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How to Start Your Consulting Business as a working parent

What if you didn’t have to choose between being present with your kids and earning a living doing work you love?

During my corporate career, I struggled in search of work-life balance as a parent. I wanted to make an impact professionally and personally, but I got stuck when my kids were toddlers because too many demands kept me from doing both roles well. I got stuck and even wrote a book about it!

Before I quit corporate, I started learning more about freelancing. Fortunately, as an executive, I had access to tons of tools to clarify my strengths and the market for my abilities. Understanding your skills and the appropriate rate to charge for your experience is daunting. Positioning yourself as a consultant allows you to leverage your skills in your career and be active for the moments of your child’s life you want to: volunteering at school, getting outside during the day, or watching basketball practice.

With all of the remote jobs created during the pandemic, parents have the greatest opportunity to leverage technology to work from home.

Consulting has several benefits for working parents. You are responsible for your hours, work flexibility, and billing as a consultant.

If you are struggling with where to start, consider the following steps to help you create your plan.

Here are steps you can take to build your freelance business as a working parent:

1. Get clear on your skills, experience, and interests. Consider reviewing your resume and taking a leadership assessment like Insights ® Discovery to help you uncover talents you may not use in your current role. Reflect on projects that have brought you joy, and list what you like to do. For example:

  • Have you worked in project management? Consider certification in software like Asana and market yourself as an independent project manager.

  • Are you hyper-organized, love creating productivity systems, and are a great time manager? Consider listing your services as a virtual assistant.

  • Do you love to conduct interviews and write? Try marketing your skills to research and write online articles, grants, or documents.

2. Get certified! Research platforms in demand for the work you want to do. Many platforms like Hootsuite for social media, HubSpot for business marketing, or Google offer free and paid courses that will increase your value and often will help connect users with you as a resource.

3. Consider how you’ll market yourself and attract sales. As a freelance consultant, you’ll need to identify your ideal customer and get comfortable pricing and pitching your services. Invest in developing your skills through reading, workshops, and industry resources. If you are still feeling stuck, consider getting a coach or joining a cohort learning program like Package Your Genius Academy to build your confidence.

4. Commit to continuous improvement. You won’t be good at first. Look for projects that will excite you and build your confidence and portfolio. Consider offering your services on an industry job board or freelancing platform like Fiverr. Reach out to your network on LinkedIn with discounted services to a more established consultant, and be sure to ask for a testimonial when you do a great job. Leverette Weekes is always looking for great communications talent to work on mission-aligned clients.

5. Build your online brand. You are your best ambassador. Now is the time to invest in a new headshot, make your logo, and register your business. Establish your website, custom domain for your business, and social media accounts to help your network learn what services you provide and recommend you easily. You can choose to do it yourself or hire a contractor to get started. If you have a talented tech kid in your house, you may kick off a new family business.

6. Expand your network intentionally! Making a shift in your career can be lonely. Engaging in professional networks for freelancers and working parents. Look for mastermind groups, retreats, or online communities to introduce you to new people who will understand where you are and support you on your journey.

7. Hire an accountant and retain an attorney. Every business person needs to protect their finances and intellectual property. An accountant can help you select the right invoicing software, advise you on health insurance and ensure your pricing includes taxes. An attorney can review your insurance coverage and create standard contracts (i.e., statement of work, non-disclosure, payment terms).

8. Create your ideal schedule. As a working parent, consulting gives you the freedom to decide how you want to spend your time. When can you have calls and meetings and complete focused work? When do you need to be offline to transport kids or be present at home? How will you respond to clients when you are not accessible by phone or email? Fortunately, virtual receptionists and online scheduling systems like Calendly allow you to manage your calendar and client onboarding as a solo entrepreneur.

9. Collect positive reviews and testimonials. Clients work with people they know, like, and trust. Consider asking those who know your work the best, including satisfied clients, past colleagues, and former bosses, to describe your unique talents and strengths and why they’d recommend working with you.

Consulting isn’t for the faint of heart. Decide how much time and energy you want to put into starting your consulting business. The good news is if the steps above are overwhelming, consider joining an established consulting agency like Leverette Weekes to have the freedom and structure while you transition.

Whatever you decide, remember to create a business that allows you to be present for your family during the moments that matter to you the most.

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