Cultivating a healthy
Money. Fears. Boundaries.
Making the shift from employee to becoming an independent consultant requires a mindset shift in a few key areas.
These are not qualities we develop instantly. Rather we cultivate these as we progress on our consulting journey. These are the 3 key mindset areas that came up for us as we first started out as consultants.
We may find it hard to place a monetary value on our work. Especially in sectors attracting people with a social purpose, keen to provide positive value to society. As a consultant this challenge presents itself clearly when we try to set a daily fee rate. Notions of scarcity can influence the value we place on our time.
Contributing to social justice aims still means we have bills to pay and families to feed. We need to sit with this for a moment. If we do not get paid we cannot contribute to the bigger goal. Making sure we plan for these costs becomes our direct responsibility as a consultant. We need to make sure we’re feeding all the pots our employers used to contribute to through our salary. This includes things like our pension, holiday pay, sick pay, transport, computer, printer and communication tools. It’s quite the list. So, working on your mindset is key. There are plenty of helpful resources and money mindset experts out there. Find one that you connect with and explore your money story. Without this crucial step, you will always struggle to set your fee rate as a consultant.
All humans experience fear. It’s a survival mechanism. When we take the plunge to become an independent consultant, we inherit freedom and responsibility in equal parts. Both can be daunting. Both can be positively life changing. But with a heightened sense of responsibility, ‘going it alone’ fears can sometimes grow and lead to overwhelm. Exploring and recognising where our fears come from is important. So too is providing a space for them. They’re not necessarily going anywhere. But we can get more comfortable being aware of and sharing space with them. We want to enjoy our autonony and freedom as consultants. And keep those pesky fears in check.
Here are 3 vital things we focus on to do just that:
1. clarity of purpose
2. business systems, processes, and tools
3. supportive communities
Ensuring we have these 3 things covered provides us with confidence and comfort. Here's what we did.
Firstly we got super clear on our values and purpose and aligned our consulting practice to these. We have our Roadmap in place. This solid foundation helps guide our decisions and helps us to keep enjoying and evolving along our independent consulting journey.
We’ve also learnt that business systems and processes don’t need to be complicated, but they do need to be in place. There are so many great, easy to use tools. But not all of them are nececssary or right for us. We’ve developed our own consulting toolbox that gives us peace of mind.
Another common fear when transitioning to consulting is working without a trusted back-up team. This is where friendly professional networks, sounding boards, coaches and mentors become crucial. We set up the Women's Consulting Workshop for this exact reason. We all need people to listen and guide, no matter where we are in our journey.
Boundaries become even more important as a consultant than as an employee. After all, the reason many of us go into consulting is to have more freedom and flexibility. So, working out where your boundaries lie and how you can manage your work and life to respect them is key. We’ve spent time reflecting on the way we want to work. With that we are clear where we will compromise and where we can’t. This is something that is right for us, in the season we are in. And it will be different for each of us, depending on where we are on our journey. We use these insights to pre-select work and organise our schedules to fit our family and wellbeing priorities.
Dealing with our mindset is a continuous work in progress and will constantly evolve as we progress. The important thing is that we are aware of these 3 mindset qualities and have strategies in place to embrace them in our daily work.
Episodes where we discuss mindset include:
Season 2: Episode 1 Tranisitioning from a full-time role into consulting with Pauliina Mapatha
Season 2: Episode 3 From employee to consultant. Mindset with Torrey Peace