Many companies call on consultants during a project. Our advice to launching your freelance career and become an independent consultant.
Living different experiences, choosing your assignments as you wish and having the freedom to set your own rates – being an independent consultant has several advantages. However, the risks of irregular income or the fear of loneliness are all factors that can put you off. How to get off on the right foot?
Cultivate your network
Jacques Albert, an I.T project manager, started out as an independent computer consultant six months ago, after working for several years in a company. For him, the main success factor is the network. Communicating, making yourself known and always seeking to meet new people are keys to success, because this is often how the consultant picks up his next contract. “For example, I try to have dinner with someone at least once a week,” he says. He takes the opportunity to inform his network about his current projects, but also to inquire about what is happening elsewhere. “When you are available, it’s ideal to let it be known in advance,” the consultant adds.
Join a professional association
Jacques Albert emphasizes the importance of belonging to a professional group in the industry. He is a member of the Association québécoise des informaticiennes et informaticiens indépendants (AQI) and he explains how this approach has helped him a lot, especially when starting out. “Associations offer consultants valuable information and opportunities to share their experience,” he points out. In this way they expand their network, get advice and avoid isolation.
Setting the right rates
When working independently, setting the right price for your services can be difficult. “You have to have a minimum amount of experience; refer to your association or to other consultants,” Jacques says. In addition, the rate also reflects the service rendered and, by extension, its value on the market.
In order to avoid any tax disappointments, Jacques Albert recommends using a good accountant and being well informed. “Making sure to do tax matters right is important because if you don’t pay attention, it can be very detrimental,” he warns.
Finally, he suggests always keeping a “comfort and safety zone”. “This is advice that I was given and I try to follow: set aside six months salary to cover transitions,” he concludes.