“Sure! Let me get back to you on that.”
As I hung up the phone, I wondered at how my work life had changed over the years. At the time, I was working full-time as the HR manager for a startup company, but the phone call was from another company in town looking for a few hours of HR project support.
All of my life, I have wanted to “do my own thing.” While my wife has known that since we first met, she has told all along that she never wants me to own my own business. Funny enough, I often have to remind her that I’m already doing it, just not in the traditional sense.
If you have the interest and the availability, you could do the very same thing. Here’s how I made it work for me:
In the beginning
I’ve been working in the HR/recruiting profession for years, but I’ve also always had that nagging feeling that I wanted more control over my schedule and the types of work that I do. Over time, I have made friends aware of that. So, naturally, when one of them learned that a local company was looking for someone to help them implement some new HR policies for their growing company, they reached out to me first to see if I would like to help.
I’ll be honest—the first meeting with the CEO and Vice President of the company was pretty stressful. They wanted some help in defining their hiring methods, creating documents to support the new process, and so on. It was all work that I’ve had experience doing, but stepping out from under the corporate umbrella on my own felt just plain weird.
I told them that I could do the work for them, offered a (laughably) low rate for the project, and shook hands to seal the deal.
Over the following weeks, I provided them with the various work products and consulting time they had requested, and when I finally received the check in the mail, I felt something special stir in my heart. At the time, I wasn’t sure what that was, but now I can say with certainty what I was feeling.
What we all want
In that moment, standing at the mailbox and looking at the check, I realized that someone else thought that my knowledge and expertise was valuable enough to pay me for it. I think that’s a big hurdle for many of us to get over, so I will say it again: Someone else thought my knowledge was worth paying for.
I think it’s something we all hope for. We want to be worth something. We want others to value what we have to say. And if we can get paid for doing those things, then that’s the best of both worlds.
Advice on starting
Are you interested in picking up some extra work? Maybe you’d like to start that consulting business you’ve dreamed of? Whatever the case, consider this: You are good enough at something that people will pay you for it.
In order to do this, you need to understand:
- What that is
- How you can position it
- How you can get connected to clients
If you can do all three of those, you’ll have your first gig before you know it.
In the business world, we call that your unique value proposition. Know what you can bring that someone else can’t, be able to communicate the value of that knowledge/service, and find people who are willing to pay to have that type of problem solved. Even if you’re approaching a company about a job and not in a consulting role, the same rules apply.
It really is that easy, as my own example shows. What are your thoughts? Have you done something similar?
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