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In episode 34 of “The JoyPowered™ Workspace Podcast,” JoDee and Susan discuss a question they get a lot: “How do I become an HR Consultant?”. Topics include how to get started, how to determine how much to charge, and how to get the word out about your consulting business. Listener Hayley wonders when (or if) it’s appropriate to tell the accused in a sexual harassment investigation who accused them.
A lot of people say they want to become consultants; they long to set their own schedule and have a variety of different things to do. The good news is, there’s no magic number of years of experience you need to become a consultant, and it’s not necessary to specialize unless you want to. It is a good idea to get certifications, though; it builds credibility with clients and customers, and shows that you’re disciplined, committed, and staying current. Get involved in local professional organizations, too, because you can meet potential clients, referrals, or resources.
If you decide to become an independent consultant, the first thing you need to do is to decide whether you want to set up an LLC, DBA, or C Corp. Get organized and set yourself up for success with taxes, because they’ll be different from taxes when you were an employee. Get used to tracking your hours so you understand how long it takes you to get projects done and you can charge a project fee that makes sense.
Most people start out charging too low, because they lack the confidence to charge the higher rate. You can always negotiate down, but it’s harder to raise your rate over time. Make sure you’re taking into account the extra non-billable time you’re spending on proposals, marketing, accounting, etc., and the taxes you’re going to have to pay that you didn’t pay as an employee.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money on marketing to begin with; networking and referrals can be a great way to get started. Other inexpensive ways to market your consulting business are social media, speaking, conferences, and blogs. There are online resources where you can find consulting jobs, as well.
In this episode’s listener mail, Hayley asks at what point during a sexual harassment investigation it’s appropriate or inappropriate to tell the accused who accused them. JoDee and Susan discuss an article listing the top 5 issues in HR for 2018.