your business is well established, the problem often remains of trying to collect cash from reticent clients.
Still Determined to Launch That Startup?
By all means, go ahead and hang up your consulting shingle. Go it alone, but be sure to play it smart, to play it hard, and to play it long. And don’t underestimate the effort that you’ll need to build a winning consulting business of your own.
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