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When Is The Right Time to Leave the Day Job and Become a Consultant?

“Catherine” was a prospective client who seemed unusually nervous as we discussed her plan to leave the cushy corporate life to start a consulting firm.

She’d been in consulting before, so she had a pretty clear-eyed view of the difference between that and her present gig. I couldn’t pinpoint the insecurity.

So I asked her: “How long can you make it (i.e. pay your bills) before you land your first paying clients?”

“Hmm, honestly” she said, “maybe 30 days if I’m really careful.”

Of course I pretty much ended the call with her and sent her back to her day job—as courageous as his decision was, the risk for an actual disaster was simply untenable (not only for her, but for her dependent family).

Instead, I suggested she start working on a plan to produce a course that she could pre-market and pre0sell about a person in exactly her position. This would be a side gig and help her all the tools necessary to run and manage a profitable digital consultancy.

Because here’s the thing.

Running an authority business requires a frequent dose of risk taking and a handle on the tools

Positioning yourself in a unique market niche that allows you to charge premium price tags for the value you deliver.

Putting your ideas out into the world where you risk others torpedoing them before they get a chance to catch on.

Stepping up to a truly visible platform—podcasts, YouTube videos, speaking, books, courses—where you can wield significant influence in your space.

And you can’t take those risks if you don’t have a foundation from which to work. Foundation, as in experience and assets—like cash, a client base, expertise, relationships—and a tool stack that will support your plan.

Then you can turn on courage to start something new.

And then…

You plot your course and you insert some mile markers (not unlike creating your personal financial plan):

When I have completed three of these kinds of projects, I’ll start talking/writing about and socializing my ideas and point of view with potential clients and referral sources.

When I have discovered ten people that are open to my new idea, I’ll flesh it out a bit and ask them to poke holes in it (sharing helps you tweak and build out the idea so your tribe can sign on).

When I’ve got 20 people talking about it, I’ll develop a _____________ (series of articles, podcast, video, PDF guide, etc.) that I’ll use to spread the word further/faster.

I’ll define my niche and work on deeply understanding what their hell is and what their heaven could be. Then I’ll create my prime directive.

I help _____________ to _____________ by_____________

Then i will test it out, by settingup some 10 minute consulations. When I feel like I’ve got the makings of a committed tribe that is percolating on my idea (and I have $_________ tucked away), I’ll devote 3-6 months to intensive content, such as developing a course; writing and marketing my book; developing a speaking/workshop presentation.

It can be exhilarating to take a risk that makes you feel vulnerable, nervous even—it proves you’re alive and investing in yourself, your ideas, your business.

Just make sure that if it doesn’t pan out, you won’t be wiped out.

Cheers, Michael