How to get started as a consultant
One big client. Seriously, that is all it takes to launch your home-based business.
A lot of people go the opposite route. They hang out a shingle, create a website, and wait for the business to come to them. In my case, I stumbled across my major client while I was home sick on leave and decided not to go back to work full-time. That one client covered my base business expenses and provided five hours of work each week. I didn’t really have the space to grow my business since I was operating out of a computer cabinet in the living room, plus I was also pregnant twice and the primary caregiver for two toddlers, so I wasn’t exactly hitting the pavement and trying to expand.
Once I moved into my current four-bedroom apartment and had a separate home office, that was when my business started to boom. I picked up another couple of clients, then another couple, and one of those turned out to be the best partnerships I have ever experienced. That client referred me to a beverage company that is hiring me to be their spokesperson, plus another couple of companies that have turned into long-term clients.
Balancing work and child care is a constant juggle. Each time I ramp up my business, I have a period where I have a lot more work (both because there is just more work but also because client startup always takes a lot of time before we go into maintenance mode) but am not getting paid yet. I cobble together child care via two part-time babysitters, my mom, the daycare downstairs from my condo (my son goes there one morning a week but they let me drop him off another couple mornings if my work load suddenly goes out of control). It’s not an ideal situation, but at least I have backups instead of being reliant on one person. And I only have to pay payroll taxes for one employee, the main babysitter; the other sitter does not work enough hours to require a 1099. I also signed up with a couple of backup babysitting services although I have not needed to use them yet.
Working from home as a consultant can be highly unpredictable, but it also affords huge amounts of flexibility. I can pickup my kids every day from school; the tradeoff is I am taking client calls at random hours on evenings and weekends. So far the work-life balance is unbeatable, key to our family’s quality of life.