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Choppy Waters Boost Freelance Consulting Demand

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Published:
July 20, 2020
Reading Time:
10 minutes
Oli Sharman
London-based Copywriter who drinks too much tea. Formerly of The Economist and Bloomberg.

Is it fair to talk about opportunity in the middle of a tragedy as devastating as Covid-19?

The coronavirus pandemic has torn the world apart. Businesses have gone bust, people have died, and there has been widespread suffering in different ways. Yet, as the world is still in the middle of its fight against the coronavirus, shifts in business activity have made it clear that there will be some lasting consequences to the way people work.

Freelance management consultants are shaping up to be more secure and more profitable than the traditional safety net of full-time employment. Let’s examine why.

Let's Recap

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused havoc to businesses all over the world.

In a very short space of time, businesses have had to adjust to significant changes in the way they operate. From staff working remotely to supply chain friction, almost every business has faced challenges during this pandemic. Governments have had to intervene in their economies in ways not seen before. This all happened at a rapid speed that has forced significant and sudden changes in consumer behavior and the way that businesses operate.

With many government-backed furlough schemes and other support packages coming to an end, now is the time that many companies are reopening for business amidst a great deal of uncertainty. As businesses continue to emerge over the coming months, most will look very different from how they looked at the start of the pandemic.

Freelance consultants are well placed to sail through the pandemic and ride the economic waves as the world recovers.

Rapid change requires rapid expertise

Covid-19 has forced many businesses to step back and reassess their business models. Viable, profitable businesses are being torn apart in the face of Covid-19 and there are many questions about how many will survive the months ahead.

With restaurants delivering food, gym sessions moving online, and meetings all over the world going online, the adjustments to businesses have been significant and widespread.

As businesses sail through unfamiliar waters, many need guidance from freelance consultants who know what they’re doing. The need for companies to get specific expertise onboard has been immediate and vital. The demand for quality consultants is increasing as businesses are keen to lock in the new skills they need before facing a shortage of available talent. Expertise comes as a cost and freelance consultants are an attractive option for senior managers because most consultants are happy to offer flexible, part-time contracts and work on projects in focused bursts.

It’s hard to understate the importance and the scale of the adjustments many businesses are making. New directions need new expertise. Freelance consultants offer fast, flexible access to the specialist knowledge that businesses lack. Nobody had time to plan for this scenario and build teams to reflect the new reality. Experienced freelance consultants have seen spikes in demand as businesses rush to adapt. The pandemic has forced a rapid change in many industries that don’t have the in-house expertise to adjust at the pace required. This is all happening at a time that budgets are being slashed, forecasts have been torn up, and firms are facing no choice but to make widespread layoffs.

Businesses like to work with freelance management consultants because it allows them to get specialized advice in focused bursts. Faced with a significant economic downturn, many senior managers view freelance consultants as a more appealing prospect than taking on full-time employees. External expertise can immediately hit the ground running, offer valuable insight into similar projects, and offer businesses the flexibility to quickly expand or contract resources and avoid fixed, long-term overheads.

Early investment in good advice saves future headaches. At times of business change, the foundations of new projects play a key part in future success. There have been many horror stories of businesses investing significant time and money in projects that were heading in the wrong direction thanks to bad advice at the start. Covid-19 offers a fresh start for many businesses who are recalibrating as they prepare to sail into choppy waters.

Paying for sharp, precise equipment often gets the job done better and quicker than more generic tools. The same is true for business transformation. Relying on existing, broad knowledge to rapidly adjust focus into new areas can cause headaches and errors compared to the experienced, specific expertise that is available.

Using independent freelance consultants allows businesses to scale resources up or down as requirements change. The time pressures related to the pandemic have meant that companies need to move fast and use consultants who are already up to speed. Businesses like to use freelancers because it helps ensure that they keep getting the level of performance that they expect. It’s far quicker and easier for a business to change a freelance consultant compared to a full-time employee on a permanent contract.

It works for freelance consultants too

The freedom to work with a range of clients can help freelance experts develop their professional skills. Most companies are not reinventing the wheel with their projects and, as a freelance consultant, your previous work on similar projects can be a great asset.

A real benefit of working across different businesses on different projects is that you rapidly develop expertise by solving similar problems in a variety of different settings. This helps to prepare you to quickly know how to solve future problems as they come up. Clients recognize the value of this experience and are willing to invest in freelance consultants who can offer them the service and advice that they need.

freelance management consultants, Choppy Waters Boost Freelance Consulting Demand

Freelance consultants don’t have the luxury of being reactive and passive to requests from their clients; companies pay for expertise and expect consultants to be proactive in delivering results. With coronavirus causing businesses to rapidly branch out into unfamiliar sectors, freelance management consultants are playing an increasingly important role in shaping the direction businesses head in as they navigate the challenging economic environment. This high level of influence can be very rewarding for freelancers who like to feel valued for the work they do.

As a freelance consultant working at a time of rapid change, a key benefit you have is the freedom to choose who to work with. With the pandemic resulting in many businesses going bust, being able to build a portfolio of different clients offers freelancers a higher level of protection than relying on one single employer. Due to the nature of running your own freelance business, it’s also far quicker to move from contract to contract compared to moving from full-time job to full-time job. Given how widespread remote working has become during the Covid-19 pandemic, clients will be far more willing to work with remote experts now and in the future. This can significantly expand the number of clients you can work with by widening your geographic reach and reducing time spent on-site.

For most people, the earning potential of running your own freelance consultancy business is much higher than working as a full-time employee. Through running your schedule and setting your rates, as a freelancer your pay can significantly beat traditional full-time roles that have fixed pay packages that can sit still for years. Many of the coronavirus-related business changes that consultants are hired to work on are key to business survival and expansion, and this is often reflected in the level of pay.

Bring it on

The sudden need for businesses to change quickly has boosted the demand for specialized, external expertise. Freelance consultants are well placed to sail through the pandemic and ride the economic waves as the world recovers.

While freelancing comes with elements of risk, so does crossing the road or taking a full-time role. The rewards available to many freelance consultants make the risks worthwhile. Working on freelance projects as an independent consultant offers significant opportunities for professional growth by tackling a range of challenging projects and working with a variety of clients.

With a broader acceptance of remote working, new markets and opportunities are opening all the time. Traditional barriers have broken down and companies are offering a greater level of flexibility to change the way they do things now and in the future. It’s safe to say that many of these changes have happened following the advice of experienced, independent consultants.