taking the leap

7 Myths About Consulting You Shouldn’t Believe

Most communications professionals have done it, whether they admit to it or not: they fantasize about becoming an independent consultant. So why haven’t you taken action?

Solo PR Pros have a great life, and it’s unfortunate that a few urban legends may prevent some professionals from embracing this career path. Don’t let the following myths stand in your way:

Myth #1: Being an independent PR consultant isn’t a long-term career path – people just do it between jobs or while building an agency

Starting a solo business is indeed an excellent way to jumpstart the building of a larger agency. It can also be useful for those who are between positions to generate some side income.

However, many thousands of people spend most of their career as an independent PR professional. I’m happy to say I’ve worked successfully as a solo PR pro for more than 15 years.

Myth #2: To begin, you need to have significant startup funds to secure a brick-and-mortar office, marketing materials, and more

Though having some basic promotion in place is beneficial, many PR pros start consulting with a budget of… zero dollars. A good reputation and a healthy professional network are the foundations of an independent consultancy – if you have that, you can begin. Obviously, the more money you have in savings the better off you’ll be long-term, but you don’t need to spend a lot of funds up front to get started.

Further, the days when a home-based business was considered small-time are over. Working from home has become so commonplace in business today, no one will bat an eye.

Myth #3: Solo PR pros are at a disadvantage when it comes to winning clients

While we often refer to ourselves as “solo,” this is a misnomer. We operate our businesses independently, but few of us work in isolation.

Through subcontracting agreements among solos, virtual agencies are commonplace, and many clients are completely used to and comfortable with this model of operation. In fact, these arrangements can be a great advantage in attracting new business. Because there are no set, pre-defined teams, each new business proposal can include the most skilled and experienced professionals specifically for each client.

Myth #4: Independent consultants have limited income

This is far from accurate! In truth, the US Department of Labor reports that “full-time, independent contractors earn more than average traditional workers.” Surveys show that a large percentage of indies earn well into the six figures.

Myth #5: You need decades of experience to succeed as a solo

This is probably less of an issue than you think. I started my successful PR consulting business after just four years of working in traditional agencies. I even had a brief stint as a low-end PR freelancer after just two years of experience. While your fees will of course vary based on your background, at virtually every step of your career there are opportunities to freelance and consult.

Myth #6: Independent consultants don’t get to work on exciting projects or contracts

In fact, it’s usually just the opposite. Being an independent consultant means we’re able to seek out the most interesting and challenging projects at any given time. Personally, I love that I don’t have to worry about boredom or ethical dilemmas, because I have the ability to build my business as I see fit. It also means that I get to work with a large variety of clients and people, which keeps things fresh.

Myth #7: Independents are all competing for the same business – only a handful are successful

This one may seem puzzling to those who aren’t part of the indie ranks, but solo PR pros typically do not view each other as competition. In fact, we offer each other a helping hand on a regular basis. We refer business to each other based on our areas of expertise, and we also provide important moral support. Even for those of us who’ve been doing this a while, there are always new skills to learn and innovative tools to try.

The Solo PR Pro community is one example of this camaraderie. Just reach out to those who have more – or different – experience than your own, and a wealth of knowledge will be opened to you

For many of us, nothing can replace the fun and satisfaction of being your own boss and controlling your own destiny. The key to remember is that Solo PR Pros are not born, they’re made. If you’re interested in this career path, don’t let the myths dissuade you!

If you have any questions about the myths that may be holding you back, let us know in the comments and we’ll be happy to help!

Photo credit: victuallers2

  • Kellye, super post and still right on target. While it is much easier to start your independent practice with a business line of credit and cash on hand to see you through the lean months, in retrospect I didn’t need either one. My total investment was $2,500 for a top notch graphic designer to create my brand identity, $1,500 for a website (this was pre Word Press with a custom CMS), and an IKEA desk. That’s it.

    I will admit though – the photo is right on, that’s exactly how I felt! But I got over it within a few weeks. Best thing I ever did.

  • Delayed thanks for weighing in, Gayle! It’s been a long time ago now, but believe I started my business with more like $100. I had clients before I even had business cards – it can be done!