I was thinking of taking a sabbatical from my consulting practice. Any tips on how to best do this without going totally out of business?
Literally, a sabbatical (derived from "Sabbath") means ceasing work, form months to a year or more. Especially in a tough consulting economy (which lags the business sector by about six months), it is not clear whether your intent is to take advantage of the current slowdown to tackle other priorities or to just take time off to wait out the storm. In either case, here are some general thoughts on how to take a sabbatical
- Are we talking a few months or a year?
- Are you planning to stay in your current location or travel?
- Do you intend to have the same clients when you return or seek new ones? This affects how you handle communications at the beginning of your leave.
- Why are you taking a sabbatical? In other words, how will you measure whether the leave was successful? This affects how well you plan and execute the leave - is there a goal to achieve or is this just a "getaway."
- Are you preparing for a new career, business start-up? This affects the level of planning required prior to the leave.
- Do you plan to continue to serve clients at a much reduced level? This affects how much support you may need to retain your business while on leave.
- Is your family on board with the idea of your new activities (or lack of consulting)? Perhaps the most important question is how your plans affect others.
Communicate early, fully, clearly with clients and prospects. Be flexible: you may want to return sooner. It's not all or nothing necessarily. With today’s technology, you can serve clients from a remote island. This may mean advising clients in a different way, and this may even be more effective that you have come to practice. Stay in touch even on a pure personal basis with a weekly or monthly communiqués, as long as this communication itself does not compromise the objective of the sabbatical.© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA