Want to be a consultant?

Once in a while, I have thoughts (scary ones!) about losing my job. I don’t have these thoughts for any particular reason. They just kind of pop into my head.

When they do come into my head, I always wonder what life would be like if I decided to work as a freelancer instead of as an employee. Steve Friedl has written what I think is a great post of guidelines for consultants. In reality, many of his guidelines apply to business in general.

Some examples:

“Trust” is your best job security
You are primarily in the customer service business, not the technical business
If you routinely take ownership for your own mistakes, you’re much more likely to be believed when you claim something is NOT your doing
It’s a huge asset to communicate well — cultivate this skill vigorously
The best way to make a lot of money is to make your customers a lot of money
Being known for your integrity is the Holy Grail of consulting

A lot of these “maxims” come down the Golden Rule. If you treat your customers the way you would wish to be treated when you’re the consumer, you’ll do just fine. I’m fortunate to work for a company that takes that philosophy to heart from the top down. We really do try to do what’s best for our customers, even if it sometimes costs us a little money. Because of this culture, the company has a low turnover rate with regard to our customers and with our employees.

If I ever found myself needing to support myself as a consultant, I’ll try to follow all of Steve’s maxims.

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