How consulting changed my life

How consulting changed my life

To those of you–like my former self–who haven’t yet started your business: You might think you CAN’T run a business, that you don’t know how, or don’t have skills that anyone would pay for.

For a moment, forget all those doubts and negative self-talk. Just let them go, and let me tell you how consulting changed my life.

I’ve had other jobs, and only one of those jobs was interesting enough to blog about (back when I was a case manager for foster kids in inner-city Chicago). But none of those jobs was life-changing. But, I can truly say that starting a consulting business has changed my life, as well as my family’s financial picture.

You already know that your day job isn’t going to change your life. Most jobs, when you get down to it, as just jobs. But owning a business changes everything. Sure, you think about your business way more than you ever thought about your day job. But the rewards are far greater when you’re the one running the show.

Did someone say MONEY?

If you’ve poked around this site, you’ve probably already seen my income reports. They give you a pretty clear picture of how much I earn, my hourly rate, etc.

As a consultant, I make WAY more than I ever did as an employee. Back at my old day job, my hourly rate was roughly $22/hour. Not terrible, but not great either. And with annual raises of 2%-4%, I wasn’t going to buy a yacht to get me to and from my personal island anytime soon.

Nowadays, I bill roughly $150-$175/hour. That’s a HUGE difference. Granted, when I started out nearly 5 years ago, I was only (!) billing $95-$120/hour. But, like most businesses, I’ve raised my rate over time and as I’ve realized that my expertise is worth more.

That high hourly rate  means that I can both make more money AND work less.

For a lazy person like me, that’s a fantastic setup.

It’s about more than money

What the income reports DON’T show are the other benefits of owning a consulting business:

  • Freedom & Flexibility: I work when I want, for the most part. I don’t have to relocate across the country unless I want to. I can decide which clients and projects to take on. I can set my own rate–within limits. I don’t have a crazy boss standing over my shoulder telling me I’m slacking off.
  • Opportunity: I can pursue other business opportunities, and am not just limited to a single job, or pigeon-holed in a dead-end job in an organization.
  • Financial security: I’m not dependent on a single employer for my income. I have lots of clients that pay my bills, and have the capacity to get new clients and more work if I need it.

But wait, there’s more!

Besides the freedom, flexibility, opportunity, and financial security:

  • I’m modeling entrepreneurship for my children. Entrepreneurship is about taking action to solve problems and provide value to others. I’m helping my kids acquire the skills to be financially independent, rather than relying on a job for income.
  • I complain less (about work anyway…). I rarely gripe about work, and if I do, I realize that I’m the one at fault and can do something to change the situation.

What’s more, my consulting revenue allows my wife to stay home and spend time with our kids, working on their homework, volunteering in their school, and doing all the stuff that keeps our household running smoothly. Back when we both worked out of the home full-time, we weren’t able to spend as much time with our kids, didn’t have time to volunteer in the kids’ schools, and keeping up with all the errands, grocery shopping, and home management was pretty sketchy.

To sum up, here are some of the costs & benefits of having your own consulting business:

Item Cost
laptop $2,000 (or free if you already have one)
website $100
business cards $30 (or free if you don’t need them)
helping others through your work priceless
getting paid what you’re worth priceless
having more time with your family & friends priceless
being accountable for your life priceless
working in your underwear priceless, but inappropriate for video-conferencing

And a comparison/contrast between being your own boss and working as an employee:

When you’re
a business owner an employee
income adjusts to your effort few opportunities to earn more
schedule flexible, depends on your clients typically rigid
job stress less, and you control the stressors typically lots
benefits (retirement, healthcare) flexible, you decide your benefits golden handcuffs
interesting, challenging work every day if you’re lucky
your boss is you just plain crazy
dress code none casual Fridays
coffee breaks unlimited frowned upon
drinking on the job allowed grounds for dismissal
sexual harassment allowed, but depending on your significant other, may not be encouraged grounds for dismissal
embezzlement oxymoron grounds for dismissal

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