Why Corporate Leaders Are Becoming Independent Consultants (and How You Can, Too)

There are a lot of benefits to having a corporate leadership position. Some of the biggest ones include stable and solid income, upward mobility, great benefits, and respect that comes from being that high up the career ladder.

Despite all of this, more corporate leaders are opting to leave the security of their jobs behind and blaze a different trail as an independent consultant. Why is that?

Walking away from stable employment can be challenging and scary, but the fact is so many leaders ultimately hit the point where they begin questioning if this position is right for them. It may be that the career path laid out by HR just doesn’t fit their aspirations, or maybe they are tired of working on the same types of projects with the same clients and results (even if they are awesome at their job).

It may start as a subtle itch—creeping up at 4:35PM on a Tuesday… “Another 25 minutes left to go… What am I even doing here?” These leaders then start looking at other job options, but nothing seems quite right.

Does this sound like you?

If you’re close to reaching a breaking point in your career, and no other jobs seem much better, you may consider taking the leadership and skill set you have worked hard to develop and launch your own independent consulting business within your area of expertise.

It may sound like a major leap of faith to go solo, but you won’t be alone. According to consulting.com, More than 53 million Americans are currently working independently. The traditional workplace is changing and employees are changing with it to pursue their interests.

If the time feels ripe to start your own consulting business, you can approach it in two different ways.

Approach #1: Keep your day job and start your consulting business on the side.

If you are really concerned about your financial situation, or adverse to risk-taking, ease your way into a successful consulting career by utilizing your nights and weekends to start building up your business before quitting your job.

Your best consulting assets are the specific and industry-related skills that you have come to master over the years in your leadership position. Let your current network know (without violating any NDA agreements, of course) that you are offering your services independently and are looking for referrals. Oftentimes, you can land those first few gigs through your existing contacts alone, giving you a solid starting ground for building your future client base. Spend time every week expanding your network, setting up your business, and securing as much work as you can handle until you feel comfortable leaving your job and focusing 100% on your consulting business.

Approach #2: Go all out!

You may have some savings, and the confidence that you can easily apply your current skills to independent work. If you are ready to go for it, then do it! Be sure to give ample notice to your current employer (3-4 weeks is best) and let them know about your move towards independence. They could end up as one of your best referral sources, so you don’t want to burn any bridges.

At first, so much time on your own may feel daunting so you may want to consider joining a coworking space or getting an accountability partner/mentor. Your best source of learning will be other consultants in your field, so be sure to find and follow anyone who is relevant on social media.

Make yourself a daily schedule, tweak as needed, and stick to it. It will take some time to find your groove, but once you do, you will enjoy the freedom (and hopefully the increased earnings!) that independent work provides.

Margaret Kerr-Jarrett is a business writer from Indianapolis who has lived in Jerusalem, Israel for the past five years. In addition to freelancing, she works for digital marketing agencies in the USA and Israel. Margaret is passionate about bridging the divide between mindfulness and technology, as well empowering people of all types (but especially moms!) to take their skills solo through online businesses and flexible careers.