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Decisions, decisions

July 13, 2010

It has been an exciting ride in the short two weeks since leaving Army public affairs and moving into consulting. I was blessed to have a few compelling options upon leaving the Army, but at the end of the day I couldn’t pass up the opportunity and flexibility of doing my own consulting. I know it’s going to present a lot of challenges, but I’m also very much looking forward to the benefits.

Since leaving the Army and deciding to transition into this role, I’ve been asked by a lot of different folks what my exact reasons were, so I’ve decided to share with you some of the pros and cons that went through my head in taking this route. Since social media is all about sharing, why not help walk you through my decision-making process?

Benefits:
1. Flexibility. With the arrival of a baby just months away, this was my number one objective in finding a new job. I’d explored telework options with the Army, and unfortunately, they’re just not there yet (not in my office, anyway). I knew wherever I went I needed a lot of flexibility both in time and agenda to help me care well for my family.

2. Independence. This is another benefit of moving out on your own. The scene will look different if you’re starting a partnership or corporation, but for me moving out on my own meant setting my own vision, objectives, and account selection.

3. Ability to do work I love. Even as a consultant, not every day is going to be peachy. Not all of the work is sexy and important – some is just mundane and there is an even more boring administrative component than I had with the Army. But at the end of the day, the ability to choose work that matters, stay focused on missions I love, and keep the character and quality of my work something I’m proud of was key in my decision. I love communicating, and I love helping others solve communications problems. I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t lose that passion in my next endeavor.

Risks:
1. Money. The fact of the matter is, without my husband I would not have the financial independence to go out on my own. Insurance alone is just way too expensive! And on a related note I think the emotional support of my husband is key in me being able to give independent consulting a try. Any time you embark in a small business venture – especially in this economy – you’re taking a risk. Make sure you have the support you need before you go it alone.

2. Contacts. Being a part of a company or organization unites you with others who are in your same business or field. Natural networking opportunities abound, and you have that great quality of getting to be a part of a team. Going it alone means there is a fear that once you’ve gotten out there, your former friends or organization contacts will forget who you are. And in the public affairs business, if you don’t have friends, you don’t have much of a career.

3. Time management. When you’re doing client work, you have to be able to manage your time well. And I’m not talking about watching the clock to milk every dollar you can. You simply have to be aware of the number of hours in a day, and be careful not to over commit or underestimate a project. And it requires some self-control when it comes to actually getting work done, if you’re not a go-getter.

Sound too simple? That’s really how basic my check list was, and if I had to list out the key priorities I think anyone should consider when determining their next career step, I’d recommend the same ones. How you rate the importance of these things, and how your job prospects mesh with them will make a big difference in your success.

Have you recently embarked on a career transition? What was a part of your decision-making process? I’d love to know!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Tim permalink
    July 15, 2010 11:35 am

    Lindy — Having done it, its a great experience, albeit full of the challenges you mention! Good luck! — Tim

  2. July 15, 2010 11:06 pm

    Congratulations on your latest adventure Lindy – compared with dealing with the bureaucracy in the Pentagon, this independent consulting stuff should be easy for ya! 🙂

    I was filled with a bunch of conflicting feelings when I read this post, probably the same ones you felt while writing it – anticipation (to see where you’re going to take this), anxiety (there are so many other consultants out there doing this same thing), disappointment (that I’m not working directly with you :), jealousy (that you’ve got the confidence to do this when I don’t), excitement (to watch you take the same enthusiasm and expertise you applied at the Army to other organizations), and most of all, happiness (that you’ve discovered something that allows you to do everything that you want to do).

    Congratulations Lindy – I know you’re going to do great and I can’t wait to work with you in some capacity in the future! I

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