If you’ve ever started a business, you know the 2 questions that every entrepreneur has to ask: “What will it take to get started, and how soon until it’s profitable?”
Unlike selling physical products, or building software, client businesses can be started very quickly, and are profitable almost instantly. Let’s look at a few reasons why client work is the fastest way to financial independence.
When I started FitFly and Coda (RIP), I had to invest money into physical products, put countless hours into research and development, and ultimately lose money. With my consulting business, I was profitable from day 1.
You might need some basic equipment like a laptop or something, but there’s a chance you already have what you need to start. What a lot of people do wrong, is assuming certain stereotypical “business” materials are needed to appear professional, and it’s just not true.
I didn’t even have a website until the business was averaging $3k/mo, and after almost 4 years, I still have never needed a single business card. (Pro tip: always ask potential clients or connections for their contact info instead of just giving them yours. That keeps the leverage in your hands.)
My advice? Don’t spend a single dime on starting your business until you’ve earned the money to pay for it. Client work gives you that rare luxury.
No upfront cost means no financial risk, and no financial risks means you can enjoy the process and sleep well at night.
Not only is there no upfront cost required to start an online client business, once you get up and running, there aren’t really any major costs to keep it running unless you decide you want them. You’ll need to pay yourself and any contractors you might have helping if you go that route, but everything else is very minor.
Consulting overhead can be extremely flexible. Most consultants just work from home or a coffee shop, but if you want to work out of an office or co-working space, you can do that too. You make the rules, you control the overhead.
Are you wondering what type of consulting services to offer? Start with something you’re already pretty good at. Even better, start with something you’ve already been paid to do.
I run a marketing consulting business. Guess what my old corporate job was? You guessed it (I hope…), Marketing.
The biggest barriers to getting started as a consultant are getting people to trust you, and having confidence in your work. It makes it a lot easier if you have a history already of being paid to do related work. When you think about it, having a full-time job is in some ways like have one really well-paying client (just with a bunch of rules and weird expectations…).
And remember, you don’t need to be an “expert” to be a good consultant. You just need to be one or two steps ahead of whoever it is you’re helping with whatever you’re helping with.
We’ll go more in depth on this topic of how to consult on the side while still working a day job in the future, but for now, just know that it’s a very normal practice for consultants and freelancers to do their work on their own schedules, so working from 6-8 p.m. or on Saturday mornings shouldn’t affect your ability to keep you job while building up your consulting business on the side.
Clients don’t dictate when you work, you get to choose that, and frankly it’s none of their business when you’re working unless you’ve agreed on a specific time to collaborate each week.
Rest easy, you can (and should) keep your day job when starting your consulting business, which means you there’s nothing holding you back from starting! You could start right now. Like, right now.