Looking back to the time when I first started my business back in October 2005, I was quite naive. At the time, I believed I was a competent and professional HR with a great track record. Surely that would be enough to launch my business in order to make a real difference to those manufacturing clients who didn’t have an in-house HR professional? After all, I had gained credibility working in the Pharmaceutical Industry and had led innovative change projects in a Pan European FMCG company.
It didn’t take me long for the realisation to hit home that there were more questions going around in my head than answers. This was an exciting but also a confusing time and I quickly learnt that I had to reach out to other like- minded entrepreneurs. At the time there were not that many people like me running their own HR Consultancy in South Wales.
So you think you would like to be your own boss running your own Consultancy? One of the first questions you should ask:
Is there a need?
You need to do your market research, look at creating a niche for yourself. Today there are some great examples of HR Consultants digging deep in the same furrow and doing very well in their niche market.
All too often I witness HR Consultants give up running their own business after a couple of years to go back to corporate land. Research has shown that many self-employed HR Consultants have left corporate land to find they are controlled by their client and the tax man. Often they feel isolated and miss being part of an organisation. They struggle with all the additional responsibilities being self-employed bring.
Sales and marketing – do I have a plan?
As a Consultant, your presentation and persuasion skills are key to delivering effective training sessions, coaching, mentoring and advice to their clients. Whatever field you specialise in you need to ensure you stay at the top of their game and in turn, contribute significantly to the success of your clients. Many HR Consultants do not understand the sales funnel and the sales process, dealing with objections and basically how to sell HR services to different type of clients. They are suddenly faced with networking which can often be very time consuming and also trying to get to grips with using social media to raise their profile and presence in the sea of HR Consultants that already exist.
Finance – do I know how to value my services and manage cash flow?
Many don’t value themselves in terms of their worth and can be busy fools. Thus, their charge rates often fall short of the market rate. Many Consultants are not fully versed with the need for managing cash flow. They also are not adept or comfortable at chasing outstanding debt. Often they end up doing interim work and then going through dry spells of work because they have done no marketing or business development during that time.
Operationally – what areas of my skills set do I need to develop further?
Many HR Consultants have a sound knowledge base, however, depending on their experience they may have gaps in their knowledge and experience in areas such as re-organisation, change management and TUPE to name a few. They worry about not having a sound board to talk about those “sticky issues.” They miss being part of a larger team and find themselves having to be very disciplined in organising their work even more so if they work from home. Also, they struggle when to cut off in the early days of starting a business and can underestimate the amount of time to fulfil a task as each client is different and it is not like working for one boss or one organisation. This can have an impact on their personal life.
Admin & Templates – do I have the fundamentals in place?
Once a HR Consultant launches they soon realise the need to have standard and master documentation. Keeping the documents up to date and regularly reviewing them in line with legislative changes. They also suddenly find they are writing proposals, service level agreements, diagnostic reports and lots of marketing paraphernalia to attract and retain clients. This can often be outsourced to someone like a Virtual Assistant who understands your area of work.
Personal development & keeping up to date – am I prepared to invest in myself?
One of the challenges of being freelance is the challenge of keeping up to date. When in a corporate role you might not think twice of attending a course costing £1,000 upwards – but when you are paying the fees yourself this is a different matter. My research shows that they want cost effective development. Coaching and Mentoring is something that they would value. They would relish the opportunity to come together bringing their issues to the table with like-minded people with the opportunity to collaborate sharing work and referring other specialists to their clients.
So if you are interested in learning more from me then reach out for a chat. Do you want to be one of the pioneers of a new Club for HR professionals? If you want to positively impact and transform the way HR is delivered please book today. Our aim is to engage you in a friendly community of HR professionals where we can support you to be the best you can be by sharing best practice and experience and provide you with the strategies and systems that you can implement immediately. Don’t feel you are alone – join us today.
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