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Consulting 101: Independence

Posted on: November 11, 2015

I have not been an independent consultant for very long. However, I have learnt a lot during this time and I thought I should reflect on and share what I have discovered. I will do this over a few blog entries.

Polish Independence Day by crises_crs, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License   by  crises_crs 

The first is having to DIY (do it yourself). Everything is DIY.

There is a reason why independent consultant is written that way. You have to be independent first.

When working for an organisation, others take care of salary, CPF and other deductions, medical insurance, leave, benefits, income tax procedures, and a host of things that we would normally take for granted.

For example, most employees in Singapore not only enjoy relatively low income tax, what tax we pay is computer-automated. Often we need only log in once a year, click a few times, and forget about it till the next year.

When you work independently, you have to keep track of what you make, document it, and manually fill in the forms for yourself. Basic medical insurance (which used to be automatically deducted) is something you have to also manually set aside and pay for.

All this is relatively easy because they are about obeying laws and balancing numbers. 

Being independent might also mean being a one-person show.

I have to be my own publicist, letter writer, content negotiator, Gebiz administrator, instructional designer, content creator, self-trainer, speech writer, event facilitator, social networker, programme evaluator, financial officer, and debt collector among several other things. And this often happens for practically every engagement. 

It is cycling without training wheels. It is like catching and milking your own cow. It is jumping without a safety net.

It is hard work. But, boy, it is as exhilarating as it is exhausting.

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