Evolving from Side Hustle to Full-Time Consulting

I should have done it a long time ago. I wish I had made the change from side hustle to full-time consulting years before I did it.

I had a ‘side-hustle’ consulting business for a long time – more than 15 years. It took me that long to realize I really should become a full-time consultant and start an “official business.” One that is registered with the state and federal government.

During those 15+ years, I didn’t know that the side-hustle would turn into a full-time consulting business. But I’m so glad it has evolved into the organization it has become at the Institute for Effectiveness in Higher Education.

Make It Official!Briefcase On Leaves - symbolizing consulting

But – I wish someone had said to me, “You’ve been doing consulting for a while … Take the time to officially register your business.” Even if you only continue consulting as a side-gig, it’s good to ‘make it official’ for a variety of reasons. And, doing so allows you to easily evolve from side-hustle to full-time consulting.

I looked into the business registration process many times – and it seemed ‘clear as mud.’ What forms did I need to complete? Do I need a lawyer to submit the paperwork? How much is all of this really going to cost? Naturally, I got discouraged – so the task moved to the bottom of the list.

Of course, I wish I had officially registered my business years ago. In reality, I was already expanding my consulting business into my full-time role – full steam ahead. I can’t believe that was nearly three years ago.

Increased Interest in Consulting Businesses

Since the pandemic, a number of people – colleagues of colleagues, strangers, and friends – have reached out to ask me more about setting up their own business. Some wanted to make the transition before COVID. They really didn’t find their job fulfilling anymore, and the pandemic has put that into perspective. Others have been laid off, and want to take this opportunity to strike out on their own for a while.

You might be thinking – “Isn’t this the worst time to start any business?” I wondered that too … so – you guessed it – I looked at the data! Census Bureau data (as analyzed by Chartr) show that, “In the last four weeks [published July 29, 2020] a lot of potential entrepreneurs have taken a big step, with over 450,000 new business applications being filed in the US. That is more than double the typical volume from the last 15 years or so – applications have usually hovered a little over 200,000 every 4 weeks.”

If that’s not compelling enough. . .

In 2019, according to Upwork, more than 53 million people did freelance work. That’s about 35% of the workforce. Who knew?!? And – freelancers are expected to constitute the majority of the workforce by 2027.  Which makes sense – traditional W-2 positions are not as secure as they used to be. And – many organizations are outsourcing select roles for high quality expertise.

Evolving from Side-Hustle to Full-Time Consulting

To help more people who have a side-hustle make their consulting business official, I’ve created a two-week course “Evolving from Side-Hustle to Full-Time Consulting.” I designed the course to help folks through the process of officially registering their business. From understanding the interconnected decisions of business name, to testing out your business name, finding a website address, and deciding on a business structure type. Consultants in any industry will find the course helpful – not just higher ed. If you are interested in coaching sessions, contact us for a 30 minute consultation to discuss your goals.

Starting A Consulting Business on a Budget

One of the most frequent questions I get is — “How much does it cost to get a consulting business going?” So I’ve put together a simple “calculator” with a list of expenses and estimates. There are a few blank lines so that you can add in your own expenses, custom to your business. For example, if you know you’ll need to buy a subscription to a specific organization to do your work, include it. Or, if you know you’ll need to buy a computer, add in the amount. The total may still be scary, but when you put it on paper — it becomes a known amount — rather than an unknown. Working towards the known is possible. You can download the calculator and begin estimating your start up costs. The next step is to check out the course, where I’ll break down the steps for officially registering your business.

Learn More

This course is open for enrollment. View a preview of the course to see if it is right for you. Still have questions? Email us at support@instituteforeffectiveness.org

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The Institute for Effectiveness in Higher Education (IEHE) innovates and improves higher education standards through our strategic research, publicly available resources, and partnerships with colleges and universities. We provide extensive expertise on data strategy, IPEDS, institutional research and student success to drive institutional effectiveness.