(This is a contributed post)
In a fast-changing and ever-evolving technological landscape, the world of IT is rife with opportunity. There are a wealth of jobs out there for skilled developers and IT professionals who want to lend their skills, knowledge and experience to the free market. For those who have laboured in corporate IT jobs for years and yearn for more freedom and autonomy, there’s a lot of scope out there to join the ranks of the freelance IT consultants who can (and do) make good money providing bespoke, impartial advice to businesses to help them improve their operational efficacy and efficiency.
If you have the knowledge, experience, skills and contacts to become a consultant, the good news is that you can start laying the foundations of a successful consultancy right now. Here are some tips to help you to establish yourself so you can transition seamlessly away from your day job and towards the rewarding and potentially lucrative life of a consultant…
Start putting the feelers out now… but tread carefully
Throughout your career, you’ve probably built good working relationships with people who could become tomorrow’s high-paying clients. These people know your skills and your work ethic and get along with you. So why not try sending out some emails, letting them know you’re thinking of becoming an independent consultant and asking them for some honest feedback. Just be wary of making it look too much like you’re hustling. If your present employers catch wind of it they probably won’t take kindly to it.
Choose your niche
You likely have a broad portfolio of IT skills. But as is the case when setting up any small business, it’s important to know your niche and how best to cater to it. Do you want to help businesses adopt Scrum values? Do you want to cater to a particular niche or sector? The better you know who you’re trying to market to, the more you can focus on how you will deliver outcomes that are appealing to them.
Remember, if you’re moonlighting your income is still taxable
By all means dedicate some of your weekends, evenings or paid holiday time to doing the odd consulting job as a side hustle. Just be aware that even though your paying tax on your day job, your income from consulting is still taxable.
Be sure to educate yourself on your tax liability and use free resources like this GST calculator to accurately gauge your profit and loss for your freelancing activities. The last thing you need is to start your nascent consultancy business with a massive tax bill or fine.
Charge what you’re worth
Finally, no matter how long and successful your career has been in the salaried world, you may go into the freelance market doubting your value. Even the most accomplished IT professional can find themselves experiencing impostor syndrome. Nonetheless, it’s vital that you resist the urge to undercut your competitors on price. Otherwise your new business will start off on the back foot and it’ll take much longer to become profitable.