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Jacky Sherman

Northampton & Milton Keynes' Referral Marketing Specialist

07970 638857


Are You Building A Business Or Are You Self-Employed?

Two different ways of starting your consultancy ...



As you can imagine I meet an awful lot of people who are making the transition from employment to setting up their own business. A great many of these are planning to sell their own expertise ...

Building a business or self-employed; it's entirely up to you!

Building a business or self-employed; it's entirely up to you!

photo by 'štefan štefančík' on unsplash

This will be as either a consultant or some form of outsourced support service. It’s a big decision and not for the faint-hearted. Despite all the blog posts and advice that is available, the failure rate for new businesses of this sort remains stubbornly high.

"My observation is that those who start out with a clear vision of what they want to achieve are the most likely to succeed!"

After all, if you don’t know where you’re heading, how can you plan how to get there? Yet it’s one of those blindingly obvious things that many people never do.

I suspect the reason is that most people’s previous experience of a business vision was, at best, imposed on them by an employer and, at worst, they didn’t even know it existed so never inspired them.

Over the next few weeks, I thought I’d explore through my blog some different aspects of having a clear vision for your consultancy business and how it can increase your chances of being one of the small businesses that does succeed.

This week I’m going right back to basics and explore what type of business you want to run. Not the industry type or specialism you offer but answering a far more fundamental question.

"Do you want to set up and run a business or simply be self-employed?"

If you are clear on that, then you can define what you will need to put in place, what new skills and knowledge you’ll need to be successful and who else is going to be involved. And most importantly, does this match what inspired you to set out to work for yourself in the first place?

Let’s look at both options and some questions you will need to answer to make decisions.

  • Building a business

    This implies that the business has a value in its own right. In other words, you could sell it one day when you’re ready to retire or move on. It means you can scale your services up to whatever level you wish and potentially earn a great deal more money. So how large do you want to get?

    It does mean the value needs to be explicit and formulated in the products and systems and processes of the business and not in your head. It also means that other people work in the business.

    • Are you planning to be the sole owner or go into partnership or become a limited company with other shareholders?

    • How will others work with you?

    • Will you have support staff, premises etc.?

    • Who will actually deliver the services?

    • Will you have employees, work with associates, licence your product or franchise the business model?

    • Who will generate the clients you need to support this. You personally or will you have a sales and marketing team?

    A major implication of all this is that the larger you grow, the more your personal time will be spent in leading and running the business and less in client facing service delivery.

  • Self-employed

    Maybe you want just to go it alone and generate enough clients to earn a reasonable salary through your endeavours. Here the major choice is whether you generate your own clients or freelance by working for other businesses as an associate delivering services to their clients.

    Generating your own clients gives you more freedom to choose who you work with, when you work, and how much you charge. However, as you are delivering both the service and generating the clients, you may be limited in how much you can earn in the time you have available. More about how to overcome that in a later blog post in this series.

    Working as an associate for larger consultancy companies means that once you have established those relationships, you don’t have to generate clients yourself. If your service is mainly for larger organisations, then this may open doors to work that would not be easy to get as a sole practitioner.

    On the other hand, you don’t 'own' the client so never build a robust client database and are limited to the type of clients and work that the consultancy company targets.

I thought I’d finish this blog post with two short stories about how clarifying these points impacted on two people in different ways.

  • Firstly, a graphic designer realised that if she were to generate enough income while delivering and marketing her services herself, she would have to position herself differently in the market so she could raise her prices to earn enough to live on.

  • Secondly, a HR consultant was quite clear she just wanted a few regular clients to earn enough to supplement her pension and stop her getting bored. She quickly achieved that with some strategic networking.

Next week, I’ll explore how you brand yourself and your business as a consultant. In the mean time, if you'd like to know more about anything I've said here, call me on 07970 638857 or click here to ping me an email and let's see how I can help.

Until next time ...


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More about Jacky Sherman ...

I help people build and maintain productive working relationships both with their work colleagues and with a wider network to win more business. I do this by combining my skills in coaching, mediation and training with my extensive experience in senior management.

What I love most about my work is when my clients get those a-ha moments because I know they have seen for themselves the way that they want to move forward. Then they will achieve their ambitions.

Helping people who are having challenges with their working relationships gives me enormous pleasure. It was my privilege when working in health care to see how people working together can make the impossible seem easy and accomplish miracles as a result.

So helping people build or restore strong relationship with their colleagues makes even the hardest work easier, alleviates distress for the individual and reduces problems for the whole organisation.

In all this work trust is an essential ingredient to winning business so most of my work comes through referrals. Referrals come through strong business relationships so it was a natural extension for me to work with Ascentiv and train others in how to get consistent and predictable referrals from their network.

What a fantastic way to earn a living!


07970 638857