Four years later …


Today marks four years as a free-agent for me. This has been a learning experience every day and I still don’t have any easy answers for anyone else considering the life of an independent consultant. The best part is the lifestyle and the flexibility while the worst aspect is constantly chasing after more work and managing cash-flow (that’s the part that people with regular paycheques don’t understand).

There have definitely been some interesting aspects to this career choice. On the positive side, because of my blog, clients have found me through search engines. On the negative side, I’ve had clients go bankrupt before paying me and I’ve also been stiffed for my services. I’ve learned something from every one of my clients and I have especially enjoyed some of the non-profit organisations, with their unique challenges.

I would not have been able to go out on my own if the Web didn’t exist, as much of my work is at a distance. I’ve had several clients whom I’ve never met face to face. However, I think that my frequent slow periods may be a result of not enough face to face encounters. People forget you when they don’t see you regularly and that’s a disadvantage of living in sparsely populated Atlantic Canada. Obviously, not everyone lives on the Web.

At this time, my hope is to celebrate my fifth anniversary.

Photo of Monet’s, The Four Trees, by Maulleigh.

8 Responses to “Four years later …”

  1. Michele Martin

    Harold, I feel both your pains and your pleasures. I’ve been doing the independent thing off and on (mostly on) for the past 10 years and it’s still a decision that I question at times, especially in the slow months.

    As an introvert, I definitely have a hard time with the whole networking thing and probably have an over-reliance on word of mouth to sell my services. Part of my personal problem is “Renaissance Woman” syndrome where I’m interested in and able to do a number of different, un-related things, which sometimes makes it difficult to sell myself. People want to put you in a box and if you don’t fit into that box, they aren’t quite sure what to do with you. However, I love what I do and the freedom to do it, so I persist.

    Anyway–I just wanted to let you know that you’re not alone. Here’s to your next four year and beyond!

  2. Laurie Tarto

    Hi Harold,
    I came upon your site about a month ago while doing a search on training development officer. I live near CFB Borden. I was initially taken in by the image of PEI landscape and barn, as I’ve visted PEI a handful of times (today’s Monet is what’s finally got me to comment). I left a Web development job to make a shift into training, thinking I’d get to the higher level issues and have more opportunities in education. Alas, I’m in the public school Board training teachers on computers. I’m 2 years in and it’s become apparant you don’t get anywhere without a teaching certificate or you’re some relation. As I’m at the stage of starting a family and live in the sticks, I’m trying to see how to get to staying home as a consultant when they’re young. My husband is a builder, so I’ve felt the strain of cash flow. I’ve enjoyed clicking on a topic based on where my focus is that day and going through your past posts. Thanks for bringing us along your journey.

  3. Gil Freund

    After about 15 years as a freelancer (and that was four years ago) I came across a questionnaire which was suppose to evaluate my readiness to become self employed.

    I failed miserably…

    I guess this was about the same time you started out. We are both still around.

  4. Marco Polo

    This seems a good time to wish you well, and say I enjoy reading your site. I particularly enjoyed and benefited from the links to the books by Mager and Pipe. I borrowed “Preparing Instructional Objectives” and dearly wished I had been forced to read this 20 years ago when I started my teaching career (tho I would probably have thrown it away unread, thinking “I know that”). It has been invaluable and has greatly affected my teaching.

  5. Harold

    Michele, Laurie, Gil & Marco: thanks very much for your words of encouragement.

    BTW, I live in New Brunswick, but it’s only a short drive to PEI 😉

  6. Dave F.


    I’ve been an infrequent visitor of late, so am tardy in congratulating you.

    I was a corporate employee for 28 years, and have worked as an independent person for six now. The balance is always hard, but it’s hard for the corporation as well — as any corporate employee will recognize. Neither is “better” than the other, objectively — it’s more the match between the individual and the position. I’m always trying to refine what it is I do in ways that make sense both to me and to potential clients.

    Maintain your optimism; it serves you well.


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