One of the questions I get asked regularly by people considering starting an Independent HR Consultancy Practice is how they can tell if it would be right for them.
In the thirteen years since I started my business I have come across a lot of HR Professionals who think about moving into freelancing or setting up their own HR Practice – some seriously consider it, others just toy with the idea on those “Is this really my life?” days but never really get any further than that.
It’s not surprising really – if there is a group of people who know exactly how much of a myth the concept of job security is then it is HR Professionals.
So here are a couple of things to think about if this a move you are considering …..
Do you have the financial resources in place?
One of the great things about the advances in technology over the past 5 – 10 years is the way it has lowered the entry bar for people who want to start their own business. There is a sense that anyone with a reasonably good idea, a mobile phone and access to a coffee shop can start a successful business. However, I would strongly recommend you set up a proper home office, not like I did in the early days using the kitchen table before I could transform a bedroom into a home office.
While it is true that you no longer (usually) need tens of thousands to get started up, you do still need to have adequate financial resources in place. Your business may not achieve a good income for at least 6 – 12 months and you will need to be able to meet – or alter – your financial commitments during this time. Be clear on the start up costs you will incur – and there will be some, even if you are working from home. A lot of fledgling businesses fail in their first year because of cash flow problems, make sure that yours isn’t one of them.
Are you sufficiently self-disciplined?
This may seem like a really obvious one, but most of us have never really had to test it out. We have spent our lives working to deadlines which are set for us, having other people waiting for us to complete tasks, knowing that it will be noticed if we don’t hit our targets, all of a sudden these boundaries that we barely noticed were there are gone and it can be disorientating and send us into a ‘busy but not productive’ cycle that gets us nowhere.
How do you feel when people say No?
As employees we rarely feel personally rejected when someone says they don’t want what we are offering, but as a Business Owner this can be a significant issue. We have created something we believe is needed and when someone says they don’t want it, or that it is too expensive this can be really difficult to take. Sometimes people are so terrified of having someone say No that they never get around to actually offering to sell them anything. They just vaguely allude to the services they can provide and hope the potential client will do the rest of the work – they won’t. Resilience is a core strength and often becomes your best friend in terms of a bounce back from a rejection.
Do you know how to set up and close a sale?
They don’t usually cover this one in HR training unfortunately. Most of us don’t have the first idea how to sell. We believe that if we are good at what we do and we tell people about it then they will want it and the money will somehow arrive in our bank account.
This is not surprising at all – after all this is how money has always arrived for us. Be good at your job and you will be financially rewarded for it – that has always been the message. We sub-consciously take this same expectation with us when we start a Business – but there are a few more steps and stages involved and we need to do what we did when we went into HR in the first place – take action to get a new set of essential skills.
I think this was my biggest learning curve when starting out; I had to learn about sales & marketing and finance for my business. The holy trinity of management is operations, sales & marketing and finance. You will never be great at all three and I hated the time spent on doing my books and I quickly realised to outsource was a much better use of my time and resources, not to mention saving my sanity!
There are lots of other things to think about but that’s enough to be getting on with. Asking yourself those questions – and being really honest with yourself about the answers will give you a good indication of whether or not this is a good move for you.
In my experience you will need to feel really drawn to the idea of working for yourself in order to be able to stick with it on the tough days. If it is just about getting away from the daily grind of work then it will be much more difficult for you to sustain.
Personally I love it, I can’t ever imagine going back to working for someone else, I wouldn’t change it for the world and I promise you that if you look at the pros and cons, go into it intentionally and put the work in, it will repay you a hundred-fold in ways that you can’t even imagine.
“Your positive action combined with your positive thinking results in success.” Shriv Khera
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