Podcast

Episode: 382 |
Panel Discussion:
Becoming Independent:
Episode
382

HOW TO THRIVE AS AN
INDEPENDENT PROFESSIONAL

Panel Discussion

Becoming Independent

Show Notes

 

In today’s episode, I host a panel discussion with Jennifer Hartz, J. Andrew McKee, Jay Altizer, and Ashutosh Dalvi. They share insights, advice, and their own story on taking the leap from a comfortable salaried position to becoming an independent consultant.

Key points include:

  • 01:13: The decision to become an independent consultant. 
  • 08:40: The positives and negatives of the transition
  • 14:32: Advice to those making the transition
  • 21:22: Cash flow and workflow
  • 25:40: People who should not go independent

 

You can connect with members on the panel through LinkedIn.

 

One weekly email with bonus materials and summaries of each new episode:

Will Bachman 00:02
Hello, and welcome to Unleashed the show that explores how to thrive as an independent professional. So today is an experiment. It’s a new type of episode for us here at Unleashed, we got a panel discussion with four members of Umbrex, where a senior executive reached out to me the other day, she’s thinking about leaving a well paid corporate role and trying to think about, you know, how to make that decision whether to go independent or not. And rather than just giving my own point of view, I thought it’d be interesting to put together an episode of, you know, a variety of Umbrex members to provide different perspectives on how to think through that decision process. So that’s the goal for today, thinking about how do you make that decision to go independent? What are the factors to consider what are some of the possible downsides of going independent? And let’s let’s start off so My guests today are Jennifer Hart’s Jay Altizer, Andrew McKee and OSU Tosh, Davi. So thank you all for joining. Why don’t we start with Jennifer, Jennifer, tell us about your decision to become an independent professional.

Jennifer Hartz 01:13
So I’m what they call the accidental entrepreneur. I had had corporate roles prior and did a couple of tours of duty at McKinsey. And I left McKinsey for a.com, which boomed and busted all in the period of 20 months. And bear I was three and a half children. And nothing, no money, no job. So I, luckily, folks around the community of corporate social responsibility and philanthropy reached out and said, Hey, I had one, one client one. One company reached out to me to hire me. And I was not in any position to fake a job at that time. And I said, Well, you know, I’ll do a project for you. And I did that. And then somebody else reached out and said, I have a project for you. Do you want to do it? So finally, I thought, I think I’m supposed to make a company. Yeah, got him a company called my friend, the attorney made a company. And that was in the year 2000. So I’m in my 21st, year of independent consulting.

Will Bachman 02:26
Okay, so that’s the somewhat accidental route of finding your and that’s a that’s a common story. Some people they leave one job for whatever reason, and they are maybe looking for a new role. And they start getting offered independent consulting gigs, and they like it, one leads to another. And 21 years later, they’re still doing it. Yeah. Andrew, let’s turn to you. Tell. Tell us about your story. How did you get into the independent world?

Andrew McKee 02:54
Yeah, thanks for the question. And Glad to be here. So I was for me, starting from I think values and personal priorities. I was privileged to have a lot of great previous jobs. But I was on a kind of an ambitious treadmill sort of schedule for myself, and it just wasn’t working with my wife and I were having young children. And we didn’t want to delegate the parenting, and didn’t have any family in the vicinity. I also have a lot of creative and other entrepreneurial projects where I just didn’t see like, what’s frankly, become an arms race and white collar work, which is like, you don’t work 40 hours you work 60 to 80, if you want to make it in blah, blah, blah, and you want to run this. So I was just like looking at these options, they felt pretty unsavory. So one was, so there’s like value slash personal priorities was a very big one. Second was related with needing flexibility. And third was a dash of adventure. I had kind of tried some of the things and quit in the past. So I think I didn’t have some of the hang ups that some people have if there’s maybe like my fifth thing that I tried and like, majorly changed in my life. So it was like, Yeah, I felt like I even the job I had before I quit. That’s great job build a lot of great relationships actually led a lot to. And it’s been a great experience I had, but it just wasn’t working for me. And I guess the last thing I’ll say is that I kind of joined that job knowing that I wasn’t gonna be there forever, because I felt like there were a lot of things about corporate jobs that just weren’t that appealing to me. So.

Will Bachman 04:27
Okay, so I was there for now. Yes, there’s some elements of sounds like it was a more deliberate decision than Jennifer, it was, you know, wanting to have more control over your schedule, some values around taking care of your kids and being able to maybe travel less. And also point out to you, I know where, before you went into consulting, were a jazz musician, right. So you, you had some somewhat, you know, slightly non traditional paths before you went into consulting. Let’s start with Jay. Jay, what? How did you get into the independent consulting world?

Jay Altizer 05:05
Look, my route was akin to Jennifer’s I had been running a business I was a general manager was restructured out after that company was, was sold. And, you know, I really didn’t, it wasn’t deliberate. A friend of mine who ran strategic planning at a company knew that I was out and he called up and said, Hey, if you’d rather, you rather work than mope around your house, your bunny slippers, you know, turn up here next week, and I’ve got some stuff I’d like you to work on. And that would be so I was working as an independent within a month of being released and then, and then, you know, I and then I started to develop business and call her people. And maybe it may be a twist on it, from my perspective would be I use my practice, actually, to avoid taking some jobs. And I’m really glad and take for a three year period. So you know, my practice went well. And even though it was it sort of a deliberate move that certainly from a family perspective, and a flexibility perspective, and it really helped us out for a period of time before I then went and took another operating job.

Will Bachman 06:28
And then you took that job, and you’re back to independent consultant.

Jay Altizer 06:33
Okay, yeah. So, yeah, so I ran another division of a company for two years, which was we were having a great run, we were making significant changes to that business and running a transformation. And then that that kind of came crashing down, because the effects of COVID on that industry, and then again, you know, similarly, I really didn’t deliberately, at first, put my shingle out, but you know, former clients called back up and I started having conversations with people and you know, I’m maybe eight months out or something like that, and I’ve probably done I’m on my 10th or 12th project, probably my fourth or fifth client, and which is just mostly it’s just relationships, like I have been extremely, extremely fortunate.

Will Bachman 07:29
Also, Tosh Ashutosh, tell us a little bit about your practice, you know, where you came from, and how you got into this. Sure.

Ashutosh Dalvi 07:37
So my practice is focused on strategy and operations, I’m looking to help clients bring their strategy and operations to drive growth. I have a really unusual career, I was a consultant right out of undergrad, then was a lawyer for five years doing intellectual property law, went back to consulting and was just at a point in my career where I wasn’t getting to do the things that I wanted, I wanted more control over the types of clients, I worked with the type engagements I was on and talk to a few people in the Umbrex community that I had known from various stops in my career. And that’s what really planted the seed in my head to go out on my own. And I thought about it, and I felt like it was the right challenge for me at this point in my career. Okay.

Will Bachman 08:27
And what have you found in terms of the transition about Was there any surprises to have things that you weren’t expecting? And you know, either positive or negative about the transition? Yeah, I,

Ashutosh Dalvi 08:40
you know, I had people tell me that you’re going to feel really high highs, really low lows. And that can shift from day to day. And I didn’t really believe that until I started out on my own. You know, there are days where you meet a bunch of people and have great conversations. And then there’s a couple of days where it’s kind of quiet. And I think, what I what I enjoy about it is really the networking piece, and getting to know people and and what they are doing, what I miss about being in a larger place is having that person in the room next to you that you can talk to go get a coffee with, but I think having a community like this is really helped out, filling that void.

Will Bachman 09:28
All right, thanks. Some other things that I’ve heard from other consultants I’ve talked to over time are some people get into independent consulting, because they have some other significant activity. They want to spend, you know, a significant chunk of their time on. So for some people that might be a musical career. on this show, I interviewed Effie Zang, who left McKinsey and was, you know, part of her time she was writing songs and record writing songs. Some people, you know, we have a member of the Umbrex community who’s writing novels. Some people have a startup that they want to do on the side, but maybe it’s not taking their full time. So they do independent consulting, while they’re funding their startup, or some people have a our caregivers, and they may either have kids or taking care of, or elderly parents, or some other situation like that. And they’re able to devote some part of each day to, to the consulting business consistently, but they need some extra time is another common reason that, you know, I haven’t heard from this group, which is just simple, like bad luck. At some firms, you can be a distinctive top ranked consultant. And you’re building your program for partner. And I’ve heard this from various folks a similar story. We’re an associate partner at McKinsey, let’s say he’s on track to make partner, they have two core clients. And then one of those clients gets a new CEO, and that CEO doesn’t like McKinsey, or just doesn’t like consulting and basically shuts down all the projects. And poof, all of a sudden, the person’s platform for election, a partner has just gone, right. Or they could have some other program, but it would mean commuting to Zurich every week, and they just aren’t up for that. So that that’s kind of a story that I’ve heard before about how people make the decision, you know, highly capable consultant, but just something, you know, kind of some car accident kind of happened to their to that election. Some cons that I hear, I’d love to hear folks, you know, share some of the pros and the cons. Some of the cons that I hear are, if you don’t manage it properly, you know, I, it is possible that shifting into an independent professional role could hurt your career, if you are interested in getting back on the corporate ladder at some point. That’s not necessarily true. But there could be a perception that you’re damaged goods, or that you did it because you couldn’t get a real job or you got fired or something. And that’s why you’re doing this. So, you know, if you want to, you know, eventually go back to the corporate, then you want to make sure that you’re really branding yourself properly, that you have solid projects to show, you know, future employers and have solid references and so forth, if that’s a transition you want to make, on the pro side, and I think Jay alluded to this is that consulting actually can be a pathway into one of those roles, where it’s a way to test out different employers and rather than date a little bit before you get married, and have employers test you out. And sometimes they might be reluctant to hire someone directly into a, you know, senior level full time role that they don’t know well, but it’s a chance for employers to get to know you, and you know, potentially transition you into a role. So a lot of people end up doing independent consulting for a while they find a client they like and they go take some C level role there. One other downside I’ll mention, and I’ll turn it back to the group here is that professional development, you need probably to have more intentional focus on that, then you do if you’re at a consulting firm or in a role where you might have mentors and so forth, you got to take on that burden yourself. And one final thing is, as an independent, you need to take the responsibility to build a full infrastructure for a firm. So even though you want to be a consultant, you’re also setting up invoicing and billing and insurance and LLC, and taxes, and dealing with health insurance and business insurance and setting up your email and your domain and your website and your collateral. And it’s a lot of different things to be responsible for when maybe you just prefer to be a consultant. So that’s something to be aware of, that you have to take care of all that. Let’s hear from the group about if someone was asking you a friend of yours, who’s let’s say a senior vice president, making a nice, decent, comfortable salary of, you know, exceptional salary, let’s say 400 $500,000 a year doing very well is thinking about making this transition. What are some of the questions that you might ask the person or the advice that you’d give? Jennifer? Oh, all right.

Jennifer Hartz 14:32
Jennifer hearts, I’ll take that. One of the problems of being a sole practitioner or challenges of being a sole practitioner is being sold. So Ellie, that means it’s just you, man, and therefore, you know, what we’ll just said is you have to build this infrastructure around you. So in my space, I collected graphic designers and beep beep research And branding, you know, all sorts of people who are experts in their field, to bring them in, as a consultant to corporate hearts, let them do their thing and move on. The second thing that I have is a bunch of thought leaders that I call and I say I’m, I’m stuck. Help me out. One of those thought leaders are folks from Umbrex. And some of them are folks from just the world in my life. So that is really, really important. I happen to not be an extrovert, but especially if you’re an extrovert, you need to make sure there are folks around you to engage with.

15:50
Yeah, absolutely. I totally agree.

Will Bachman 15:52
So important, Andrew, go ahead.

Andrew McKee 15:55
Sorry. Yeah, I was so excited to jump in. I agree. I would also ask questions around what, what are the individual strengths and or areas of passion and curiosity? Because I think, even give me reasons we just mentioned about why people go independent. I mentioned flexibility and a lot of other ones. That’s not sufficient, in my opinion. And you can, in other words, if you just want flexibility, but it turns out, you don’t like to do all the legwork to build a book of business and do sales slash marketing, then that’s going to be difficult, right? So I think it’s, again, for us to figure out what are you passionate about? Because I think it also might try to answer when your earlier questions will, that I think if you follow what’s, what you’re passionate about, and what the market is asking you to work on, meaning your clients, I think you’ll continue to stay relevant. Because in my case, I’ve really never thought about that. But I’ve actually built it. So right now, I forgot some overview. But we have roughly 10 folks on a roll, and another half dozen client facing contractors and over half dozen back office people that had and, and in which was sort of tenure, growth, trajectory moving growing modestly all this time. But I’ve built out experience in some functions that I never worked in, basically, like, including commercial, but I’ve had the privilege of hiring excellent people with all the right credentials. And then by osmosis, and by supervising, I’ve learned a ton, that I could go into a commercial role. And I’m in the biotech and med device, side, basically product side of healthcare. So I always recommend that that’s a way to keep the door open if you want to. And I encourage you to be relevant. Because if you’re you’re following the market, as well, as often said, on this podcast, and sometimes other guests, if you’re following making about the what the clients need, and that what you only need, then you’re much more likely to stay relevant, and adapt where that adaptation is required.

Will Bachman 17:47
How about you, Jay? What, what sort of questions or challenges would you give to a friend of yours? Who is thinking about going independent?

Jay Altizer 17:57
Of course, look, number one would be it’s business development, I think that’s a big, you don’t really have to do that. When you’re in a corporate role. You’re what you’re the work comes to you. And business development is the source of a lot of the highs and lows we’ve talked about. And you just sort of have to have that habit and build some habits that keep your relationships, current and fresh. And you need something to say and that that’s a really big differentiator, I think, between people who are ultimately comfortable either starting firms overseas or, or going out on their own and not and so that I think that’s, that’s something that’s important to think about ahead of time is, you know, can I get the habit, the business development habits, and I’m going to be comfortable, just, you know, finding reasons to communicate with people that when I’m really not selling, I’m just trying to develop those relationships. And then we’ll come into some other things to be aware of would be certainly, at least the way I’ve run my practice, right? It’s the cash flow is all over the place. So maybe I should listen to some other podcasts and you may have some invoicing tips for me well, but you know, I’ll go you know, you know, a couple of months and not not see much come in, and then I’ll have you know, six figure receipt. So the cash flow part is sort of all over the place. And that’s another thing that you just, if you can get comfortable with that, or no, that’s kind of how it’s going to go. I think that’s, I think that’s helpful. And hey, one point of clarification you talked about in your, in your setup the the pros vs. Cons of, you know, if you wanted to go back into a corporate role if you wanted to go back into a corporate role how you handle your independent period? Since I’ve done that, I’ve seen both sides of that. So I certainly, you know, my phone rings for certain kinds of opportunities that are, I think there because of my, my independent consulting work. But look, I’ve also had the situation where, you know, x p fun or x person calls up and says, Hey, are you really a general manager? Or you’re a consultant, then, you know, I get the other side of it, too. So I don’t know that that always plays out the same way.

Will Bachman 20:35
Yeah. I should actually have anything to add to that.

Ashutosh Dalvi 20:39
Yeah, I think a couple of things. So questions that I would ask are, what are you trying to accomplish by going out on your own? And then what is your risk tolerance? Because there are some people who are going to say, I’m gonna hang in this thing for six months, or a year or a couple of years? Because I’m really going to try to make it work. But I think that’s an honest question that you have to ask yourself, because, as Jay just pointed out, you know, there are times when you have a significant cash flow, and there are other times where the cash flow, isn’t that great. And and can you become comfortable with that? So those are a couple questions. I would ask anyone thinking about going this route?

Jennifer Hartz 21:22
Yeah. It’s not just a cash flow. It’s the workflow. Right, right. Especially in the sole practitioner model, right? I’m always in a position of, Oh, no, I have too much work. And oh, no, I have not enough work. Because, yeah, mostly just me.

Jay Altizer 21:37
Yeah, hey, what’s your spouse gonna be with it? Like, my, my wife, Amy has been fantastic. She’s a professor at SMU, and, you know, the first year, I think it, it made her nervous, but like, over time, you know, we’ve kind of figured out, hey, it kind of works out. And we’ve certain certain when I’m working like this, I try to make sure that I’m really communicating a lot about here’s that pipeline and sort of what she’s,

Will Bachman 22:09
yeah, the the couple things. And this one is, we have several people have mentioned this piece about, you got to be comfortable about how a good part of your job is the business development declined development side of it, sales if you want to be direct. And that’s actually very hard to predict. So when I left McKinsey, as a gauge manager, I had never, you know, sold work on my own, right? We’re even been that closely involved with with that piece of it. And so I had no experience at it. Um, it turns out that I really enjoy that aspect of building relationships with people seeing if we, you know, I could be helpful. And that part’s a lot of fun. And I had no idea. I’m a super strong introvert. And, you know, I don’t like being in big crowds, but I enjoy that piece of it. And so now, it’s, it’s hard to predict. So even if you think, Oh, well, I’ve never done that. And I, you know, I don’t have any experience, it’s almost if you haven’t done it, it’s really hard to say, whether you like it, and even if you have done it in the context of a big firm, you can say, oh, as a partner at, you know, name your big firm, it’s very different in the independent world. And you might be great at it at a global consulting firm, and struggle as an independent because you had your brand behind you. Or you may have struggled at the big firm, but but do fantastic selling your own work. The And to your point Ashutosh about risk tolerance. One thing I’d say is, some people get into this, and they say, Well, I’m just gonna test the waters, you know, I’m gonna see how it goes for a few months and just, you know, see if I get any traction, and I think that’s a totally wrong approach, that half measures do not work. And it’s, it’s a little bit of, you know, Yoda here, it’s like, you know, there is no try that if you’re gonna do this, you, you know, some people do the half measures, you know, after three, four months, they don’t get traction, they say, Well, you know, I didn’t get traction, I’ll go get a job. But that’s because they haven’t taken it seriously. And come up with a name for your firm a domain for your firm built a website built collateral updated their LinkedIn profile, you know, really got their positioning straight, maybe had some a firm overview page reached out to people, you know, set up a CRM system, set up outreach, had calls. If you treat it like a real firm, like a professional, you’re in like, you’re serious about it, and you’re in for the long term. People are going to take you a lot more seriously. Clients consents, if you’re just, you know, maybe doing it and no client wants to hire a consultant who is, you know, likely to be out of the space in six months, right? Because Cuz they want someone they’ve invested in you, there’s some opportunity cost into that project. And there’s, even though they’re paying you dollars, they’re also paying an opportunity cost, it could be getting another consultant up to speed on their company, and they want, there at least be a reasonable chance that you’re around a year from now. So clients can sense if you if you’re taking half measures on this. One question for the group is, who should not go independent? If you’re talking to a friend? And you heard x? What? What would that x be for you to say, well, this probably is not the right path for you.

Ashutosh Dalvi 25:40
Well, I’m just going to echo what you spent a few minutes talking about, if I heard someone said, say, I’m going to try this out. I’m not really sure I want to see how it goes. I’ll give it a little bit of time and then decide, I think, I would say, you should really reconsider whether or not you want to do this. Everyone that I talked to, before I decided to go out on my own, gave me the same advice, like you really have to jump with both feet in. I think I got that statement backwards or a little bit wrong. But you know, you can’t, you can’t just you have to really be committed to doing this and giving it a shot as a legitimate shot before you decide whether or not you want to stick with it. And I what I would say is the way that I’ve done that for myself is set goals for three months, six months, 12 months, and I keep revisiting them to make sure that I’m on track and really putting in the effort that I need to be putting in.

Will Bachman 26:39
What sort of goals do you set?

Ashutosh Dalvi 26:42
I mean, something as simple as, how many? How many articles do I want to write or how many blog post so I want to publish on LinkedIn in the next month? Who are the people that I want to talk to in the next two weeks? How many? How many events have I participated in, which was a lot easier pre pandemic, but even simple things like that, which seem, you know, very straightforward, and basic, are little goals that you can help to make sure you’re moving in the right direction and sticking with sticking with the plan.

Will Bachman 27:19
So I love those process metrics that you’re talking about, it’s very hard to control the output or the outcomes, right? It’s hard for us to control how many projects we’re actually going to get or the revenue that we’re going to achieve. But the things that you can control how many outbound calls are going to make to clients? You know, how many? How many posts Am I going to put on LinkedIn or white papers produced? Or, you know, those kind of things that are under your control, I feel are much better things to have KPIs around other than just Oh, I didn’t hit the metric my for my revenue, so beat myself up. But there’s nothing actionable around that. What else what Who? Who else would you say, don’t take this route like this is not for you, Andrew,

Andrew McKee 28:07
around jumping? echo something nice that Jennifer said earlier around in there is an entrepreneurial element to going independent. And maybe it is worth distinguishing like the transitional independence, which I see are very common. Now there used to whereas it used to be a stigma, say 20 years ago of people being in between jobs, or maybe having been let go and being a temporary consultant versus like really going to you’re going to do this for like 234 or five years. Other things. So I would say there is a bit of, you know, there’s a lot of science, about genetics and some aptitudes and things that not to say certain people can’t do this. But you have to be I think, be comfortable with uncertainty, as flipped around. If someone is really comfortable, the regularity in their job, whether it’s time, people environment. I mean, it’s not none of these are deal breakers, but these are going to be like weighing against you. That’s one. Second is if you’d like staying with one discipline or one function, maybe like to hone that constantly. You could do that in the meta level with consulting, like maybe you’re you’re honing sales, and you’re hunting, marketing or client delivery, you can hone and craft in that way. But you can’t be like, Okay, I’m just gonna do widgets in this one way, for 10 years. Some people actually like to do that. And it’s very secure and comforting for them. Another thumbs down for being independent. And then finally, there’s the uncertainty. There’s this double edged I don’t mean to riff on the sales part too much, but I think there’s the double edged sword of sales and business development like and I agree with real like, you may not know until you try it, or you might mind your past experiences. Like in my case, I’d seen client delivery with McKinsey, but I never been on the sales side. I didn’t get very senior at McKinsey, but I had built a music performance business where I had to make gigs happen. I do employ people and mostly contractors but you know, but once you try it, there’s a double edged thing. I think people who like land in business, it’s usually like a sale you get a sales endorphin rush right was like, like I find a lot. I really liked being accountable. Like, and we’re still mostly a one part, we’re kind of like a two and a half partner firm. Right now we have a head of Japan, and we have some senior people in my team now, but I’m still driving a lot of business. And that actually feels really good for me. But for many people that like that I talked to my personal life, like, oh, gosh, I would never want a job like that like, because that could be a lot of pressure to some people. For me, it’s fun, and it’s adventure. And that’s another reason I might have forgotten mentioned that I quit my job was that I wanted a bit more variety. And that’s the last thing is, well, that’s another reason I forgot to mention is the variety of learning that many people even in very so called exciting corporate jobs will just be doing one function or one product for even a fast timescale, like two years, if not longer. Whereas, you know, even as a sole proprietor, you could do like 610 different projects over the course of a year. And I think it’s, again, that may not be for everybody, but I like that kind of stuff. So, yeah,

Jennifer Hartz 30:54
I did an experiment, I tried to have somebody else who lived in Florida, to do the business development in Florida. For me, this was around the time that air Tran was available. And so I thought, Oh, yeah, Atlanta to Florida, keep flights, there and back, whatever you need. And it really didn’t work. Because I hadn’t productized myself. And it really is kind of, because I’m the sole practitioner flavor of independent consultant. Corporate hearts is they’re kind of just buying me. And that that was was frustrating. But I was glad I tried it. So I didn’t look back now and say, I should have tried that.

Will Bachman 31:39
Build on something heard earlier, just around around the business development piece. But it’s, it’s related to that, which is one thing that if you’re in a big firm, if other than reaching out to clients, that tend to be a very limited section of the universe, right, it’s only tends to be very fortune 500, certain very, you know, certain types of buyers at those fortune 500 very senior people. Most of your energy and your focus in life is internal and related. So if you’re at McKinsey, probably most of your interactions are internally facing. And one thing that you might either like or dislike, but a lot of people do like about being an independent professional, is it just opens this whole universe of potential interactions much more broadly, where you could theoretically be collaborating with just about anyone that you meet other consultants, graphic designer, bring them on a project, data science person, bring them in on a project, you know, people in other countries and your industry and your function, you know, people bringing you into their work. And a much broader set of companies could be your potential clients. Because he, you know, they don’t have to be able to afford a million dollars a month. So that’s one thing that a lot of people I think like is it just all of a sudden your whole world of interactions gets opened up to externally? The other thing in terms of risk tolerance is people think, oh, independent consulting, very risky proposition. Well be turned that around, maybe initially, but if you once you’re established, and you have a portfolio of 567 clients that you’ve served, and you’re starting to build reputation, that can actually be much more robust than a corporate career, where your senior vice president, Executive Vice President, you think, well, it’s very stable, because I had this long term career there. But it’s also very fragile, where it only takes one CEO to not like you, and all of a sudden you’re out of a job. And that’s very hard job to find, and tends to be, you know, what, like, eight 912 month search for a new role, whereas an independent professional, you have seven, eight clients, one of them gets new CEO, they don’t like you, okay, now you have six or seven clients and you go find another one to fill the gap. So, while it seems more risky, it can actually long term be more robust. So, let’s see, one. One question that we had here is would you consider going back to a corporate role now that you’ve experienced You know, this path? Any any thoughts there? j has gone back and forth so maybe maybe start with J

Jay Altizer 34:36
Yeah, like yes and and probably will so um, you know, all look in the point you were just talking about uncertainty is like there’s there’s no certainty in any of these corporate jobs or any of these certainly not sea level private equity jobs. I mean, you’re you’re fooling yourself. If you think that’s like some You know, risk risk free source of income from it says I could not agree more that really when you risk weight it, it’s probably not as much riskier as people think to be an independent. But look, here’s the way I think about it is, yeah, like, I’ve have a nice book of work now. I’m evaluating and in doing this, lets me be choosy. Other operating situations I’m going to look for to go run and you know, fingers crossed, I’ll be able to do that. And when the next one ends, I’ll do this immediately again, right? Like, what why would you ever you ever stop, like so it’s, you know, I, none of the way I’m doing this, it was really by design, but I kind of like it because it it, you know, it, it sort of smoothes out the transition spots. And then lets me be choosy. So you know, for sure. Um, hey, and by the way, I am a, you know, on my buyer of independent consulting services when I’m in an operating job. So in participating this network is helpful for a lot of reasons.

Will Bachman 36:14
Well, let’s, let’s close this out. Let’s go around the horn. And let’s all share just one tip that you wish you had known when you started your practice. Is there one tip on any aspect of this, that you think an executive would find helpful if she is planning to start her own practice? Anyone want to start? Andrew,

Andrew McKee 36:41
have three quick things. One is it’s a unpaid promo for Umbrex give a Tell him to go check out the great community will bucklins built and this didn’t exist, or I didn’t know about you all when I quit my job 10 years ago. And that’s one. Two is there’s a time lag to spool up that I don’t think we discussed this, most corporations have. So you take it from initial meetings, you might have that then lead conversations to opportunities, you can take three to six months to get like the first penny. And then you add in corporate accounts payable, which is typically 30 to 90 days, depending on a few factors after your invoice, right. And if you don’t have an invoice rhythm that works to spread it out. Like if you do only at the very end of the project, you could be like half a year before you make any money in a cache way. So that’s one, that’s the second thing. And then the third is started to be somebody. But since we’ll be talking about just to empower the independence, I love some of your replying earlier about ways to think about all the cool projects you could do. I love both finding people you’d love to work with or support, or they’re doing cool projects that you find interesting or meaningful. And then to think of yourself very broadly as far as different dimensions. And this might sound very x McKinsey says Americans, but think about like industry content is like manufacturing, in whatever industry, then it’s like functional content will mean that manufacturing is functional content, like commercials, sales, marketing. And then there’s also the types of things you could actually do, which would be like, market research that maybe they can’t do themselves, could be staff augmentation, like they could do it themselves if they had five more people, but they don’t. So you just join their team. And then there’s also the expert advisory kind of projects. So there’s like, five, six different dimensions you can play with over time that might help hopefully give some positivity and optimism for folks who might be trying it out for the first time.

Will Bachman 38:32
Jay, can I pass it to you? What’s one or two tips that you wish you had known when you started?

Jay Altizer 38:37
Oh, look, I think that’s I like the way Andrew talks about it. Maybe this is maybe this is a simplifying way to think about things but I think if you if you focus on your relationships, like anybody you’ve enjoyed working with you’ve had good chemistry with you’ve done a good job for you focus on refreshing and building those relationships and and then follow the customer. So the way I read a lot of Andrews comments is you find the people who believe in you and who are perjeta for you know, like really are buying you being there and then go where they take you in terms of the problems you work on the services you provide. And you know, just be and be flexible, let them let them lead you to the places you need help. So that’s maybe my sort of meta point in looking at tactically and you’ve done a good job in this. It’s just, you know, get through all the administrivia right, just get a program for that and make decisions and get that done and you’ve got great resources for that. An attorney that’s a that’s another one. You can my mother in law, believe it or not served as my attorney and you know having access to legal services and kept me out of a lot of trouble. And, you know, help me get back in the grill of some private equity clients in particular in negotiations, but just, you know, work all that stuff out like, like you mean it. So that when when you’re in the moment, you’re not trying to figure that out.

Will Bachman 40:19
Ashutosh your your one or two tips?

Ashutosh Dalvi 40:22
Yeah, I would say the The first tip is, this one’s really simple set a schedule, because I think being a solo, like Jennifer, sometimes it’s hard, you’re like, I got a, I got to write an article, I got to make these client calls, I have to work on the client engagement that I have right now. So carve time out for all the different activities that you need to do in balance as a solo. And then the other thing that I would say, like Jay and Andrew, just to reiterate that reach out to your network, I’ve talked to people that I haven’t talked to since I was in college, and they have all been really great. And remember that people want to help you. We are all consultants, we help our clients. And there are a lot of people out there that are going to help you if you just ask for it.

Will Bachman 41:08
Yeah, Jennifer,

Jennifer Hartz 41:10
I’m gonna go back to two things to think about and really write down on paper. One is what what do you have to deliver to clients? What is that expertise that they need? We’ll talk early on in this in this podcast about what does the client need? That is always going to be at the bottom? The second piece to really think about is what do you need? One of the things that I needed was enough variety of experiences. So I have I’ve worked in every single department, every single industry, every single geography, I had a client in Chicago, I have had a client in Russia in and the I’m a trivia Queen now, because I’ve seen a lot of different things and how they work. Is that engaged? Is that engaging and inspiring to you? Or is that scary? And you have to be really honest with yourself.

Will Bachman 42:17
Yeah. Thank you, Jennifer. And let’s see just here in the chat. You know, Andrew had the comment that, you know, he thought gave Jays a thumbs up about working with a real attorney, and that some independent consultants go to LegalZoom and pull templates. But really, it does make a lot of sense to get an attorney, you’re not going to run up tons and tons of hours. We know I point people who are interested in that to check out Episode 12 way back at the beginning of this show, Episode 12. I interviewed Matt Weill and we talked through those issues, mainly need just a few different documents, you need a non solicitation document, you need a nondisclosure agreement, you need a contract template for you to work directly with a client, you want to have a contract template for you to engage a subcontractor. So those three things are the main documents you need. Plus, you want to get an operating agreement for your LLC. If you’re just an independent truly sole provider, that is pretty straightforward. And your attorney probably has something right off the shelf that barely needs customized at all. If you have some partners, then it’s a little bit more complicated because you need to negotiate, termination and exit and all those sorts of things. But do work with an attorney. It’s peace of mind and it makes sense. A couple tips that I’d add would be find other independent consultants in your space, who you can talk to it’s it’s a big ocean, you’re not really competing with them. It’s a lot opportunities to collaborate and finding other people who do the kind of work you do. You can find out what rates clients expect what sort of Statement of Work what sort of needs other consultants are seeing it’s really gonna be the best source for being successful in this.

Jay Altizer 44:12
s leave I forgot that nothing jumped in. But I had, like I really should give more credit to I had two people Clinton Anderson and Jay Grobe. I mean, more or less set me up. I mean, first go around and gave me the documents and told me, here’s how you charge here’s what you do, and that is super critical. And like, like, I don’t know how you figure that out with somebody helping you. It’s so

Will Bachman 44:39
good to have a mentor for me. It was Rosina sama, Donnie and Nicole Kingfisher. I’d call each of them like every couple weeks. They were people I knew at McKinsey who had left who had set up their firms before me and their advice back in 2008 2009 2010 was so helpful to me. So find other people in your space to talk to for some of you The overview, I will mention that right here on the website if you go to Umbrex comm click on look for the guide, we have the Umbrex Guide to setting up your own consulting practice, 90 videos plus all about 30 tools and templates you can download. So that’s a useful reference where we put together in one program. It’s kind of everything you need to know from legal setup to marketing to business development, to Financial Peace. So check out that if you’re you know, thinking about getting started. It’s that’s everything that I wish I had known when I when I started my own practice. So, Jennifer J. Andrew, Ashutosh, thank you all so much for joining. For any listeners who want to follow up with any of those, I will include links to their websites, as well as their LinkedIn profiles in the show notes. So thank you all for joining and thanks for listening to this episode of Unleashed

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