8 Tips for the Free Agents and Consultants

This post is for those who are TRANSITIONING or have already TRANSITIONED from an organizational environment to being a lone ranger, an entrepreneur, "consultant" or "free agent" - whether you are starting your own business, beginning a new season as a "free agent" or "consultant," or just continuing to live life as a true entrepreneur. I have lots and lots of friends who are in this season of life. More and more leaders I know are ending up in this space, because the opportunity is available like never before to be your own boss. They've decided to branch out on their own and chase the dream without an organization behind them. Whether leaving the corporate world, or the non-profit world, or leaving a ministry, or leaving a church environment, they have now decided to go at it on their own. Without the comfort and safety of an organization behind them.

We work with lots of these "free agents." Our Catalyst full-time team is really small compared to the amount of people it takes to put on what we do, so we are constantly hiring free agents and consultants.

So, as someone who might be hiring you to "consult" or provide advice or be a free agent on my team, let me provide a bit of perspective:

1. You currently think you're worth way more than you really are. Most of the time when you transition from a church environment or ministry environment, the first thing you want to do is make way more money than you did before. Let me give you some advice- until you prove that you can deliver, you'll probably make LESS than you did before. Your get rich quick scheme has no legs, so wake up to the reality that you really have to deliver before the money will start pouring in.

2. You think you're busier than you really are. You might feel busy, but are you really getting things done or just creating a lot of stir and hype? You've found this new found freedom in working on your own and having yourself as your boss, and the tendency might be to become a "40-hour workweek snob," where you think everyone who works long weeks in an organizational environment is wasting time. Don't tell me about how busy you are. Just get it done. Your quick reality is that time and normal will not be normal. You're being hired to get things done.

3. You think everyone wants to work with you. Reality is, they don't. Not yet anyway. You might have been the big man or big women on campus in your last season, but now you're on your own, and there are LOTS and LOTS of other free agents and consultants ready to step in and steal your thunder.

So what are practical ways to deal with this tendency?

4. Hustle. Pure and simple. You are going to have to outwork, outthink, outcreate, and outhustle the other free agents.

5. Deliver homeruns on every project you're working on. This is HUGE. And very important especially when you are starting out. No singles or doubles. Homeruns. You're establishing your own personal brand, and expectations on what it will look like to work with you in the future. So OVER DELIVER. Regardless of who the client is or what the project is. The word will get around. Don't worry.

6. Become an Expert and a Learner. Since you really don't know it all, you should be incredibly intentional about trying to learn it all. Become an expert by learning from everyone.

7. Be HUMBLE. Again, no one wants to work with you if you are cocky and arrogant and full of yourself. They might for a while, but over time, the opportunities will dissipate and you'll wonder why. I don't care if you are the best in the world at what you do- if you are arrogant and difficult to work with, I'll choose the other option every time.

8. Be Collaborative. It's important you know how to work well with others, especially since you'll many times be splitting time on a project with some of your competitors or folks who provide the same service. If you can't partner well and be collaborative and work with others to get something done, you won't get hired again.