Unfortunately for many, Covid-19 has forced us to revaluate plans, find new employment opportunities and align themselves to what is being called ‘the new normal’.

One consistent factor of any economic downturn is the success of start-ups that rise like a phoenix from the ashes.

WhatsApp, Groupon, Slack, and Uber all share a similar story, they were formed during financial downturns, where funding was near impossible and optimism levels were deflated. Even more impressive than that, their founders all shared the common belief that it was possible for a recession to serve as a launchpad for global success.

The below outlines 8 steps to overcome before making the leap into self-sufficiency.

Talk to your Significant Other/Family

A career change can have a major impact on your partner, if you are the main breadwinner, you are putting the family’s income at risk.

If you are not the sole breadwinner, do not underestimate how your transition will impact you and your partner whether it be through finances or upsetting the smaller things such as a routine of household jobs.
Communicating your desires and goals will help to analyse the pros and cons of the transition, but without support from your partner or family, it will be a stressful decision and transition.

Identify your future Client

If you aim for everything, you hit nothing. The same principle applies when you are starting as an independent professional.

You should be able to answer the below questions about the people you will solve problems for:

- What industry are they in?

- What is their income level?

- Why do they want these problems solved?

- How will you make their lives better?

- Who so they currently look to for help on these problems?

Expertise SELLS but Confidence TELLS

Confidence signals expertise and expertise is what you will be selling when you quit your job to take on your own clients.

Confidence is not always easy to build and maintain in the wild, probably has something to do with the fact that your livelihood is dependent on getting prospects to say yes.

Don’t’ wait until you quit to start feeling and acting like an expert, use your job to start feeling like an expert using some of the tactics below:

- Speak up in team meetings

- Hold meetings and teach others

- Pitch internal improvements that your department could do better

- Email your department to recommend blogs/articles/podcasts and books

Do Favours

When you leave, you want to leave in such a way that your old employers still respect and value you. If you are going to do the same work, just as an independent professional, you really want your old employer to think well of you, they could become a source of referrals for ever and beyond.

Here is where to start:

- Take responsibilities away from your boss, if your expertise or skills can cover a problem hanging over them.

- Make your co-workers look good – they could be clients one day!

- Pitch new ideas to executive decision makers.

- Do a favour for third party organisations, this will help to build up the network of contacts that you will require to succeed.

- Sometimes a favour can be double edged, it may be doing someone else a favour, but it is also something you can use as an example in a portfolio of previous work

Winner Mentality

The last thing you want to do is start a new venture with ‘zero wins’ under your belt. In order to close a prospect, you need to be able to demonstrate that you can solve the problems the prospect is struggling to solve.

Here is how you can build your pitch:

- Make a list of projects that you know performed well

- Make a list of projects where you exceeded expectations

- Collate the final results of these projects

- Sort them into a Portfolio of Wins

Take on more projects and repeat

Start on the Side

Even with an impressive portfolio, a range of contacts and impressive skills, it will take some time to get to a point where you are making serious money or have fully replaced the old salary.

The amount of time you must get over the hill is dependent on your other sources of income.

Keeping your job until you have built up the side business that is an adequate source of income not only takes away the pressure of ‘must succeed, cannot fail’ and instead gives you a chance to grow your confidence whilst having a guaranteed income to fall back on.

Here is how to get your second source of income off the ground:

- Make a simple and basic website – Fiverr, Wix and many other platforms available to outsource or learn as you build

- Talk about your expertise on social media – share articles, answer questions and always remain active on LinkedIn

- Ask your friends for questions, then blog the answers

- Make a list of prospects and pitch them until they buy from you

Observe the Market

Find out what kind of jobs go to the independent professionals in your industry. The more you understand what roles may come up, the more you can position yourself correctly in terms of expertise and also price.

Research competitors and ask colleagues who their favourite suppliers are, patterns will emerge leaving a clear and concise path destined for success.

Plan your First 3 Months

Jumping ship without a solid plan is a race to the bottom and more frustrating than anything else, you are letting yourself down.

You may succeed without a plan, but you will be one of the very few that successfully gamble on the mercy of luck and fortune. In this scenario, you will be forced to go wherever the wind takes you and that may not be a very exciting destination.

You do not have to write an overly formal business plan, but you should at the very minimum complete the below checklist:

- Speak to a preferred provider regarding set-up, compliance and responsibilities as an independent professional. They may even be able to provide some calculations or even break-even points.

- Have work lined up, real billable work.

- Have a plan to get more work – a list of 50+ prospects and an engagement plan.

- A schedule

- Time management will become more important than ever before, make a schedule and stick to it.

Starting something new can be both daunting and exciting and 90% of the time, the emotion felt matches the preparation invested.
Nobody thinks they are going to fail when they first start but by strategically planning ahead of time, you can set yourself up for success when you make the leap.

If you are considering a career change whether it be through the spectrum of an independent professional or a start-up SME, reach out to us. We are always happy to help – info@iconaccounting.ie


Sean Piggott

Business Development Manager

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