IT consulting: Is moving out on your own the right move?

Is it time to give up the work a day world and start your own consulting business? Experts weigh-in on the pros of cons of going your own way.

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Market volatility

Things happen that are out of your control. That's why having multiple clients is always the safest bet. "No consulting opportunity will be as stable as a full-time job. Project budgets get cut, new software options make implementations obsolete, and there are a lot of variables that could lead to a one-year consulting contract being shortened or all together terminated," Brosseau says.

It can get lonely

Understand going into tech consulting that for many jobs and contracts you will be working on your own with limited interaction. This can be tough on people who need the human connection of working in an office.

Are you financially ready?

There will never be a perfect time to make a move this big, but quitting your job with no cash to float you through the tough times has ended many dreams. Before you quit your full-time position, make sure you have clients lined up and a cash reserve to get you both through the startup phase and through the lean times.

Find a mentor

Finding a mentor to help you along the way can only increase your chance for success. Are any of your coworkers consulting on the side? Have you checked your social networks for friends who are consulting? You could also look into trade groups online where you can ask questions of other contractors. Here, for example, is a LinkedIn discussion on full-time employment versus IT contracting.

Consider doing both

Starting your own business working as a tech consultant can seem scary, which is why the perceived security of the full-time job can seem like a great path for those who can pull off working as a consultant while not give up your day job. However, you need to be acutely aware of your contractual obligations to your full-time employer specifically around intellectual property.

Another thing to keep in mind if you go this route: You need to be sure you aren't conducting any personal business on company time. Whether it's phone calls, company computers or emailing from work, it's a mistake that's sure to bite you. "You must steadfastly avoid conflicts of interest and be very careful to be able to devote both the required time and energy to both," Levine says.

Final thoughts

Being a consultant isn't for everyone. You need to be a jack of all trades and be able to learn quickly. It takes preparation, agility and the courage to hang your hat on your skill set and the ability to market yourself.

Consultants are necessary to get the job done and the need for them is not going away. Some of it comes down to critical timing. In other situations an organization might realize it will need a skill only during the implementation phase of a project and other times they simply need someone out of their internal hierarchy to separate the politics from getting the job done. There are opportunities out there -- you just have to be willing to go after them.

This story, "IT consulting: Is moving out on your own the right move?" was originally published by CIO.


Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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