There’s a familiar formula playing out across the tech world right now. It’s not the first time we’ve seen it, and it certainly won’t be the last.
Soaring Stocks x Unsustainable Growth + Economic Turmoil + Inflation = Tanking Stocks + Spooked Shareholders + Widespread Layoffs
Business is a numbers game, and that’s fair. We understand that.
But what’s not fair is that real lives are left stranded after the calculations. Employees are considered family until one day, they’re reduced to just a number. An unnamed resource with a price tag – this has become the cost of doing business in tech.
If you’ve been affected, it’s okay to grieve
The recent layoffs at Salesforce, Meta, Twitter, Amazon, Lyft, and many other tech companies are disheartening. If you’ve been affected, we are sincerely sorry.
Getting laid off is an incredibly difficult life event. Please take some time for yourself to grieve. Throw yourself a little pity party and let the dust settle before pressuring yourself to “get it together” — self-reflection and rest will pay off tenfold.
It won’t seem like it now, and maybe not for a while, but getting laid off can be an unexpected opportunity for change. No one wants to be shoved blindly out of their comfort zone, but this moment can pivot your career trajectory for the better. It can help you build momentum for change.
Use the momentum for change
Have you ever dreamed of being your own boss? Or what would it feel like to be more flexible with your time and projects? Have you ever said to yourself, “I should just start my own business?”
No more office politics. No more wondering when or if your position will be eliminated. No more bending to the bottom line. No more bureaucracy.
Being independent means you drive your success. The road will be bumpy, but all the independent consultants we know say the journey is worth it. Especially when customer demand continues to grow amidst an economy prime for contract talent.
If you’re a Salesforce expert with at least three years of consulting experience and can’t stop imagining what it could be like to just do it, then this guide to starting your own Salesforce consultancy is for you.
The difference between independent consultants and freelancers
Establishing an independent consulting business isn’t a band-aid between full-time jobs. It’s a commitment.
Here is how we define an independent consultant versus a freelancer:
There is absolutely no shame in freelancing if entrepreneurship isn’t your bag (we go into detail on how to make that determination below). If the ideal scenario is to land another full-time job or you simply need more time before going all in on your business, then freelancing while applying to new roles is your best next move.
Ask yourself, “Why do I want to do this?”
Be honest with yourself. Not everyone is cut out to start a business, and that’s perfectly okay.
The idea of being your own boss is sexy – many people envision more money, more flexibility, and more security. The potential for those benefits is very real but not guaranteed. There will undoubtedly be times when your income is unstable and/or you are working 80+ hours weekly.
When the going gets tough, what will drive you to keep going? We created this downloadable checklist to help guide this thought exercise. Here are a few questions to start with:
What’s your “why?” for starting a business?
What problem do you really want to solve?
How will you be able to solve that problem better than anyone else?
10K’s CEO, Nick Hamm, started his entrepreneurial journey years ago (after seven years entrenched in various roles within the Salesforce ecosystem). He saw a problem and knew he had a good solution. Nick saw firsthand how hard it was (and still is) for Salesforce customers to find good talent. At the same time, a lot of great consultants were going independent. This created a diverse network of top talent that was not easily accessible to customers – that’s how 10K was born.
Lay down the foundation for your consultancy
Once you’ve got the ethos of your independent consultancy on paper, it’s time to structure your business and make it official. This is what will differentiate you from a Salesforce freelancer. It’s also a strong selling point for customers considering your services.
Establishing a business sounds daunting. However, when it boils down to it, there are only four steps to make it a reality. Here are the four first steps you should take:
Find the right circle of advisors
While it’s great to have a mentor to help you with the technical side of starting a consultancy, it’s equally as important to establish a go-to network of specialized advisors. They will play a crucial role in your support system and help with strategic decisions. We recommend enlisting a CPA insurance broker and attorney.
Establish an official business entity
Establishing an official business entity – LLC, S corp, etc. – solidifies an official transition to entrepreneurship and symbolizes the commitment to independent consulting as a full-time job.
An established business entity is also a non-negotiable formality for many potential customers and partners. They want to work with experts who are protected from liability and can provide a non-personal social security number.
Separate personal and business finances
With an official business entity in place, it’s time to get the financial back of the house in order. Choose a trusted financial institution to open an official business checking and savings account.
It is crucial to keep personal and business finances entirely separate. Mingling accounts and their activity – personal and family expenses, business expenses, business income, etc – will inevitably create a nightmare when it comes time to file personal and business tax returns.
Create a contingency plan
If we have learned anything since 2020, it’s that life is unpredictable. No amount of research, foundation-building or financial planning can insulate business owners from the inevitable curveballs. Contingency plans provide peace of mind and actionable steps if business doesn’t go according to plan A.
When you’re ready to take action, we go into more detail for each of these four steps in this article.
Promote the hell out of your services
Being the boss also means owning sales, marketing, and branding. You are the face of your business. As soon as you start taking steps to make your consultancy legally official, make it official with your network. Promote the hell out of yourself! You are your most knowledgeable and loudest advocate.
Jeff Mevorah, an independent Salesforce Technical Consultant, recommends that budding independents should “Think like an entrepreneur and get yourself out there. Tell everyone about your new journey. At first, I was hesitant to post on LinkedIn and promote myself, but I realized I had to get out of my head. My network has shown me an outpouring of support. It’s also a major source for project leads. The Salesforce community is incredibly supportive.”
Prepare for client intros
Do your homework
A good consultant performs ample due diligence before meeting a new client. Research should always include basic knowledge of the client, both the individual you’re meeting with (if you know who you’re meeting with), the company, and their industry. Earn conversation points by arming yourself with relevant industry trends and challenges so you can confidently speak to their pain points.
If someone is setting up the call for you, such as a delivery partner or agency, don’t hesitate to ask for a prep call. At 10K, it’s our priority to ensure every expert is prepped and confident for their new client intros.
Master your 1-minute elevator pitch
Like resumes, your elevator pitch shouldn’t be one size fits all. It should be tailored and tweaked for every client intro and the needs you hope to solve.
Take the first 30 seconds to discuss your overall career background and 30 seconds to highlight your skills as they relate to the client’s project/industry. Outline a relevant example or two to demonstrate how your experience is a value-add. For example, “For a financial services client, I performed XYZ; for a technology start-up, I performed XYZ, which increased LMNOP and decreased QRS, surpassing client expectations.”
Offer metrics when you can and advocate for your skills – clients want to know you can be an effective partner and help solve their problems.
Sharpen your soft skills
Clients want to feel confident about your ability to parachute into a project, jive with stakeholders, and get the job done. Your personality and communication style should shine.
A great consultant listens, intending to pick up verbal and non-verbal messages. Ask questions for clarity and provide feedback to prove you heard and understood what the client said.
An active listener can hear what’s not being said by listening between the lines, such as a shift in tone or body language. Picking up what the client doesn’t say is an advanced communication skill that helps make a difference in complex problem-solving.
It’s important to present yourself as an expert and show authority in your skillset. However, there is a fine line between confidence and condescendence. How you ask questions and comment on the client’s situation matters.
For example, tame your surprise and reserve judgment if you disagree with an approach they have taken in the past or don’t understand how their organization/processes are currently set up. Instead of saying, “Oh, so why did you wait until now to implement Marketing Cloud?” offer them support with, “You’re making a great first step toward leveling up your XYZ with Marketing Cloud.”
Clients sometimes express or show frustration while describing their business problems, especially in initial conversations and discovery. Let them know you are invested in solving their challenges and adjust your tone and body language accordingly. It takes vulnerability to admit there’s a problem and ask for help, and giving clients your empathy can make a lasting impact.
Join a community like 10K
There is a lot of pressure and unique challenges that come with being an independent business owner. It can be a lonely venture at times. That’s why we are so proud of 10K – a community dedicated to connecting the growing global population of independent Salesforce consultants.
If you’re interested in speaking with our Chief Talent Officer, Kristin Langlois, about going independent, please contact us today. We’re here to answer your questions and help launch a new career you can be proud of.