I have been working for a mid-sized consulting firm for several years and am considering leaving to start my own practice? What factors should I consider?
More than perhaps any other decision in consulting, this is a personal one that depends on your circumstances as well as your preferences and tolerances. Many of the factors that led you to choose a consulting career (intellectual stimulation, desire to help people, work environment, coworkers, compensation, travel, lifestyle, etc.) also affect your choice of what kind of practice you work in. Leaving a larger practice to go out on your own will put you in good company. Many firms are being started by "refugees" from large consulting firms seeking new challenges. Turn your decision into the equivalent of a consulting engagement (be your own client) and make a risk and benefit-based decision.
One of the most common reasons for departing a larger firm is the desire for independence. You may begin to feel constrained by the limitations of the corporate business model, bureaucracy, having to balance client service and practice traditions and, sometimes, getting a nudge from their clients to find a different service model. You can usually see this as a progression. When you start to feel that the corporate environment is limiting your ability to pursue and serve clients of the type and in the manner you prefer, thoughts turn to going out on your own. The tremendous number of boutique firms being started these days by partners or senior managers of large firms reinforces the attractiveness of independence. That clients are increasingly willing to retain individual consultants instead of larger firms reinforces the desire of consultants to take their clients with them and leave to set up their own practice.Tip:
Large consulting practices have some advantages and you will probably miss those if you leave. However, the availability of technology and a sizable consultant network (this is where IMC helps tremendously) lets you to compete with and deliver services equal to some of the largest consulting firms. If you don't have the technological skills or network, going out on your own will be more difficult. However, independence will provide a lot of new found benefits. You might even be surprised at how frequently clients call in independent consultants (many of whom came from large firms) to shadow or replace large firms. © 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA