Independent Consultants: Excellence Begins Here

Have you ever dreamed about starting something and the idea just won’t go away?  You give yourself all sorts of reasons not to pursue it.

“I don’t have time.”

“Someone else has probably already done it.”

 “It’s too big. I’ll never be able to accomplish it.”

“I can’t commit to another thing!”

Or in my case, “I hate to write.”

But the idea still won’t go away.

Now, you start thinking about all the reasons you should do it. As you talk yourself into it, the idea spawns scores of related ideas, and you can’t not do it.

So here I am, launching this blogwhich will help you become a better management consultant and solopreneur.

To be successful, being excellent isn't enough. You also must be a savvy business. I will write about how to accomplish both.

My Story

After my first year as an independent consultant I realized that I:

  • Worked fewer hours
  • Made about $30,000 more than I did as a director at a global company
  • Paid less federal income tax, and
  • Spent more time with my daughter.

I thought, Everyone should be doing this! But, of course, it’s not that easy.

For the next 12 years, I continued doing independent consulting. I wasn’t rich, but I was comfortable. I was able to pay for my daughter’s private school, take an international trip every year, and put about $20,000 a year into my retirement account. I worked hard but not excessively so; I billed about 30-35 hours a week but took a lot of vacation days.

Along the way, one of my projects was a career game-changer. I was hired as an independent consultant to help Clorox implement a vendor-management system and contractor-compliance process. I quickly realized that “contractor compliance” was really bad news for self-employed professionals like me. This new screening process with its employee and insurance requirements was going to make it inordinately difficult to qualify for a business-to-business pay structure.

Fresh with this realization, in 2009 I started PrōKo Consulting, a new business model that simultaneously addresses the needs of independent consultants and the corporations hiring them. The consultants maintain their independent status and valuable tax deductions, and the corporations mitigate their employment risk at a fraction of the cost of traditional solutions.

Over the last seven years, PrōKo has represented independent consultants at Fortune 500 clients like Nike, Facebook, NetApp, and Franklin Templeton Investments. In my role as Managing Officer, I’ve interviewed and vetted hundreds of consultants and worked on countless estimates and contracts.

With the benefit of this unique experience, I understand how the independent consulting game works from both sides of the fence. I understand why—and—how clients hire independent consultants, and I understand how consultants need to present themselves and “go to market.” I know the differences between contractors and consultants, and I know the differences between an average consultant and a consulting rock star. I’ve seen smart, talented people struggle with “going independent” after leaving their corporate jobs. Conversely, I’ve seen independent careers flourish with seemingly little effort—without websites, brochures, or blogs.

Throughout my 20 years in consulting (which started with PwC back in the last century), I’ve been a diligent student and keen observer. What works? What doesn’t? Why? What I love is helping people clarify their goals and become the best that they can be. And that’s why I’m here writing this blog—to help you.

Why This Blog Now?

About a year ago I started jotting blog ideas on sticky notes and posting them around my desk. My sticky notes have since migrated to an Excel spreadsheet with more than 60 topics, and I keep adding more. My seed of an idea has blossomed into a garden.

In the midst of all this note-taking, I noticed something. About once a week someone would want tomeet me for coffee or chat on the phone about “going independent,” or improving their independent consulting practice. Recently I did two of these informational interviews in one week and I realized two important things:

  • I love talking with people about independent consulting and sharing what I know.
  • People tend to ask me the same questions.

I asked myself: How can I reach more people and help them live the life of a successful (profitable, healthy, happy) consultant so that they too can say “Everyone should be doing this!”?

So here we are.

I am here to help you. I will write about the topics that most interest you. I will inspire you to think and push yourself to be the best that you can be. I will write with your best interests in mind because I have already walked a thousand miles in your shoes. I will give my unvarnished opinions and share my battle-tested, practical advice, particularly on delicate subjects and “grey areas.” I will publish at least one blog post a week for at least one year. Because even though I hate to write, I love to see people succeed.

By reading this blog on a regular basis you will learn to:

  • Become a better consultant by fine tuning your skills
  • Think and act like a business
  • Market yourself more effectively and grow your business
  • Earn more money and keep more of what you earn!

Mostly I intend to write about whatever you are interested in, so enter a quick comment below and let me know!

Be your best,

—Liz S.

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