Are you ready to freelance? Part I in the Training Entrepreneurs Series
We are fortunate in the field of training and development to have the option of working either within an organization or for ourselves as either internal or external consultants. Many enter the field with the notion of one day transitioning to an independent practice, while others prefer the security of working for someone else. How do you know if you are ready to hang out your shingle? Entrepreneurial success consists of three essential components: timing, niche, and expertise.
Timing refers to where you are in your life, your career, and your motivation. Although there will likely never be a perfect time to start a business, many external consultants strike out on their own during a period of transition: job loss, early retirement, education completion, or changes in a family situation. Life transitions can serve as the impetus for change and maximizing the motivational value of a transition can provide the necessary “push” to start your own business.
Although there are consultants who offer a broad array of services, the trend today is to carve out a niche or specialization that is in demand. Technology offers many opportunities for consultants who are skilled in E-Learning design, virtual training, mobile training, and virtual reality. Opportunity also lies in more traditional areas. Training in customer service, sales, leadership, and safety are solid standbys that never go out of style. Others focus on a specific aspect of training design, like evaluation, or specialize in a particular field, like medicine or hospitality. A thorough examination of your interests and skills can guide you in identifying your niche.
Finally, consultants must be experts in their fields, bringing their knowledge, skills, and abilities to their clients. Consultants who transition from an established career are in high demand because they have demonstrated their expertise. Unless you have a highly developed skill set, or lots of moxie, business start-up with little prior experience is a challenge. If you are wondering if you are ready to take your talents on the road, take the brief Entrepreneurial Readiness Survey (URL below in Reference).
Entrepreneurial Readiness Survey: https://www.forbes.com/sites/larrymyler/2012/09/19/want-to-be-an-entrepreneur-take-this-test-to-see-if-youre-ready/#32319c334f7a
Questions for Discussion
- Have you considered a business start-up in training or another field? Why or why not?
- What are the rewards or benefits of working as an independent consultant? What are the negative aspects?