Monthly Archives: July 2015

Solo or not? Food for thought…

This post was inspired by Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo (R), to which I have subscribed for many years. He succinctly addresses some pros and cons of going solo.

Dr. Weiss is a leading advisor to consultants. While his focus is on management consulting, much of his advice also applies to technical consulting. *

One of the major differences I’ve seen in people’s choices of careers, often unconscious and unspoken, is affiliation needs. If you don’t need people around you, a solo career suits you fine.

But if you do, it can be enervating to work alone. I can work with people but I certainly don’t require it, and I’d see employees as just so many “baby chicks” to be fed constantly. However, some people derive ideas and strength from working amidst others, and don’t mind investing in a staff that can help grow the business.

I’ve seen too many entrepreneurs dragged under by the weight on nonproductive staff. Pay a salary to those who grow your business, not those who nest in your business. You’re running a company, not an employment agency.

— Monday Morning Memo 7/20/2015

I’ve seen the same myself. Should I go solo, find a partner, or grow the firm?

In my case, I started with a business partner. Most of the time, I advise against partnerships, as I have seen too many go bad. But when they work, the can be great — just like a good marriage. (47 years here…)

But even then, we acted semi-solo. We maintained separate companies for ourselves (payroll, invoicing, retirement funding) and shared a common company for common expenses and income. The goal was to be able to act independently if needed. And while not intended, it certainly simplified things when Bill recently passed away.

We did consider growth once, but only briefly. Business was booming, and we were subcontracting excess work. Not wishing to market or sell themselves, some of those subcontractors inquired about becoming employees.

But we quickly decided against it. Like Dr.Weiss, we were concerned with the need to feed the “baby chicks.” Besides, we figured they would get to do the fun stuff, while we’d be left with all the management tasks and headaches.

So we kept it semi-solo, and I’m glad we did. Perhaps we could have made more money — or perhaps lost it. It doesn’t matter, as we made enough and had a good time doing so.

But either way is fine – you need to decide what is best for you – even if it means climbing back into a corporate job. Saw that happen several years ago with an engineering colleague and friend who started a technical marketing consulting practice.

Thanks to his own creative marketing efforts, he soon developed a thriving practice. But then he abandoned it after about a year. He missed the camaraderie of working with other creative colleagues.

So he rejoined corporate America, and is happy with his decision. But he also now knows that if he ever wants or needs to go solo again, he can do it.

As for me, I’m now completely solo, and plan to stay that way!

* Click here for more info on Dr. Alan Weiss. Books, workshops, newsletters, and more.

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