For many long-time employees, an easy way to get started in business is through self-employment as a consultant. Taking this path leverages your core skill set and experience gained through working in a specific field. It offsets many of the risks of entrepreneurship by ensuring that you provide a professional level of service with existing market demand.
Working as a team of one, running your business out of a suitcase anywhere you go, can be appealing. You don’t have to worry about paying a lot of overhead or managing a team of people who may have different personalities, motivations, and interests.
But even with this ‘solopreneur’ setup, you end up taking on tasks that others would normally handle on a team. That often means sacrificing the expertise of an in-house specialist. You’ll also miss out on the potential for collaboration.
What can you do? It depends on the specific area of need. If you’re out of your depth running a social media campaign, you should partner with a marketing agency. But with the aid of technology, certain tasks can be accomplished adequately, as though you had the aid of an expert or collaborators.
Invoicing, accounting, and taxes
QuickBooks is a popular and versatile accounting software used by small-to-medium enterprises and individuals seeking to balance their finances. And for the newly independent consultant, there’s QuickBooks Self-Employed.
This tool is like having your own accountant handy at all times. Most employees transitioning to running a consultancy business will not have a solid background in accounting skills. But the IRS doesn’t see that as an excuse for any discrepancies on your tax returns.
The software allows you to send invoices to your clients and keep track of profits and losses. It’s a great way to help you maintain positive cash flow. And it’s vital when the time comes to fill out your annual Schedule-C tax form.
A professional writer can confidently turn out pieces that read well, even on the first draft. But even they will know the value of having an editor go over the piece and provide feedback.
What if writing isn’t one of your core skills? That’s a problem faced by many consultants. When you enter the pool of independent contractors and freelancers, having a superior skill setmay not be enough. You have to stand out regarding how you communicate, whether through a simple email or a post to your professional website.
Draft is an excellent distraction-free writing tool to overcome these challenges. It provides analytics-based feedback on readability, transforming your writing into a concise means of getting your point across. And it allows you to share drafts with others so that they can make suggestions for improvement before you publish.
A consultant’s work may range across many fields. But what all consultants have in common is a certain back-and-forth workflow. A client outlines their needs and specifications; you respond with a proposal. They give feedback, you adjust, and so on.
Your initial output will rarely be accepted as is. It undergoes a process of evolution. And that’s where InVision steps in. It’s an app developed to be useful for design prototyping. Thus, it can be effective as a means of visualizing proposals for your clients, even in the early stages of a project.
Whether it’s a mock-up of a website, virtual interface, or physical product, InVision allows you to present your ideas in a way that makes it easy for clients to grasp. By seeing where the process is headed at all times, both sides get to avoid heading too far down an unwanted path and thus save considerable time and effort.
Becoming your own boss may be the dream for many employees. But when you’re free from someone else’s supervision, you also assume responsibility for your personal productivity.
Some people are naturally good at time management. For others, though, it’s yet another thing to keep track of while they strive to stay on top of the entire operation. RescueTime is there to aid you in this department.
Running the app in the background while you work on your device will remind you to adhere to your self-determined schedule while filtering out distractions. It also logs your usage patterns. Gradually, this helps to paint a picture of your work habits and points out opportunities to improve and optimize your use of time.
Through these tools, you can emulate some of the functions of an in-house team. Despite running a solo business, you get the job done, even in areas that aren’t part of your core strengths.