Should I do consulting work while running a startup?
I was recently asked to do some consulting work. The extra income would be great, but wondering if the distraction is worth it in the long run. Has anyone else picked up consulting work on the side. I am curious to hear how it worked and if you found your business suffered or not.
You are in a better position because you provide services. So you should operate a virtual office. Where you don't have to bare the cost of running a brick and mortal business. You should also state my providing advisory services for free. For example, giving legal advise on a platform like mosaicHUB can help boost your profile and can bring potential clients to you who will be willing to pay for your services.
Consulting work is good if you think you are capable of doing and also extra income is an added advantage.Maintaining balance between the two is equally important to avoid distraction.Extra efforts needed for consulting if you can put the same, you can do consulting work side by side.
It is not worth it in the long run. You will take away time from your main goal and it could result in consulting as your main occupation, rather than your dream business.
I would do it depending on your available time and if it does not stress you unduly. It can only enhance your value to employers if you do a good job.
I think this is highly dependent on how well you can compartmentalize the two concerns while productively managing the relationship, the company's expectations of you, and the nature of the work. If it is something where you can assume a biweekly work schedule (on one or two weeks, off for one or two), then I think it could work out. Having a part-time position that is critical to the successful operation of your client's business could prove difficult and stressful to manage. Furthermore, managing the scope of the work so that you do not commit to additional responsibilities would also be something to be aware of as these can quickly erode the part-time status of the position and is an easy position to get yourself into if you're a competent and motivated individual.
Depending on the extent of this distraction I would look into taking it on board. The start up phase is always a tight line for survival and these not only help, but could create an additional revenue stream from which you could draw if times become lean.
Consulting is an odd game. I have worked as a freelance Credit Manager since 2000 and found it rewarding. However you have to be very careful with some companies and businesses to ensure their stability. Certainly in the Credit Control and Management sector, you are likely to be going in to companies who have a cash-flow issues and usually cretaed by a combination of poor accountancy, billing and also providing their counter-parties with lines of Credit which should not have been granted in the first place.
Bearing the above in mind, you have to look at the company you are going in to and assess the risk to yourself, whether you be working through their payroll or billing yourself. I often use an employment agency to work through in these unstable cases, as the last thing you want is to find that you having problems recovering your own fees as well as sort out the clients issues.
At the other end of the scale you have companies/businesses who are trading through a difficult situation but not realising, more to the point recognising that they are actually in more serious trouble than they are. Further getting them to admit that they have a problem in the first place.
Then you have the panic management type of corporation where they suddenly recognise that they are in difficulty, but expect you to go in, waive a magic wand and in 14 days their problems go skipping off " down the yellow brick road"; these can be the most annoying. Often they have this fixation with statistics and that the number of phone calls per hour is more efficient in collections as opposed to investigating the grounds for their clients default, some of which may be complex and therefore time consuming.
Then you have those who do not like long responses (such as this) which give in depth reasons and causes for that client's issues. Most clients will only want to hear good news, and not the fact that you are going to have reserve a significant part of the ledger for bad debt. The latter usually as a result of not underwriting their client for risk and down to a fixation with the mentality that if you throw as much rubbish against the wall, some will stick: a sale at any cost. However that sale has not taken place until the debt is paid.
Getting many sales, indeed directors to grasp that concept is increasingly difficult.
There is often a requirement to teach your client that for each loss they make, the cost of recovery is the value of sales paid to time and on the profit margin that they work to. That is to say if you are on a 5% margin; writing off £1000, actually means billing and receiving on due date, £20 000.
Consulting work can be very rewarding providing you are prepared to put up with nonesense from your client; and expect to have run-ins with both sales and directors relating to differences in opeartion as outlined above, a sale at any cost. Usually that is the cost of the life of the company. However to be able to show that the correct trading protocol gives a better return on a lower turnover is very rewarding when you can get the client to grasp that concept. To be able to say both to yourself and other people that you stopped that company from going under, or that you help a small business go in to the AIM part of the Stock Excange, indeed fully quoted PLC is very rewarding.
However expect rebuffs and being asked to leave becuase you are breaking bad news. The other issue is that there can be long breaks between contracts and you have to be in a position where you can service your own standard of living and service your own debts without going under yourself! It is not all as cosy as it seems: take your victim as you find them !
Running a start up may not leave you with enough time to do justice with consultancy.
if it can support your experience and does not effect your other project...go for it
Yes, why not. Doing consulting work will help you gain more insights and develop business connections. Learn how to balance, filter and choose projects that are related to your interests.
I, along with many other entrepreneurs I know, have consulted while building a startup. The main reason was to pay personal bills and support the family while the startup grows. It sounds like the consulting efforts you'll be performing aren't out of necessity but for extra income. Nothing wrong with wanting to make more money, but if your consulting takes off, then you will come to a point where you will need to decide ...startup v consulting. I doubt you'll be able to sustain both in the long-term. The last thing you want to do is take on too much work and not be able to adequately address the needs of both your consulting clients and your startup customers ...they both may leave you.
Obviously consulting takes time, which is time you could spend on building your startup. If the consulting income is more of a 'want' rather than a 'need', then why not spend that extra time in your startup?
Can your consulting be a service that your startup provides? If you can wrap your consulting efforts within your startup, then that would be the best of both worlds.
I would lean towards yes, but it depends on what your business is. For example, I build websites and do social media marketing. I do consult with my clients that I work on projects with, but there is nothing to stop me from consulting with people that I don't work on projects with. There is a whole other business you can tap into when you start creating content, courses, ebooks, etc that becomes all about selling what you know. You start to be seen as an expert by more and more people, and they pay you for it.
You cannot serve two masters!!! Think of it this way: is it okay to be married and have a mistress/gigolo on the side. Whatever you decide to do make a full commitment, do your best, give it your full attention and effort. Anything worth doing is worth doing well, not part time - full time is full time (24/7/365 on day off on leap year). If you don't love what you are doing find something that you love. If you love what you are doing you will never work a day in you live and your customers will love you. If what you love is money than be prepared for disappointment sooner or later but I assure you that no one will love you. This is from a man with knowledge and experience. Best wishes and God Bless.
Carrie, I would suggest that if the work is something you enjoy doing and that you can complete without using too much grey matter I would go for it. Starting a business is hard work but having something to just do that brings in some cash flow is always worth while. You can always take the time to come with strategies for your own business.
I say its a distraction. Ive helped several businesses go from zero to $1Million in 12 months. I promise you that its a distraction you do not need. If you have time for side work, then you have more time to devote to your startup. Learn a new system, market more, sell more, there is always more. The key to fast success is LAZER focus.
Hi Carrie, you gotten some very good suggestions and things to think about in answer to your question. At the end of the day I think that it really depends on what you want to come from the start-up and when you want that to happen. If you are in the start-up by yourself and you believe you have the bandwidth by all means go ahead. If you have a partner in the start-up only take it on if you have a clear understanding of the time that the consulting takes away from the start-up and what the consulting opportunity contributes to the start-up. If you are a self start-up and do not believe that you have the bandwidth find someone exceptional to take on the consulting for you. In that case the person that asked you will be happy based on your recommendation, the person who gets the contract will be appreciative of your confidence in them and you will, at the same time, set yourself up for future success with these individuals.
I will leave you with the words of Publilius Syrus who is thought to have said - "To do two things at once is to do neither". Just something to consider from a 1st century B.C. writer of Maxims.
Best wishes for success with your decision.
Richard Stern- When you start up a business you will find it takes all of your time to not only run your business, but to refine the policies and procedures to make your business effective and efficient.
Any distraction could effect your own business.
Suggest you spend all of your time to optimizing your business.
You should consider the returns you will get and the time taken while doing the consulting work pls . Wish you best of luck . Embark ON it
In my experience , this side stuff can work but not longer and bigger practices. Reason is simple , customer satisfaction comes by strong focus of service delivery. Moreover, many people I personally seen successful with side business but no doubt limited to some level . In sum up , I would like to say it all moves around your priorities of money, business & many more.