Elisabeth has been in business for herself as an independent consultant for 15 years. She has a great blog post about it here: Happy Birthday Quality Tree Software. In the post, she describes the workload and the challenges. I’ve been an independent for about half as long as she has, about 7.5 years, and my experiences mirror what she describes. I too get queries from aspiring consultants who ask for advice. Elisabeth talks about long hours, hard work, and challenges. This quote in particular resonated with me: “The bottom line is that running a business, any business, is hard.”
If you are curious about going out on your own, this is a good piece to read. As a business owner, you are constantly looking at ways to be profitable, and dealing with challenges and changes in your environment. What do you do when you work very hard at a new revenue stream and it doesn’t work? What happens when a popular source of revenue loses favor in the market and you have to start over with something new? What do you do when people copy you, and your business model and a reliable source of revenue slows to a trickle because of market saturation? It is a balance of looking at your cashflow, looking at your financials and adjusting, taking risks, failing, succeeding, and adjusting some more. Also, a lot of what you do as a business owner is tedious – the logistics of running a business can be a big time sink, so you have to balance activities constantly to keep up with market forces. Elisabeth is correct, when you get it right, it is incredibly rewarding, but be prepared to put in time and effort, and to be able to motivate yourself through the boring parts, the low parts and the really hard parts. And sometimes, you have to reset your business and start over again.