Calling in the Cavalry: When Not to Do it Alone
Independent consultants work solo. That's the general gist you get when you branch out on your own, but this perception is just a stereotype. You don't have to 'go it alone', even as a consultant. Calling on other expert contacts, and asking for outside help when facing a project you're struggling with, is just another resource up your sleeve; not an admission of failure. Teamwork, delegation, and the ability to put a client's needs above your own are essential traits for the best consultants.
Realising you need helpThere's nothing worse than feeling like you're in too deep, especially when you're running a self-employed consultancy business. You can't afford to lose clients, so you can't afford to do a bad job. At the beginning of your journey, you may not have the experience and know-how to drag you out of sticky patches, even if you’ve worked for someone else for a number of years, and this is where your wealth of contacts comes in.
Who to call on – and whenThe type of problem you're facing will determine what help you need. It could be anyone from a website developer to an accountant to just another pair of hands. Clients will always prefer you to seek extra help rather than make it up as you go along – especially if it's a niche set of abilities, or you’re in a crucial stage of the project. If you can, try to predict what skillsets you're going to need throughout the project, and speak to your client as soon as you can. They're going to want to know who's getting involved, and the sooner you can announce this, the better.
The value of teamworkBeing an independent consultant can be a stressful job, especially when you're used to working alone. However, with a team alongside you, the stresses will ease, and you can concentrate on doing what you do best. If social media, software programming or editorial work isn't in your bag of talents, find someone who excels in that area and manage them instead – after all, that’s a skill in itself. The job will get done quicker, and you'll have a brilliantly completed project and a happy client. You'll also be able to hone your teamworking skills, and build up a foundation of professional contacts.
Successful delegationDelegating effectively utilises many of the skills you hold as a consultant – and someone delegating work to you is partly the reason you're in business! However, if you're not used to this, it can be difficult to get started; especially if you find it hard to trust others with work. The key thing to remember is providing detailed job instructions - thorough information from you will result in a better final piece. Letting go is a big step, but vital to delegation – just because someone does it differently to you, doesn't mean it will end badly. Make sure you keep a close eye on progress and request updates as regularly as you need.
Never feel like a failure for asking someone else to step in: some tasks require specialist knowledge, and it's impossible for you to know everything! Always be open with your client, and choose people you can trust for the best results and a better peace of mind.