Most of our consultants have been working with small and medium-sized businesses for a few years now, helping them with all their HR needs. Someone asked the other day what were the best bits about what they do?
Some of them were more obvious than others, some which our consultants were anticipating when they started their businesses and some which have been a pleasant surprise!
So for those contemplating doing the same, here are our top ten best bits.
1. No politics
With the best will in the world, in most organisations there are internal politics influencing, restricting, frustrating and colouring how the organisation is run, and consequently how HR works.
Working with clients rather than being employed by one company means our consultants have very little involvement in anything like that, and do not have the same restrictions and frustrations.
2. Removal from personal involvement in the tricky bits
Many small business clients only reach out for HR help when they are in a difficult situation, facing the need to make redundancies, dismissals or deal with a grievance. Consequently, our consultants spend a fair amount of time involved in these activities.
Although it’s not the nicest thing in the world, the difference they experience having to do this for a client as opposed to doing it when working in-house is incredible.
When it comes to a client, our consultants don’t know the employee involved personally. They can walk away after the meeting and don’t have to see that person or work with them on a daily basis. The fact that they are removed from personal involvement makes that side of the job much easier than it is working in-house for one employer.
3. Control over the direction of the business
The world’s their oyster! Although our consultants work with a huge variety of clients, if they choose to specialise in one particular sector, they can do that, and focus their marketing activities accordingly. If they feel one particular product would work especially well in their local area, they can focus on that. They can set their own financial and other targets, that relate to their preferences, their hours and the work they want to put in.
4. Flexibility over hours
This is a biggie for most consultants. Those with children who didn’t have the opportunity previously to attend school assemblies, concerts, Christmas plays etc., can now just book out the time in their diary like any other meeting. It also means they are more likely to be able to do the school/nursery run, and fit work in and around those times.
Others with older children or no children, who choose to take time off to go Christmas shopping or have a relaxing spa day, can make up the work in the evenings or over the weekend if necessary.
Being able to arrange diaries around personal commitments can be an absolute life-saver!
5. Regular income
It might be surprising that as someone who is self-employed, I am listing this as one of the benefits. Most people assume self-employment means very irregular income, and needing a large ‘buffer’.
But with the face2faceHR business model, a large proportion of clients sign up on a retainer basis, which is fantastic as our consultants can have a guaranteed income, which as long as they do well and retain those clients, can only increase.
6. Personal development and learning
Somehow when you’re doing a ‘proper job’, working in HR in a busy organisation, your own personal development and learning can take a bit of a back seat. So it’s important you set time aside to assess your own learning needs and wants.
I wrote recently about the importance of personal development as a self-employed consultant and in addition to their initial personalised training programme, our consultants attend two organised training sessions a year. Additionally, the variety of issues they get with lots of diverse clients means they are constantly learning and gaining experience in many different areas.
7. Variety of clients
When you work for one employer you find out all about that employer. You may also gain a lot of experience in one sector.
But what our consultants get is a wonderful range of experience in different sectors. They currently have clients in the leisure, technology, engineering/manufacturing, business services, voluntary, marketing, logistics and several other sectors. They are soaking up information about all these different industries, and adding it to their experience and knowledge on a daily basis.
8. Working from home
Most of our partners are based from home, although obviously they also spend a lot of time out and about seeing clients and marketing their businesses. Whilst there are challenges involved in working from home, the benefits generally outweigh the negatives like arranging meetings to avoid travelling in rush hour for one!
9. No need for cold calling or trying to convince people why they need HR
This is one of the best bits. Because of the face2faceHR marketing strategy and plans developed over time, clients who are actively looking for HR assistance, or at least for the services our consultants provide, go directly to them.
Many HR consultants spend hours calling or talking to business owners who could be potential clients by the fact that they are the right sized business, or in the right location. But that’s a pretty loose definition of potential clients, and although it’s certainly possible to convince business owners who haven’t even thought about HR services that they need them, it’s very time-consuming.
A much better use of time is talking to business owners who are actually potential clients, in that they are actively seeking you out. That way they already know they need your services, they know about you, have probably been recommended you, so your job to sign them up as an actual client is miles easier, less stressful and less time-consuming.
10. Clients who actively want you there
When working as an HR manager in-house, many directors knew they had to have HR, but considered them a necessary nuisance rather than an active asset.
Hopefully our consultants were able to change minds a lot of the time when they were working in-house, but there’s no denying that it’s wonderful having paying clients who actively want them there and actively seek out and listen to their advice (mostly) without nagging.