What it means to be an employee or to be a consultant?

This is continuation of my  blog. “Start-up did not fail or pass. What next?”. Prior to start-ups I failed  to perform home work to learn “Am I ready to be an entrepreneur?”. Now I decided to see through what it means to be employee or a consultant.

Am I ready to be employee?.

Any person who works for employer, has a set of responsibilities based on his/her position in the organization, expected to execute and complete assigned tasks successfully to achieve business objectives.  Few employees find a match between their personal interests and tasks assigned by employer. Irrespective of match, employee needs to meet the job expectation to earn salary.

The employee gets the support of social structure in the work place and is guaranteed with a promise of monthly salary by employer, irrespective of the business outcome. Employee collaborates with others and his/her success is driven by results expected by boss or the team. The uncertainty of business is employer responsibility.

To handle uncertainty risk and ensure salary payment, employer keeps a major portion of business earnings while sharing minor portion as employee salary.On things going wrong, the employee is made to feel safe, (unless being terminated). Most of times, failure is considered as group failure and there is still salary.

On success, the successes become team successes and financial gains on success belongs first to the employer and selectively shared. Few employees are exposed to functions in sales and marketing that provides experience in failure and resilience and make business decisions and face the execution outcome of business decision.

When existing employee skills do not match to the trends of the industry, employer can facilitate you with training  programs to reskill and become more suitable for job.  One cannot expect employer to spend money and train you unless they have important and immediate need for business.  You need to proactive to succeed as employee.

“Works Hard, Earns less salary, More certainty, Execution Leader or Good Follower”.  An employee has choice to join another employer to start and repeat a similar story starts, when employee’s skills are in demand in industry. More supply of people with similar skills makes you a commodity, employer gets easy replacement.

You sacrificed freedom and individuality for certainty. Where is certainty?  You work for long years to save for your retirement being aware that there is no salary post retirement years. To save for certainty in retirement, you become selfish and save more money to achieve certainty at retirement.  Are you not living in the present?

Am I ready to be Professional or Self-Employed or Consultant?

Doctor, lawyers, dancers, singers and creative person fall in this category. The person has special skills and chooses to sell skills being self-employed. The success or the failure is on his or her shoulders and the financial implications are immediate.

You have ability to choose customer and areas to contribute to customer using their skills. You connect with other person and understand their problem. You get hired for your special skill/expertise as consultant for short term quick solutions to problem. Your rates depends on urgency and importance to your customer.

Effectively you are selling your skills.  You have no control over buyer. The buyer can choose to pay for skills and not use the skills in real business. When there is no sale, there is no commission and no cash flow. When there are more people with similar skills, the competition can create significant pressure to get customers.

Being on your own, you see challenge to go on vacation for fear of losing earnings. A long vacation can make client to replace you with some one else. You need to develop brand to charge higher rates. There is risk of customer going to competitor.  At times, you need to work across Sundays and Saturdays, making your family unhappy.

Things become tiring as consultant to meet expectation to stay on top of the industry trends, policy changes and best practices. There are uncertainties of when the next project will come from and existing projects could be truncated in days’ notice.  Being a consultant makes one experience risk to feed entrepreneurial instincts. This stress might be an unnecessary stress factor.

“Works Smart, Earns more salary (skill demand), Less certainty, involve in Strategy”.  I find that I am not good to sell myself as we always undervalue us. That means we are not projecting right data to customers for them to see more value.

Being good at consulting does not reflect that you are good at start-ups. While entrepreneur owns idea, make decisions and works to execute decisions, the consultant researches and come with insight’s and suggestions to arrive at decision and is not involved in the execution.

I would recommend that every one needs to experience consulting for short term to better personal growth. Doing consulting for long term depends on lot of factors including  your skills and your style.

  • Employee with sabbatical option should explore as consultant for a year. The personal, professional growth and networking is good and you experience freedom to make decisions. On-going back, you are more valuable to an employer than earlier.
  • Successful in business(sold your business), one can engage as consultant with other business to make some money and have time  to explore new business ideas and identify new opportunities and also experience being a follower.
  • Not successful or failed in business, one can engage as consultant if you our business was in niche area and you have insights about domain, market approach, pitfalls in execution that are valuable to business to arrive at better decisions.