Becoming a Contractor: Part 1 – Where to start?

This is the first post in a series on becoming an independent contractor, a dream of mine that I’m finally on the way to living out.  

Since I first started work, I’ve had in the back of my mind that what I really wanted to do was become a consultant trainer.  Of course, when I started, I was actually headed more towards becoming a research technologist in a lab.  So it took a fair while for me to acknowledge this dream.  When I finally did start in Learning and Development, the idea may have popped up once or twice, but it seemed MILES away, given that I was in an entry level job.

Now, after 6 months in said entry level job and 12 months in a higher level project management job, and plans to study and create a niche for myself, the dream is back on the cards!

When I left my job to study and figure out my life, the dream was there, guiding me towards where I wanted to be.  But it still seemed like a long term goal.  A direction to head in, but more like a 5 year goal than a 2 year goal.

But in the last 7 days, I have had 3 different offers of potential contract work.  I don’t know if any of them will come to fruition (I am concerned about my ability to add more work to the work/study mix – heck I’m worried about working and studying without adding anything more!), but just having those offers there makes me think this might be real.  This might be something I really do!

So now I need to figure out where to start.  So far my checklist looks a little like this:

  • Figure out a name for my company
  • Register as an employer with the IRD
  • Create a logo
  • Research market rates for contractors in L&D and career development
  • Get out there and do some work!

As you can see, I’ve got a long way to go.

But, so far, I’ve got one tip:

  1. Network your heart out when you’re working, and draw on those networks later.
    All of the people who have offered me work have been people I worked with at my last company.  I worked with them at different times, in different environments.  One of them I’ve only worked with in a Technologist role – he hasn’t seen my L&D work at all.  But the fact that I worked with them, made a good impression, and kept up my network has opened up opportunities for me!

Any tips for me?  Does my checklist cover it? Has anyone else branched out on their own? How did you do it?

Wish me luck!


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