No matter which way you look at it, the pandemic shuffled the current workforce. Not only did 114 million people lose their jobs over the course of 2020 (according to the World Economic Forum), but many of those who stayed employed are rethinking everything. One in four American workers are thinking about quitting their jobs, according to CBS News. The change in work structure and the work itself has many wondering if they will be happier and better off running their own business. And, for those who were laid off or furloughed, striking out on their own looked like a great option for the interim.
Many previous executives or corporate workers have instead set their sights on launching their own independent consultancies. It’s a win-win: businesses need outside consultants to help with restructuring their day-to-day in the aftermath of the pandemic, and adjust their operations for maximum efficiency. More talented, highly skilled consultants are on the market than ever before, looking to share their talents independently, outside the realms of a typical corporation.
Rocio Brusseau and Laura Marella, the CMO and CEO (respectively) of Overflow, talk about this trend and how to make the most of it. Overflow is a resource-packed accelerator for independent thinkers who own consultancies or who are looking to start one. If starting an independent consultancy has caught your eye, here’s how to hit the ground running.
1. Build A Brand For Your Consultancy
First things first: brands are what stick. People are, on average, four to six times more likely to work with or purchase from a company that’s value-driven. According to Strategy Marketing Agency, branding is how you’ll stand out from the competition, and is how you stay in the driver’s seat of how others perceive you. Many wonder if building out their personal brand is the best approach to branding for an independent consultancy, but Brusseau and Marella say otherwise.
“Make sure the brand you create is separate from yourself. That’s the only way to not make anything business related too personal and create room for growth from the beginning, involve collaborators and find a way to engage with clients that transcend the people you already know,” explained Brusseau.
As for how to communicate your brand and use it in your marketing efforts, Marella encourages to “enthusiastically share “bite size” samples of your thinking, your offerings, your approaches on a regular basis with your network through podcasts, blogs, articles, linkedIn posts, etc. Content that builds out your brand in the minds of potential clients will attract them to you for projects.”
2. Find Tools And Community That Can Help You
For as wonderful as it can be to go out on your own and begin a consultancy, Brusseau and Marella warn that it can be lonely and isolating – especially if you were in the corporate world for a while and you’re used to having that team camaraderie and support. “It’s not only isolation from other people that you used to work with and missing collaborating with others on a continuous basis. It is also about losing access to resources you took for granted, like research and information, losing the platform for visibility that your title and your company gave you,” Brusseau reflected on her own switch to independent business.
A fix? Platforms like Overflow that offer those resources. “The only platform that has been built with the needs of independent consultants in mind is Overflow, an accelerator that provides consultants with the resources of research, visibility and scale, personal and professional development and access to business opportunities on their own terms, that is, to stay and thrive as independents,” Brusseau noted. It’s also important to surround yourself with people who get it and who are on their own solopreneurship journeys. Consider networking groups with other founders, or entrepreneur meet-ups – places where you can get support and offer it.
3. Embrace The New Mindset
Brusseau and Marella refer to it as the “indie” mindset: the mindset of independent consultants who have gone out on their own. The sooner you can embrace this and set yourself up for success with the tools and community, the better. This can include a confidence boost, too. “Don’t continue thinking as a corporate / company guy doing this as a transition between jobs. Set up yourself for success by believing in what you are doing, enjoying your freedom and the possibilities of being unique. Nobody has the combination of your experience, your expertise and being you,” said Brusseau.
Lean into what makes you you, and extend this in your brand. You now have the freedom to present yourself however you like, and to hand pick the clients you want to work with. Take this on, fully, knowing that while being an independent consultant isn’t without its challenges, it also marks true freedom, self expression, and opportunity.