It’s been a typical consultant’s year for me — periods of feast and famine and never being able to plan more than a month in advance. An article by Rob Levinson in the Wall Street Journal shows that even with success, free-agents ask different questions than would a full-time employee:
In my past life as a full-time employee, compensation, bonus structure, benefits and title were all that mattered when comparing assorted job offers. What else was there? For a consultant, the criteria for determining next steps are less clear. What are the relevant factors for solo consultants trying to chart a career path?
That’s because I have serious personal questions for myself. Do I focus on partnering with my colleague Kate and building her consultancy? Should my consulting firm be my first — and only — priority? Should I chart a growth strategy and think about hiring employees?
From Michael Cage, I also learned business lesson #1 again, and I became seriously immersed in blogging — moving to my own hosted site after having used Blogger and Quicktopic. A blog is definitely the best marketing tool for free-agents and small businesses, and it’s not about publishing a diary, but more about the network effect that makes blogging so powerful for small business. As Jon Udell says:
We can’t say exactly how the trick is done, but we understand the basics: a network, a message-passing protocol, nodes that aggregate inputs and produce outputs. The blog network shares these architectural properties. Its foundation network is the Web; its protocol is RSS; its nodes are bloggers. These ingredients combine in ways that are not yet widely appreciated.
Probably my greatest work achievement this year was in extending my network of friends, colleagues and fellow professionals through blogging in order to expand my own scope of learning and work. Knowing that I have this extended network makes me more optimistic about the coming year, because I know that I’m not alone 🙂