Consulting for Your Old Employer
Consulting for your old employer is a popular way to change from being employed to self-employed, while saving yourself some of the hassles of building up a client base. It’s not an option that’s available to everyone, though, as it largely depends on how you performed in your role, whether your leaving has impacted negatively on the company, and what type of industry you work in.
Roles Suited to ConsultancyThe most popular fields for continued consultancy work include financial services, human resources, marketing, public relations and editorial roles. As a rule, employment with a large element of sales, targets or client development tend not to translate too well to consultancy as your ‘insider knowledge’ of clients and practices may be considered too valuable for you to be able to work with your old employer as well as others. That said, if you only have your old employer as a client in that field, it may be possible, but do remember that the Inland Revenue does not consider working for only one client on a long-term basis as ‘grounds’ for self-employment.
How to Make it WorkIn order to make a success of consulting for your old employer as a career choice for self-employment, it is imperative that mutually acceptable ground rules are established. There is rarely that sense of a ‘safety net’ when initially handing in your notice, with no guarantees that the company will continue to use your services, so it is best to have a clear business plan with other clients and potential clients on board beforehand. You'll find that the transition is not always seamless, and you may need a period of time between leaving your old employer, setting up as Self-employed and then offering consultancy services, rather than simply continuing the same but with a different contract.
It can be hard to make the transition from employee to consultant, and to some extent the relationship will always keep an air of that ‘superiority’, but as long as you consistently work well and act in the manner of a consultant rather than an employee, in time it will change.
Consultant Not EmployeeIt is a good idea to separate yourself from some of the day-to-day office activities that can define the role of an employee, such not getting involved in Office Gossip or not attending the Christmas party. This way, your role as a consultant will carry more weight, and the perception of your role and value to the company will increase. This is especially important when it comes to Negotiating Fees, as you will need to show that you are worth the increased fee compared to being an employee.
For all the potential negatives to consulting for your old employer, there are a number of benefits for both parties. First of all, you will know the company so any learning curve will be greatly reduced. Second, you will be able to fulfil the role as needed without an extraneous time or money, allowing you to work with other clients and build up your self-employed customer base and giving your old employers a value for money service.
This all highlights the importance of getting the paperwork and contractual requirements clearly out in the open prior to starting as a consultant for your old employer, and making sure that you act as a consultant, rather than an employee.