Amanda's musings on entrepreneurship, money mindset, and being a woman in management consulting.
Last week's disclosure that a mass grave with the remains of 215 children was found at the Kamloops Indian Residential School has been a difficult reminder of the importance of the ongoing work to educate myself and my kids about racism against Indigenous people in Canada.
I thought I knew the overall history of the residential school system and how children were forcibly removed from their homes to attend these schools with the sole purpose of eradicating their culture and language.
I thought I knew about the horrific physical and sexual abuse that these children faced from the Catholic priests and nuns operating the schools.
But I'm sad to admit that I did not know that many of these schools had mortality rates as high as 60%. I did not realize that these schools frequently didn't even inform families when their child had died. I did not know that children were buried in unmarked, mass graves.
All weekend I've been thinking about Indigenous families and the pain they are feeling....
If you're new to independent consulting or still in the planning stage of launching your business, you might not yet be aware of how important it is to establish your employment status in the eyes of tax authorities.
In both Canada and the United States (and likely other countries), there can be significant tax consequences if the CRA / IRS determine that your relationship with a client is more like that of employer/employee.
So what can you do to ensure you are considered a self-employed independent consultant? A quick summary of considerations is presented below. Please note this is not legal advice; please consult with your lawyer and/or accountant to get advice on your particular circumstances.
1. Degree of Control
Self-employed individuals have the ability to work independently, direct their own work, and choose when and for whom they work. Consider working for at least two different clients in any given fiscal year to...
If you're reading this blog, it's likely because you're interested in (someday) going independent and starting your own consulting business.
The decision to leave the security of your job to pursue entrepreneurship is definitely not an easy one to make for many people. You may have fears about sales, replacing your income, loneliness, or planning your own retirement. You might be making lists of pros/cons, talking it over endlessly with partners and family, and going back & forth with yourself about whether or not you're ready.
I thought I'd offer you a piece of advice that I originally shared with a good friend who was weighing various career options and trying to make a decision about whether to leave government to pursue consulting, which was...
"This decision isn't permanent".
Essentially, I was asking him to consider that this wasn't the last time he would be evaluating and reconsidering his career path. He would very likely have the...
I recently shared a success story on social media about one of my coaching clients who officially gave notice to her employer and launched her own consulting business.
I told the story of how E. joined my coaching program in November to learn how to leverage her skills and experience to launch her own consulting business. She was tired of working for someone else and ready to earn significantly more while working fewer hours.
After completing the coaching program, she established the foundation of her business, started taking on consulting clients on the side, and officially gave her notice to her boss on Friday! This was a huge win, and we celebrated with champagne over zoom.
What I didn't share on social media was E.'s self-professed "freak out" on Thursday night. She sent me a panicked email full of fearful questions along the lines of "Am I ready?" and "What if I fail?". She was concerned because she only had 3 months of client work booked...
As a follow-up to last week's blog post about methods independent consultants can use to find contracts, I thought I'd share some guidance on writing proposals in response to formal procurement processes, such as RFPs and RFQs.
I have written a LOT of proposals over the years - everything ranging from a two-pager for a small $10k contract up to 100+ page proposals for multi-million dollar & multi-year system implementation projects when I worked at Deloitte. I've also helped my clients with their procurement processes, and as a result I have read and evaluated many proposals from other consultants.
I've seen it all - the good, the mediocre, and the truly terrible. But with a little help and practice, YOUR proposals don't have to suck.
Here are my top 5 proposal-writing tips based on my own experience.
1. Start with a clear understanding of the client and their needs.
Carefully read and re-read the RFP or RFQ, and spend some time reviewing the...
Have you ever wondered how independent consultants find contracts? People ask me about this a lot, probably because it's super common to have a fear of "selling" and a feeling of uncertainty when it comes to finding clients on your own.
Thankfully, there are multiple ways to attract clients and get contracts signed without having to behave in a way that's out of alignment with your values or that feels uncomfortable. For real - none of these methods involve cold calling or sending spammy pitches on LinkedIn. Here are a few of my favorite approaches:
1. Leverage Your Network
I've had the most success getting new work (least effort on business development, highest revenue) through building and maintaining authentic relationships with people I already know. Try making a list of all your past classmates, colleagues, bosses, clients, and friends, and think through who might be in a position to hire you for consulting services.
2. Get on a Pre-Qualified List
If you do...
During a recent group coaching call with the current group of aspiring consulting business owners in Take the Leap, we engaged in a lively discussion around how best to plan an exit from a full-time job.
Everyone had stories to share about their own current job situation, and everyone expressed a desire to exit on good terms with all of their important relationships intact.
It's a great idea to be very thoughtful and methodical in planning your exit, to act with integrity at all times, and to leave in such a way that leaves the door open to either return in the future or to provide consulting services back to your former employer.
If you're in 'planning mode' for your consulting business and putting your foundation in place, you should also be planning your exit. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Deciding 'when' to leave can be a complex and personal decision to make. When I left Deloitte, I gave my notice almost impulsively and didn't put a ton of thought or...
*note: video provided as an example, though the content is now somewhat out of date :)
This project spotlight falls squarely in the category of: "You want to pay me to do WHAT?"
Sometimes clients ask me to do work that is either unusual or something I've literally never done once before. In this situation, a client wanted me to develop a series of animated videos to communicate some complex technical information in a clear, simple, and engaging manner.
My answer was, "Ummmmm, ok?" and I quickly got to work researching different animation software and buying a high-quality microphone to record the voiceover. I developed storyboards, came up with ideas for visuals, designed the animations and selected background music.
Sometimes as a consultant you have to overcome your own fears about doing something new and learning on the fly. Turns out this was a super fun and highly profitable project for me, and I've actually sold subsequent work developing these types of videos for other...
This project spotlight is definitely an example of work that fell outside of my area of expertise and skill set. Sometimes as a consultant you end up selling work that you may not feel qualified to do, but with an open mind and willingness to learn new things, you can deliver huge value to your clients.
In this case, the client was implementing a new financial system and needed help decommissioning several old legacy systems that would no longer be required once the new platform went live. I was brought on to perform analysis, develop a decommissioning strategy, and deliver detailed plans to retire each system (*I'm not an IT consultant*).
I started by meeting with IT department stakeholders to establish a fulsome list of systems, tools and services to clearly identify what was in scope for retirement. I collected and reviewed documentation for each, and developed an overall strategy with timelines to guide decommissioning planning. I then worked with each application owner to develop...
"What is it exactly that you do?"
My own family and friends sometimes struggle to understand my work. And maybe it's hard to describe because every new project is so different from the last one!
So, over the next few weeks I'm going to highlight some of the consulting projects I've completed recently to help you get a sense of what it's like to own a consulting business. And then maybe my mom & dad will be able to accurately describe what I do to their friends
For this project, a client brought me on to streamline and improve their annual operational planning process, develop a performance management framework with a suite of key performance indicators (KPIs), and assist with quarterly reporting.
I interviewed all members of the senior leadership team and facilitated workshops to discuss priorities. I re-wrote a streamlined and actionable operational plan, established new relevant and meaningful KPIs, and built a custom Excel tool to track and report on progress against each...
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