4 Tips to Transition from a Corporate Career to Becoming A Consultant

Hi. It’s Michael Zipursky from ConsultingSuccess.com. Welcome back to the Consulting Corner, where consultants learn how to consistently attract their ideal clients and significantly increase their fees.

The first is to go all-in, where you resign from your current job and charge full steam ahead to work on growing your consulting business.

I received an email from someone asking me how they can make the transition from a corporate career into running their own consulting business. It’s something they’ve been thinking about for quite some time, yet not quite sure how to navigate.

Corporate-Career-to-Becoming-A-Consultant

I’ve worked with many consultants in the same situation, and I’ve coached them all through the process of moving out of a corporate career into starting, running and growing successful consulting businesses.

Let me share with you a few things to consider when going through – or at least contemplating – this kind of situation.

Two Approaches to Making the Transition

What most people don’t realize is that there are two ways to go about transitioning from a corporate career into starting your consulting practice.

The first is to go all-in, where you resign from your current job and charge full steam ahead to work on growing your consulting business.

The second approach is the slow transition, where you keep your job and consult part-time – with perhaps one or two projects on the side, until you gain more experience and thereby more income from your consulting practice, eventually enabling you to shift away from your corporate job, once and for all.

Which is right and which is wrong?

Especially when your situation is a concern, a really effective method of transitioning is to continue working in your corporate job, and consult on the side until you have become comfortable and until you start seeing a bit more income come in – which then allows you to transition out of the corporate job.

Some people will tell you that you’ve got to walk away from your job. After all, if you’re not committed 100% to your consultancy, then you shouldn’t even think about doing it.

What I’ve observed, after working with so many consultants is that there is no right or wrong way. It all depends on your situation; it depends on your resources, your obligations and responsibilities. Do you have dependents? Do you have a family? What is your situation like? How much money do you have in the bank? What is your comfort and risk level?

Work on the Side

Especially when your situation is a concern, a really effective method of transitioning is to continue working in your corporate job, and consult on the side until you have become comfortable and until you start seeing a bit more income come in – which then allows you to transition out of the corporate job.

Turn Your Job Into a Contract

Another great strategy that can work really well is to turn your current job into your first consulting contract.

And what do I mean by that? What I mean is to approach your current employer, and have a very open and transparent conversation with him or her to let him know that: a) you want to start your own consulting business, and b) you want to become a consultant and you want to move in that direction.

It’s important to reiterate to your employer or boss how much you enjoy working with the company. Suggest that instead of leaving your position you’d like to change the structure of that position from that of an employee to a contractor or consultant.

And that’s a great way to make the transition because if you’re good at what you do, your employer likely already values you, and won’t want to see you leave. With you as a consultant, they can continue to reap the benefits of your expertise and skill. And in this framework, you are now able to make the first step towards actually being a consultant with a client – as opposed to a boss.

Leverage Your Contacts

Yet another strategy that works extremely well is to leverage the contacts that you’ve developed over the years at your job.

In your role with your employer, you’ve likely had literally hundreds interactions with different types of people – from vendors and partners to clients and customers. It would serve you well to scan through that database of contacts and relationships that you’ve established and start to let people know you are leaving  (or have left) your position, and let them know how much you’ve enjoyed working with them over the years.

Tell them that these are now the areas that you’re going to be focused on in your new consulting practice, and if there is an opportunity to help or work with them, you would honour and appreciate the opportunity. Oftentimes, because that relationship has already been established they’re going to say, “Yeah. You know, it’s been really great working with you and I’m happy to hear that you started your own consulting practice. We would love to work with you.” Use that opportunity.

Respect Your Commitments

At the same time, it’s always important to remember that you want to respect any Non-Disclosure Agreements or Non-Compete Agreements that you might have with your employer – which could delay or prohibit any types of work you do for a select time, if within the same scope. And while you’re leaving that position now, it doesn’t mean that you won’t have an opportunity to serve your current employer as a consultant down the road, or that you can’t use them as a reference – or have them provide a testimonial. Maybe they could introduce you to other organizations that are potentially great clients.

This is why you never want to burn bridges or damage relationships by going against any type of NDA/NCA contract that is in place with a former employer. Always respect and honour those agreements – but also leverage them whenever possible.

If consulting is something that you’ve been thinking about for a while or you’re in the transition period, give some thought to these strategies and approaches. Consider the ones you’re not using right now, or those of which could be of great benefit to you down the line.

Again, I’ve worked with many consultants in this situation, and often within just a matter of months they’ve been able to take the steps to launch their own consulting businesses successfully, land new clients, and frequently reach their previous corporate income of high six figures (and beyond) within a very short period of time.

I encourage you to take action and follow your desires and passion. If you really want to become a consultant, don’t overthink it. Start moving in that direction, because the sooner that you take the first step, the sooner that you can actually get to the destination that you’re going after.

Would you like to be personally coached through this transition? If you’d like to learn how to get your consulting business up and running without trial-and-error, so you can start landing more clients and earn higher fees, join Michael’s coaching program.

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  • MeatConsultant

    Really appreciate the video. Never thought about leveraging my current employer. I’ve been in the “slow transition” process for about 2 months. I leveraged my “job related social media app” and found 2 clients almost immediately whom I have been able to successfully begin the transition with. Now its how do I learn to micro manage my time, balance with family ect.. and how do I figure out what a “transitioning” consultant should be compensated as those conversations are coming up rapidly! . Nevertheless, thank you for this site!

  • Elliot Begoun

    Michael, I think there are many approaches to making this transition and you have suggested three approaches. That said, the single most important thing that I did during that transition is to look to you for help. When you make the change, regardless or your path, it is fraught with emotion and concerns. Having someone in your corner who can help you maximize your efforts and speed your journey to success is vital. To me it was a critical decision that I made at the onset, and as you know, it was not made without a trepidation. Yet, I look back and am so thankful that I did because I am certain my current success would have taken much longer in the absence of your steady hand and guidance. Thanks!

    • Such and honor to work with you Elliot. Even bigger things coming for you this year. You’re a rockstar in my books!

  • Vishwas

    Hi Mike, Nice and thoughtful video. Really appreciate your advice.

    • You’re welcome Vishwas! Glad you enjoyed it and found it helpful.