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• You will be doing work that is most important to the top boss.
• You will be better than anybody else in a similar position.
• And you will begin to seem—and eventually be—invaluable and irreplaceable.
You will also be—in case you happen to be in the very rare situation of working for a business whose decision makers are so dense they don’t recognize your full value—in a position to take your skills elsewhere—or sell them to your business as a freelance consultant.
HOW TO BECOME A CONSULTANT TO YOUR OWN COMPANY
The single biggest complaint I’ve received since I started writing Early to Rise has come from my clients. “Stop telling our best employees to become freelance consultants!”
What happens is this: Some enterprising young person takes my advice to heart and transforms himself into a bona fide marketing genius in (usually) three or four years. Then he either demands a huge salary increase or offers to provide future services on a freelance basis.
The complaint is about compensation. “He was making $40,000 a year before he started reading ETR. Now he’s given us a proposal that will cost more than three times that much.”
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I am not happy this is happening. Well, maybe I am. But I am a little bit embarrassed to have to point out the following:
If your employee transforms himself from a good, hard worker who is worth $40,000 into a marketing genius worth three times that much, that means he is making your business worth that much more. Since his compensation is, and always will be (even as a consultant), a fraction of what he gets paid, the more he makes, the better his boss should like it.
In the businesses I’ve owned, I’ve always been thrilled to see my employees make this kind of transition. That’s because I knew how valuable they were to me. For every dollar extra they earned, my business gained 10. Who could resent that?
And I’m not the only one who likes to see his employees get rich. Most of the best businesspeople I know are thrilled to award high incomes to employees who earn them. So don’t worry. You’ll almost certainly get the salary you are seeking if you do what I told you to do:
• Put yourself into your company’s profit stream.
• Help make your business more profitable.
• Internally publicize your value.
• Expect to be properly compensated.
If you work for a small to medium-sized growing business, you shouldn’t have any trouble getting the money you deserve. But with larger, older organizations, fair compensation is sometimes a problem. That’s because some corporate leaders forget their focus and create agendas that are about politics (power) rather than business (profits).
If you get stuck in such a situation, you need to gradually reposition yourself as a self-employed consultant. There are plenty of books and programs on the subject of setting up your own consultancy, including one from the American Consultants League (americancon sultantsleague.com). Basically, here’s how to do it.
Plan A: Try to Stay on the Payroll
The moment you made the decision to become a consultant, the relationship you had with your employer changed—even if he or she didn’t realize it. In this new context, your employer is a prospective
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client, and as such, must be treated with all the coddling and cuddling any future client would merit.
In the months and weeks prior to your changeover, make sure that your reputation goes from good to unimpeachable. Meanwhile . . . develop a secret plan.
Don’t announce your intentions—at least, not immediately. Focus on doing a great job, increasing your financially valued skill, and building profits for your company. In the meantime, create yearly, monthly, and weekly objectives for your new career.
Plan to make at least twice as much per hour as you do now. Remember, as a freelance consultant, you’ll have some additional expenses. Plan for these expenses, too. Your initial goal will be to net 110 percent of your current salary in your first full-time year. But you should expect your income to go up somewhat substantially after that. I have mentored at least a dozen people who have made this transition—and I can’t think of one who didn’t end up making at least double the salary he left by the end of his third year as a consultant.
After you have perfected your skill and established your goals, it’s time to make your pitch. If you adhere to the following guidelines, your risk of failure will be almost nil:
1. Don’t be resentful. You tried to persuade your boss to pay you the big bucks you deserved, and he or she didn’t. That’s water under the bridge. You won’t win any points by bringing up the subject again.
2. Make the message positive. Even if you have banished resentment from your feelings entirely, it’s not advisable to tell your boss that the reason you want to stop working at the company is to go into business yourself and make more money. Your making money is not the boss’s top priority. (If that wasn’t clear to you when you failed to get the raise you wanted, it should be obvious now.)