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consulting while working full time

Consulting While Working Full Time: 2 Proven Strategies To Start Consulting

By Michael Zipursky
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Do you want to start consulting while working full time?

There are many reasons why you might consider starting a consulting “side hustle” before going all in.

Consulting is a low-risk, high-reward business.

You don’t need any capital to get started.

You don’t need a storefront or a warehouse.

All you need is a room where you can work, a computer or laptop, and the ability to create results for your clients.

But if you have a lot of people relying on you financially — like your family — then quitting your job to start a consulting business might not be the right approach.

Instead, you’ll start consulting while working full time. You’ll build up your income or financial runway and then quit. Or, you can enjoy an extra source of income in addition to your full-time job.

By the end of this post, you’ll learn how to start consulting while working full time — and how to transition into an entrepreneurial consultant if you choose to go that route.

Option 1: The All-In Approach

Before we talk about consulting while working full time, it’s worth discussing the first option.

The first option is the “All-In” approach.

This is where you quit your job, burn the boats, and go all-in on your new consulting business.

What’s the benefit of taking this approach?

You’re committed. You have to make things work.

It gets you to take massive action — and massive action is key to starting and growing your consulting business.

The “All-In” approach is an adventure.

You’ll have no other work commitments, no bosses breathing down your neck, or no teammates to manage.

You’ll have all day and every day to build up your consulting business.

And with the coaching and training programs we provide at Consulting Success, you’ll have a proven plan to make your business a success.

We’ve had many clients over the years apply and join the Clarity program while still working full-time. Virtually all of them ended up winning a client within their first 60-90 days which more than paid for the cost of the program.

We don’t recommend that everyone do this. But we do recommend that you invest in your own growth and success.

However, if you are going to take the all-in approach, make sure you have some cash saved up.

You want at least 3-6 months of living expenses to get your business off the ground.

This is enough savings so that you aren’t constantly stressed.

I’ll talk more about building up your savings in the next section.

Consider this approach if you don’t have a lot of people relying on you financially, you have some mentorship or coaching to help you start, or your 9-5 job is making you miserable.

With the “All-In” approach, I’ve seen many people make it work because they had no backup plan.

And that can be your advantage.

Option 2: The Consulting While Working Full Time Approach

If the “All-in” approach isn’t for you, then you can take the “consulting while working full time” approach.

Here’s how you do it.

Step 1. Build Up A Financial Runway

The first step, as I mentioned earlier, is to build up a financial runway. This is also known as an emergency fund.

Even if you’re going to be consulting while working full time, building up a financial runway is a good practice.

A good financial runway is 3-6 months of living expenses. You can even have up to a year of living expenses depending on your risk tolerance.

Before you start saving up, start by calculating your monthly living expenses.

Add up how much you spend on housing, transportation, health, food, recreation, etc.

Then, multiply that by how many months of living expenses you’d like to save up.

Finally, set aside some income each month and allocate it to building up this savings account.

The more you save, the quicker you’ll build up the account.

As soon as you have a solid financial runway, you’ll feel much more confident and secure as you build up your consulting business on the side.

And when your business takes off, you’ll have the freedom to leave your job if you please.

Step 2. Start Networking

The second step to start consulting while working a full-time job is to start networking.

You might not know it, but you are connected to your first few consulting clients. They just aren’t aware of what you’re doing yet.

Inside of our Clarity Coaching Program, we teach something called the “Network Reactivation Campaign.”

It’s a process for reaching out to everyone in your network to make them aware that you plan on doing some consulting.

Here’s a practical method to start networking.

First, make a list of everyone you know. LinkedIn is great for this.

Think past clients, colleagues, employers, family members, friends — EVERYONE you know. You never know who will provide a referral.

Then, send each of them an email.

It might look something like this:

Hey NAME, I just thought about you.

What’s going on? Would love to hear from you.

{Insert a line about what’s going on in your personal life}

{Insert a line about what’s going on in your business — what you’re working on, who you’re serving, etc}

If you know anyone that might be interested in this or might need help in these areas, please let me know.

Best,

YOUR NAME

(For the full system on how to get your first few clients — and more — check out the Clarity Coaching Program)

And remember, networking is a 2-way street.

Add value to the people in your network’s lives as well.

Share helpful articles with them. Connect them to people who they’d benefit from knowing. Promote something that they’re working on.

Consulting is a relationship business.

When you focus on adding value and building relationships, more opportunities will come your way.

Make a habit of spending 20-30 minutes a day on networking.

Make sure EVERYONE you know is aware that you’re doing some consulting gigs, and you’ll drastically increase the chances of winning some referral business.

Step 3. Make Offers

Once you start sharing what you’re doing, some people will be interested to learn more.

Either they (or someone they know) have a need for your expertise. You can solve problems in their business.

This is where the opportunity for a sale comes up.

In consulting, “sales” isn’t a dirty word. Unlike sales in other industries, in consulting, sales starts by listening carefully to your potential client.

  • Ask them about their situation and their problem.
  • Ask them about the value that you might be able to create.
  • Ask them about what would happen if they just leave things the way they are.

By asking meaningful questions, you’ll get a much better understanding of whether you’re a fit to help them.

Then — and only then — you’ll make them an offer.

An offer is your consulting service. It’s what you do to take your client from their current situation to their desired situation.

A consulting offer can come in many different forms:

But all of them have a few things in common: they create value and results for your client.

You can see examples of some of the offers our clients have created on our consulting case studies page.

Since you’re consulting while working full time, you’ll have to factor that into your offer.

A discovery offer or productized offer might work better for you, given that you can’t dedicate a full day of work to your client.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t still create tremendous value for them.

Discovery offers and productized offers are capable of providing a lot of value — and you should price them as such.

If you don’t make an offer, you won’t win any projects. You won’t generate any revenue. Making offers is key to begin consulting.

The more people you talk to, the more people you’ll find who would benefit from your expertise — and the more offers you can make.

Eventually, if you make enough offers, you’ll have the opportunity to make far more than your full-time job.

That’s when it’s time to consider making the leap.

Step 4. Consider Making The Leap To Full-Time Consulting

Eventually, you’ll get to the point where your income is on pace to match your employment income.

This is the point where you can make the leap.

Imagine if you had a full amount of energy to dedicate to your consulting business?

Winning your first few clients is half the battle.

If you can do that, then you can start, grow, and scale a full-time consulting business — and leave the 9-5 life behind forever.

Here’s the truth…

There’s never going to be a perfect time to make the leap.

I’ve seen people make the leap to consulting at 0% of their employment income. 25%. 50%. Even 100% — or more.

At some point, you’ll have a choice to make on whether you want to do it.

Maybe you just want to make some extra income on the side. That’s fine too.

But as entrepreneurial consultants, we thrive on freedom, flexibility, and impact.

And there’s no other career that offers as much freedom, flexibility, and impact as running your own consulting business — and not working for anybody else but your clients (not employers).

Fully transitioning out of your full-time role can be scary. You’re leaving more than just a role. You’re leaving behind a team, social ties, and various resources that you had at your corporate job.

That’s part of why the Consulting Success® Community is so important to us and our clients.

If you make a leap and become a consultant, you shouldn’t have to undergo the journey alone.

You should have a community of like-minded consultants invested in your success.

So whatever your fears are, don’t let them hold you back from making the leap to a full-time consulting business owner.

There are ways to overcome any challenge you might face.

And eventually, with the right plan and business model, you’ll be much more fulfilled and content than you were in your 9-5 job.

Imperfect Action

If you want to start consulting while working full time, here is a recap of the steps…

1. Build Up A Financial Runway: Save up 3-6 months of living expenses.

2. Start Networking: Make sure everyone in your network knows that you’re consulting: what expertise you have, and what industries you’re able to help.

3. Make Offers: For those who can benefit from your expertise, talk with them to understand their problems — and offer them a service to help solve those problems and create value.

4. Consider Making The Leap To Full-Time Consulting: Once you’ve gotten your first few clients, you have what it takes to make the leap to a full-time consulting business owner.

At Consulting Success®, we have plenty of resources to help you start your consulting business — whether that’s on the side or full-time.

Don’t put it off. Start NOW.

Your future self will thank you.

If you’re committed and serious about growing your consulting business then this customized coaching program is for you.

We’ll work hands-on with you to…

  1. Develop a strategic plan,
  2. Dive deep and work through your ideal client clarity,
  3. Strategic messaging,
  4. Consulting offers,
  5. Fees and pricing,
  6. Business model optimization,

…and help you to set up your marketing engine and lead generation system to consistently attract ideal clients.

Schedule a FREE growth session today to apply for our limited capacity Clarity Coaching Program by clicking here.

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