Consulting on the side is a way to make some extra money, build your network and create credibility as an expert in your area. Over the past several months, I have had a client I have been assisting in setting up a compliance program. I find it very rewarding to help someone solve a problem through my past experiences. The problem is I’m a consultant…
Being a consultant means you have a paying customer. They have demands, you’re expected to meet those demands – “That’s what we’re paying you for”. They have moving targets on timelines, want to change the scope, tell you what to do and how to do it, etc. after all, they’re paying for it! Not to mention the additional “work” required on top of your normal day job, which spills over to your personal life.
In the end, it all comes back to why most managers hire consultants: to be the bad guys and make recommendations that the manager does not have the guts to make. The idea is to bring in an “expert”, control the messaging, and get what the manager wanted all along.
If your considering doing some work on the side, be prepared. In my experience as a manager and leader, managers hire consultants to move their political agenda forward. Leaders hire consultants to fill a blind spot. Choose your clients carefully. Your reputation is at stake and consulting for managers only waters down your permission. Finally, make sure your family is on board with the decision. There’s a price to be paid for the extra income: less of your time. If they aren’t on board, do not make the engagement.
I’m lucky. My client is a leader and my family supports my efforts. I got lucky, but moving forward, I’m making sure I work with leaders and not managers.
Will you have the guts to turn a paying client down if they don’t pass the leadership sniff test or your family is not supportive?