As an owner of a talent development business, I’m often asked for advice about “going solo” or how to become a training or talent development consultant. Many people who consider this option are unsure about how to make the decision to take the leap into business ownership and what they should consider.
The buzz about the gig economy is fueling the excitement of going solo. Good news: The timing is right. Here are three reasons why.
Supply Is up
Many training professionals have a desire for job satisfaction and a sense of purpose. Working 9 to 5 in “just” a job is less desirable to many members of the millennial generation, who are looking for work that gives purpose and meaning to life while also offering a good salary, flexibility and autonomy. It’s also less desirable to baby boomers who want to shift into a new stage in their career, leave a meaningful legacy or work in a more flexible way. There is a strong desire to go solo, but many don’t know how to get started.
Demand Is up
With the gig economy upon us, and given rapid changes in demographics and advances in technology, organizations want to engage with talent in profoundly new ways. Freelancing is one of the keys to success in the new economic world order. Businesses count on independents to help them create a more agile workforce. External consultants and contractors can provide expertise on demand without incurring the overhead costs of steady salaries and benefits.
Credibility Is up
Consulting is more respected than ever, and freelancing is viewed as a win for companies and talent development professionals alike. “Solopreneurs” often have access to comparable and better salaries than if they worked inside a company. A 2016 McKinsey report on the gig economy found that 75 percent of consultants were making more than or the same amount they did in a traditional role. Many solopreneurs have a profitable six-figure (or more) income.
If you’re thinking about going solo this year (or in the near future), here are three of the questions you should ponder first.
Is Being an Entrepreneur Right for Me?
There are advantages and disadvantages to striking out on your own. While some are common and universal, each of us has a set of unique circumstances that that impact the decision that’s best for us. Some things to consider include your financial constraints or readiness and your ability to think like a business owner with a marketing mindset.
Should I Jump in with Both Feet, or Start a Side Hustle to Test the Waters?
What’s cool about our current economy is that there’s no one-size-fits-all way to make your career successful. As Dorie Clark describes in her book “Entrepreneurial You,” you can be entrepreneurial while holding a full- or part-time job. You can achieve excellent results building a successful side hustle while maintaining your corporate job. There are many ways to work. Find a way that makes sense for you, and pivot as you learn.
Do I Want a Multi-service or Narrow Niche Offering?
My first published article as a new business owner back in 2006 was titled “To Niche or Not to Niche, That Is the Question” and it’s still relevant. While there’s not one way right to do it, the Long Tail Economy (as described in Chris Anderson’s book “The Long Tail”) allows us to target an ever-narrower audience and still experience growth. With online marketing and social media, you can build a thriving tribe of raving fans who find you and your services a perfect match.
While going solo is not suitable for everyone, many training and talent professionals find satisfaction and joy in starting and growing their own business. As the gig economy and workplace changes continue to evolve, being independent will be of greater benefit and in greater demand. By thinking about your own readiness and situational constraints, you will be able to make the right decision. And by adopting a more entrepreneurial mindset and approach, the time to begin experimenting may well be now.
So, what are you waiting for?
Download the free e-book “Career Pathways in Learning and Development: Perspectives and Strategies for Your Training Career”: