The 10K mission is to give people the freedom to do more of the work they love. For Salesforce customers, that means building solutions that bring business initiatives to life and make users’ lives easier. For our independent Salesforce experts, it’s about connecting them with cool projects and customers that speak to their passions and interests. We’re kicking off Independents Week with Jeff May, an independent Salesforce technical architect, and entrepreneur.
How did you know it was time to go independent?
I decided to go independent in July 2011. The idea of being my own boss was a driver, but I also wanted to be the decision-maker for my projects.
What did your first few months look like?
At the end of that first August, I had a slump. I thought “Uh-oh, this isn’t good. It’s only my second month.” My goal was to replace my full-time salary, and I was off to a rough start. Thankfully, my first rough patch turned out to be a fake-out, because I’ve seen steady work ever since.
Maybe it’s timing and a healthy dose of luck, but I’ve learned this is a foundational truth for running your own business – If you’re good at what you do and put your clients first, work will never dry up. That’s when the real fun starts. You get to choose what you work on.
What have you grown to love about being an independent consultant?
I get to be in control of my life. We spend a lot of it working, and there is too much fun and rewarding work out there to take on disappointing projects. Life is too short for that kind of stress.
It also feels good to do good business – I want my clients to feel like they’re getting value. Sometimes that means convincing a client they only need me in a fractional capacity. They don’t need to pay my rate and seniority for me to sit there for unused hours. Guiding clients to the best decision for them – even if that doesn’t include me – helps them spend their budget wisely while building trust for the future.
The key is to practice honesty, with yourself and your clients. I turn down work that’s not exciting or a good fit. If my gut tells me a client isn’t interested in what I have to offer and approaches the partnership with a closed mind, then I know they’re not a great client for me.
Are there any lessons you can share from your journey?
Every client relationship – potential or active – matters. It pays to be professional when turning down work or walking away from a project, no matter the reason. If the market were to crash and you lose the luxury of choice, you’ll still have your client relationships to fall back on. You need to keep the door open for the future. You also have to accept you’re going to spend a lot of time not doing the work you love. There is going to be a lot of time spent on administrative tasks, financials, chasing down payments, and marketing yourself to potential clients.