Make Existing Employer your FIRST CLIENT (SMB Consulting Best Practices book excerpt)

Howdy there – I am the author for the above title and I like to post up a passage a day as my virtual book reading. Toda’ys topic has a twist since I wrote the following passage a few years ago. Imagine walking into your existing employer TODAY and asking to be discharged or terminated> the twist being to start tomorrow as this employer’s new SMB technology consultant. Seriously – might not be a bad strategy given the possiblities you might be facing a layoff. Think about getting ahead of the curve!

Capitalizing on an existing employer

Perhaps you’ve seen this. One of the most tried-and-true methods of gaining your first client is turning your existing employer into a client. Consider the following:

·        Changing your status from W-2 to 1099 (applicable in the US) Perhaps you can work for your existing employer as a contractor. Not only does the treatment of your income change for tax purposes, but it also absolves you of the employer/employee relationship. As a contractor, you typically have fewer restrictions on additional, outside work, allowing you to build your SMB consulting practice. Be advised that I’ve been told similar tax status issues exist in other countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom, but I’m not qualified to discuss those matters.

BEST PRACTICE: In fact, some clients for whom you serve as a contractor will demand that you have a diverse client base. Here is what I mean. I serve Microsoft on an occasional basis as a ven­dor. In order to become a vendor, Microsoft needs to see evidence that I am a real company and have a portfolio of real clients. Microsoft is not interested in having a “perma-temp” relationship with me, where we dupe taxation authorities by their calling me a contractor but really treating me like a full-time employee. You can share this story with an existing employer as a bona fide rea­son why, upon changing your status to that of contractor, you need to proceed in all haste and land some additional client accounts.

·         Shift changes — Many people contract back to their existing em­ployers so that they can work fewer hours. This is common with new moms who must continue to work but want to back off the profes­sional pace a tad. You might consider that same strategy when you make the break as an SMB consultant. Instead of working 40+ hours per week as a salaried or exempt employee, you might elect to work 20 hours per week as a contractor, freeing up the time needed to start your SMB consulting practice.

BEST PRACTICE: Perhaps you’ve observed that people who return as consultants to their existing employers often do so at a higher billing rate than their previous wage. There are several reasons

why this occurs, including the contractor’s incurring overhead expenses, such as medical insurance and self-employment taxes. For this and other reasons, employers often have to pay a slightly higher wage for the flexible staffing option that contractors pro­vide. This flexibility includes the ability for employers who are dissatisfied with contractors to terminate the business relationship immediately with little fear of wrongful discharge litigation. By using contractors, employers typically don’t have to issue layoff notices.




Harry Brelsford, CEO at smb nation

Microsoft Small Business Specialist SBSC, MBA, MCSE, MCT, MCP, CNE, CLSE, CNP

PS – did u know I host a technology conference in the New York City area each spring? Save the date for March 6-8, 2009 and watch “voice meet data” in the SMB space!

PPS – my SBS 2008 book will be out in mid-November 2008!

PPPS – my Microsoft Response Point Primer book is here NOW!


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