On Your Own: Part 2
© Douglas E. Welch 1997
Consultant or Contractor
There are several ways of going out on your own. Two of most common
choices are starting your own consulting business where you deal
with a varierty of clients and working as a contractor for a larger
Contractors are in demand more and more as companies look for
ways to cut costs and trim full-time staff members saving the
costs of health benefits and pension plans. Corporations will
often develop long-term relationships with their contractors so
you may feel like an employee even when you aren?t. There are
pros and cons to both approaches and I will detail these below.
Running your own consulting company can be a heady experience.
You are working on your own, master/mistress of your own time
and free to chose who you do business with and when you do it.
At least, that?s the idea. It also means that you become your
own PR & marketing rep, your own secretary, your own receptionist
and your own bookkeeper.
Working on your own requires focus, dedication and the ability
to motivate yourself. You will have to got out and find clients
and service them to the best of your abilities. Referrals will
become very important to you as they will be your major source
of new clients. Running your own business, you have some control
over who you work for but there will be many times when you will
have to weigh the money versus the client.
Additional concerns include paying for your own healthcare, tax
liabilities due to no withholding and collecting from clients
who have trouble paying on time. These are all part of running
Signing the contract
Another freelance possibility is becoming a contractor at a large
corporation. These companies often need high-tech staffers to
implement special programs and other long term projects. These
projects are usually outside the scope of the internal staff members
and can run from 1 month to several years.
Contractor positions have the benefit of being a long term agreement.
This allows you to forgo the marketing aspect mentioned above
except at the end of your contracting agreements. It is also possible
the contract might even turn into a fulltime position. You are
also saved from major bookkeeping and collection duties.
There are cons to becoming a contractor as well. Unlike a fulltime
employee, your contract can usually be cancelled with no notice.
This could leave you out of work with no severence pay until you
find your next position. Contractors are also denied many of the
benefits of employees. This can range from paying for your own
pager to not being invited to company events. While this not seem
like a big deal, it can effect your state of mind and your work
environment. It is always important to remember that you are NOT
an employee, as much as it may feel like it.
Consultant and contractor are merely two sides of the same coin,
but you may find that one fits your skills or personality better.
Research all your options.
Douglas E. Welch is a freelance writer and computer consultant
in Van Nuys, California. Readers can discuss career issues with
other readers by joining the Career Opportunities Discussion on
Douglas' web page at: http://home.earthlink.net/~dewelch/
He can reached via email at email@example.com