Employee Mentality – 5 Thoughts You Need To Leave Behind In Order to Succeed as Contractor/Consultant
I recently penned a piece on the top mistakes independent contractors and consultants make, and one of those mistakes was keeping an employee mentality. In the piece, I only mentioned how an employee mentality keeps you from seeing and marketing yourself as a business owner. But in actuality, there are several more implications.
Not sure if you have the employee mentality? Here are the top things ways I see the employer mindset manifesting dangerously in consultants.
You want someone to tell you how you should run your business. What I have witnessed the most with new contractor/consultants who I work with in my brand coaching program for new business owners, is they rely too heavily on their clients to guide the relationship. They want to be told how the engagement will work, and what their own process should look like. This reeks of the employee mentality that says “go to work, do what your boss tells you what to do, and wait for your boss to tell you if you’ve done a good job. If your way of doing things is not in alignment with how the company does things, you will be reprimanded and you’ll have to change.” However when you’re a contractor, and you own your own business, your process is yours to design. It’s up to you to decide how you work and what your process is for delivering the results. You cannot delegate that authority to the client. They have hired you for your expertise.
You ignore the business of your business. Handling the insurance, securing legal protection, all of those hairy details that are generally handled by a larger company when you’re an employee? Sorry to inform you that now you have to manage those yourself. And it’s easy to think that the client will give you a heads up to make sure that you’re legally protected, that you have adequate insurance, and that now is probably a good time to send in your invoice if you want to be paid this month. But that’s not always the case. It’s up to you to get your invoices in on time. It’s up to you to follow up when that invoice has not been paid. It’s up to you to manage not just the process of getting your work done, but also getting paid, scheduling appointments, paying taxes, managing your support staff, etc.
You’re not ready to hit the ground running and expect the client to hold your hand. Unlike at your full-time job, there really is no three-month probationary period. And frankly, your clients don’t owe you one. They do not owe you three months to learn the job because they expect you to know how to do what you were hired to do from day one. When you’re hired as a contractor/consultant, you are brought in to do a specific job. You are hired to get specific results. And if you do not perform, you become a liability for the company that hired you – you become a waste of money, and worse, a waste of time.
You want to work “normal” hours. If you want a 9-to-5 you should work for someone else. Because f you’re doing it right, in the very beginning, working independently will not be an eight-hour-a-day proposition. It’ll be an all day and sometimes all night thing at times. Remember, you have to factor in not just doing your work, but marketing yourself, drafting letters of agreement, billing, admin time,etc.
You still believe in sick days and other
reasons you can’t get your work done excuses. If it’s 8pm and you have a meeting (with deliverables due tomorrow morning), but you’re laid up with the flu, that’s going to be a problem for your client. While they may be polite and won’t say as much, your client does not want to hear about the myriad of scenarios that may have kept you from getting the job done. They don’t care that you had a flat tire, or that your kid got sick, or that your other client also had a huge project due this week (they really do not want to hear about your other clients, ever). They just want their work. On time. Sick days are for employees.