️Episode 015 – Think About Time Like a Consulting Business Owner

Being an Independent Consultant is very different from being an employee. Quitting your job and starting your own consulting business is only half the battle. You need to prepare to be a business owner, and this includes preparing your mind by shifting from employee thinking to a business owner. If you hold on to the employee mindset, you limit your vision and soon sabotage your success.

When you leave your corporate job, you’re no longer confined by corporate life. That means you control your time. Allowing clients to control your priorities is a mistake Independent Consultants frequently make. Listen on as I share with you three ways that you can drop the employee mindset around time, and start managing your time like a successful IC business owner.

The good news is that the “right” mindset is powerful, and if you stay with it, you’ll gain control of your time just as you dreamt you would. 
Here are 3 ways to drop the employee mindset around time and start managing your time like a successful IC business owner.

In this episode,

[03:59] Employee Thought #1 & Your New IC Mindset
[09:22] Employee Thought #2 & Your New IC Mindset
[14:18] Employee Thought #3 & Your New IC Mindset



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**note: This is an automated transcript, so please ignore spelling errors and grammar mistakes*


Welcome to the Grow Your Independent Consulting Business podcast. I’m Melisa Liberman, a fellow IC and business coach. On this podcast, I teach you to become a consistently booked independent consultant without becoming a pushy salesperson or working 24/7. If I can do it, you can too. Listen on to find out how. Welcome to Episode 15. I’m so excited, that you’re here again, this Thursday, I’m going to start a new series that I want to call think like a business owner. So many of you I talked to share with me that you are not necessarily purposefully thinking like a business owner, you’re thinking about yourself as a consultant, as someone who delivers projects to clients. But you don’t often step back and say, You know what, I actually own a business. And what does that mean? What does that mean that I own a business and how should I be thinking about my business in a way that might be different than how I would be thinking about it as default. And really, what I find is a lot of ICS out there, you may be one of them are thinking about their business, either not thinking about their business or thinking about it more from the mindset of their past life, which is as an employee, then as a business owner. And I have to tell you, I fell into this trap for a long time, I didn’t really ever think of myself, as a business owner, probably for the first five years of being a consultant and a coach, I thought of myself as a consultant and a coach, someone who’s delivering that type of work, just like you would be thinking about yourself you know, whatever your job title used to be a VP of whatever, or EVP of whatever, right. That’s how we’re trained to think about ourselves. And so it’s really easy as we go into consulting, to think about just keep thinking of ourselves that way, as the function that we perform, versus really looking at this that we own. We as consultants, as independent consultants, wear two hats. We are a consultant who delivers projects to clients and value to clients. And we are also business owners. So I want to walk you through a series starting today about thinking about how to think like a business owner, so that you can avoid the trap that I fell into when I first started my business, which is never thinking about my business, always thinking about the client and what I had to do for the client, and never about taking a step back and thinking about what are my goals as a business owner? And what do I want this to evolve into. So with this in our new series, thinking about our business, as a business owner, today’s topic is very specific about time thinking about time as like a business owner, like the business owner that you are. So I want to help you through today’s podcast shift from employee thinking


into how a business owner thinks relative to time. And I’m going to walk you through three common thought processes around the time that we’ve all accumulated or created, you know, in our time as corporate employees, and then help you to see what the impact of that thinking is on your business. And then ultimately share with you a shift that you could be making as you’re thinking about time as a business owner instead of as an employee. So that is going to be our structure for today’s podcast. And let’s dive into the first of the three ways to think about time like a business owner. So the first one is, as an employee, we were taught and had been taught that time creates opportunity. So let me tell you what I mean by that. More specifically, like elapsed time enables opportunity or even like, think about an equation of benefits, delivering benefits or delivering results in your employee life, plus some arbitrary amount of elapsed time equals opportunity, like the ability to be promoted or take on more responsibility. So as an employee, that’s how we’re trained to think that time is required in order to open up opportunities. I’ll give you a very personal example. My first job out of college was at Accenture, Accenture is very, very structured in terms of the way people get promoted to all the levels and, and all of the requirements and in the level. and all of that. So I started off at Accenture, I got very lucky, I was put on a project at the time, which was leading edge and a highly sought-after technology. I’ll tell you what it is, it dates me, but I’ll tell you anyway, which was PeopleSoft at the time, it was implementing, and transitioning companies into PeopleSoft PeopleSoft financials specifically, it was a very highly sought after kind of marked as a specialized skill set that I was building, I was working in a very lucrative project, I was billing more than 100% of my time, like all of the consulting type metrics I had in place, I was checking all the boxes, I was even given a role where I was assigned as essentially the team lead, walking the client through I think, at the time, it was like a team lead of testing. So I was checking off all the boxes of what it meant to be promoted to the next level of responsibility at Accenture. But they would not promote me, they would not promote me, because I hadn’t spent I think that two years in the role was a hard and fast requirement. If you’re not an analyst for two years, then you are not eligible to be a consultant, no matter what. And Accenture is not the only one who does this, right. So many organizations have set up their promotion structure in this way. And that’s really, at the end of the day, what creates this idea for us as employees that time is required in order to have more opportunities in order to be eligible for more opportunities, such as promotions, or responsibility. And so our default way of thinking about time, coming at it from the employee perspective, is that time is required in order to have more opportunities. And so let’s now talk about how this applies to you. Now as an independent consultant, what I find is that this thought process about some amount of time being required impacts, independent consultants, in that it results in them waiting, waiting, waiting for something external to them to happen before they feel like they have permission to start taking on bigger projects, or to start interacting with the C suite as their client’s stakeholder or, you know, whatever, whatever the case may be for you as an independent consultant. See how this comes up for you. As you thinking about it? Well, there’s some amount of time that is required in order for me to earn the opportunity. The shift for you is Well number one, knowing that you’re doing this, but the shift once you do know that you’re thinking about timing this way, in order to get into business owner quality thinking is to decouple the idea that time is required for an opportunity, the elapsed time has absolutely no bearing on your opportunity as an independent consultant, I’ll just put it as simply as that elapsed time doesn’t give you permission to go after a bigger client or a more lucrative client or a client with a bigger name, or for you to take on more than one project at a time. None of those things as you’re scaling and growing your business are dependent on some arbitrary amount of time that has passed, it literally doesn’t matter if you’ve been in it for six minutes or six years, you can go out and create those possibilities for yourself. What does matter is the value you’re providing to clients, and the outcomes, you’re driving for clients, that’s what they care about, has nothing to do with the amount of time you’ve been a consultant, having spent consulting, or any of that. So that’s number one. As you’re thinking about time, as a business owner, really look at some maybe residual thinking you may have still leftover from your corporate days, and these governors you’re putting on yourself that are not necessary.


Okay, let’s dive into number two. The second thought that I see so often that relates to employee mindset is rooted in employee mindset is that time creates money. And I’ll tell you where I think we’re one example of where this comes from. As employees, if you’re looking at it from the employee thinking angle, as employees, it’s so common to expect of cost of living to increase every year. So just by nature of that is we end up equating 12 months equals more money, less tangibly putting in more time in the office, you know, when we used to work in the office, right, some of you are going back now. But putting in more face time in the office staying late being the last one to leave a lot of times is equated to more recognition and more money. There are so many constructs as employees that we’ve created, where it sets us up in a mindset that time creates money. And as a result, instinctively, what ends up happening to us as independent consultants, if we bring forward this employee thinking into our independent consulting business, what ends up happening is that number one, you think about yourself, as someone who gets paid by the hour, you may not have been paid by the hour since you were in high school, you were probably on a salary as an employee. But all of a sudden, when we become a consultant, we think we’re paid by the hour, time equals money, instead of realizing that it’s a value that’s creating the money, value that and benefits that we’re delivering to clients. And therefore, we should open up the possibilities that other revenue models could be more lucrative for us, and require us to work less time on a project, such as retainers, for example. So when you’re equating time to money, a lot of times it just closes off that idea entirely, that you could be charging clients in a way that doesn’t require you to work an hour to get a certain amount of money. The other thing that this equation does is this employee thinking time creates money, that equation also really sets us up to avoid working on our business. Because all of a sudden, we’re choosing between working on our business, which is really $0 per hour work, right? There’s usually a direct correlation between the amount of time we’re spending on business development, for example, and the direct paycheck as a result of that, right, it’s creating an investment that’s going to pay back over time because you land a new client. But at the moment, it feels like $0 per hour of work because you have to choose to feel like you have to choose between business development, which isn’t going to add to your timecard, or working another hour on behalf of a client which does contribute to your timecard, which in the case where you’ve set up $1 per hour kind of a compensation model matters. So the thought process here as an employee coming into your independent consulting business and selling work, thinking that time equals money is going to keep you tied down to the ceiling of how many hours you have in a day. That’s the ultimate impact. Whereas if you’re able to shift yourself into business owner quality thinking, you’re going to start thinking about time differently. Time is an investment. Time is something that I have to invest and how am I going to invest that? What does that look like to maximize my return? What does it look like to maximize my return on the investment of the time that I have available, and open up your ideas to other compensation models, for example, like retainers or return on ROI based project work, for example, getting paid to sell into clients is another good example. And so ask yourself those high-quality questions as a business owner who thinks about time differently? How can I maximize the return on my time investment? And how can I add value to clients in the least amount of time? At the end of the day, my friend, I know you became an independent consultant. So you would have more control over your own time. recreating your corporate life where you need to work an hour to get paid is not what we’re trying to do here at the end of the day, right? So think about time, and the equation you might have set up, and then start looking at it differently shifting into that business owner quality thinking. Okay, let’s dive into the third and last example of how to think about time like a business owner. A very common employee-based thought process is that someone else controls your time. This is how we live life incorporate right. Someone else is always prioritizing our time. Even if we’re a leader in an organization. At the end of the day, the CEO is pushing down priorities upon us or the board is pushing down priorities upon us. Or if you’re not on, you haven’t been a leader in corporate at that highest level. Your manager is putting upon those priorities you. Your client might be putting upon Those priorities to you in the corporate sense of a client, the construct as an employee, and the way we think about time is that time is prioritized by other people. That is the default and thinking about time as an employee. And how that shows up in your icy business is that it’s so common to turn your new consulting clients into your boss, just as if you were working as an employee, and start allowing that client to dictate your time, it happens over and over again. And you might be in this situation to where you’re feeling like, well, now I just I left corporate, but I’ve recreated what I was doing because you know, this client is dictating my time, instead of my boss, I just made a new boss for myself, that’s not what I wanted, right? If you allow your employee to think that someone else controls your time, you’re going to recreate what you were doing incorporating racing, from meeting to meeting, not having any time left over for yourself, or for working on your business, spending all of your time, more than you wanted, delivering for that client. The shift here to get out of the employee thinking and all of those repeated habits, is to get into the business owner quality thinking is to recognize that you get to decide how you spend your time, you do have control over how you spend your time. And you’re able to set those expectations and boundaries for both yourself and for your clients. That’s the shift in thinking, rather than thinking that you’re at the mercy of the clients, it’s really getting ahead of that curve, and seeing where you do have control. And taking that control in that relationship. So that you’re able to prioritize what you need to be doing for your business, working on your business and in your business, and having free time. And not feeling like you’re leaving money on the table because you’ve set up a pricing structure that is getting paid by the hour. So those are the three thought processes that I really want to encourage you to dig into after today’s podcast and ask yourself how am I thinking about time like an employee, instead of like a business owner? And what is that doing to me and to my business? So just like those three examples, I gave you, how were you thinking about time in that old employee mindset? What impact is it having on you as an independent consultant? And then how can you purposefully shift your thinking into the way that a successful business owner thinks so that ultimately you are making more money and spending less time doing it? All right, that is the first in the series about thinking like a business owner. I’m excited to keep sharing with you these concepts with you over the coming weeks. And tune in again next week for another topic in this series. See you then.


Thanks for joining me this week on the Grow Your Independent Consulting Business podcast. If you like today’s episode, I have three quick next steps for you. First, click Subscribe on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to make sure you don’t miss future episodes. Next, leave me a review in your podcast app so other independent consultants can find it beneficial and finally put the ideas from today’s episode into action. Head over to Melisaliberman.com for the show notes and more resources to help you grow your consulting practice from your first few projects into a full-fledged business. See you next week.

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