Start your own #consultancy #business from scratch..

So you really want to start your own Consultancy business from scratch !?

ppt1Here are some tips I hope will help:-

  • Identify your key skills – if you want to sell yourself as a Consultant the first thing you need to identify is the skills you possess which people will be willing to pay for. If you can’t do this don’t give up your day job.
  • Develop a Business Plan – don’t put it off because you can’t be bothered or don’t think it’s necessary. If you want people to take you seriously as a Business you need to start thinking like a Business.
  • Identify your target market – who are you going to sell your skills to ? – your current or former employer perhaps ? Former customers or suppliers, ex colleagues, business partners etc etc
  • Network – Develop your contacts, LinkedIn is great for this but don’t forget about your address book & business card collection.
  • Have a look at the Professional Contractors Group website www.pcg.org.uk – it has a fantastic free downloadable guide for freelancers/consultants.
  • If you still want to take the plunge this is perhaps the hardest step of all – You will need a MINIMUM of 6 months income in the bank before you start. Do not plan to earn anything from your Consultancy business for the first six months. If you really want to succeed with your own Consultancy business you will find this money. If you see this as too big a hurdle then sorry but Consultancy is not for you.

Look out for my new book “Start your own Consultancy – Now!”

chris@amberhill-associates.com

www.amberhill-associates.com

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2014 – Year of Discovery……..#automotive

This year has been an extremely exciting & challenging one for me personally. In January 2014 I signed a 12 month contract with Tata Technologies as Lead Engineer in Exterior Trim developing & bringing to production Jaguar Land Rovers’s Freelander replacement the new ‘Discovery Sport’.

In January I was based in TTL’s Coventry office but spent a lot of time at JLR’s Browns Lane plant in the West Midlands, historical home of Jaguar Cars & now utilised as a Pilot Plant for small scale production.

Walking into Browns Lane was a great experience personally as I met many old friends from JLR having worked on the Range Rover Sport Programme. Although it is a large organization employing many thousands its amazing how many people you get to know working on a project for 18 months.

The pilot build is known as VP build & this stage of the process is very much a learning process. Some trim parts are still not ‘off tool’ & its all about capturing issues via the Automated Issues Management system. This AIMs system is used to track issues & ensure the proper fix is put in place before closure. It provides visibility to Senior Management & its administration is one of the Lead Engineer’s key tasks along with developing engineering solutions & working with key suppliers to ensure timely delivery of quality parts. Most issues require a PACN (to support financial justification) & a Engineering Release to implement the change. As most Engineers are responsible for numerous parts time is rapidly eroded before its time for the next build – Hard Tool Functional Build (HTFB)

This build took place at JLR’s Halewood plant where the Discovery Sport is to be mass produced & which was to be my base for the next 8 months.

Halewood is a large plant which covers several square miles & employs over 8,000 people.  Most of the Product Coaches & Line Engineers were involved in the Browns Lane builds so there were many familiar faces at Halewood as well as plenty new ones. Halewood is one of JLR’s centres of excellence & the Engineering knowledge here is second to none.

Over the next 8 months we embarked on a number of builds increasing in numbers & complexity. This is a very stressful period for all & the nearer Volume Launch approaches the pressure piles on.

It was with a mixture of relief & a great sense of achievement  when Volume Launch in December was achieved and cars began rolling off the production line at a rate of one every 40 seconds !!

It is important to recognise the economic importance of this model; Tata have invested hundreds of millions of pounds in this venture which has created several thousand jobs at Halewood & employed hundreds of thousands in the wider supply chain. With JLR’s commitment to source 60% of parts within a 40 mile radius the importance to the Regional Economy cannot be underestimated.

To play a small part in this great venture & to help take the Discovery Sport from initial concept to volume production brings a great sense of pride & achievement.
chris@amberhill.biz

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Happy National Freelancer Day #NFD2014

Today is National Freelancer Day in the U.K (apparently) So what’s it like to be a ‘Freelancer’ in 2014 ?                                                                                                                          FreelancerSpeaking purely from personal experience I have been freelancing for over 5 years so here are my findings:-

Employment – Since leaving ‘permanent’ employment I have never been out of work & have moved fairly seamlessly from one contract to another. I am in Engineering so this may not be so easy in other professions. It also requires a degree of forward planning, I generally start ‘sniffing around’ 2 months from the end of my current contract. You also need to develop an extensive network of contacts & I have found ‘Linked In’ invaluable for this.

Earnings – This is what interests people the most about Contract work. In Engineering earnings are typically 20-30% higher than prermie’ earnings BUT it has to be remembered this doesn’t include holiday or sick pay, pension contributions, bonus etc etc. So if you are regularly sick & enjoy extensive holidays your probably better off as a ‘permie’

Tax – As a contractor you pay less tax. This is because you can set yourself up as a Limited Company & pay yourself minimum wage & the rest in Dividends which are taxable at the Corporation Tax rate which is lower that what you would pay as an individual. You can also deduct legitimate expenses from your taxable income. You can also take advantage of the Flat rate VAT scheme where you collect 20% & pay HMRC 13% of total earnings, keeping the difference. All of this is perfectly Legal & proper but do seek the advice of a qualified Accountant.

Be your own Boss – Sounds great but you always have to remember you also have a Client who is effectively paying your salary & you will have to report to someone.

All in all I have never looked back & intend remaining as a Contractor for the rest of my career. If you are considering this career option I wish you a Happy Freelancer Day & good luck.

chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill.biz



Start your own Consultancy from scratch – practical tips

So you really want to start your own Consultancy business from scratch !?

ppt1Here are some tips I hope will help:-

  • Identify your key skills – if you want to sell yourself as a Consultant the first thing you need to identify is the skills you possess which people will be willing to pay for. If you can’t do this don’t give up your day job.
  • Develop a Business Plan – don’t put it off because you can’t be bothered or don’t think it’s necessary. If you want people to take you seriously as a Business you need to start thinking like a Business.
  • Identify your target market – who are you going to sell your skills to ? – your current or former employer perhaps ? Former customers or suppliers, ex colleagues, business partners etc etc
  • Network – Develop your contacts, LinkedIn is great for this but don’t forget about your address book & business card collection.
  • Have a look at the Professional Contractors Group website www.pcg.org.uk – it has a fantastic free downloadable guide for freelancers/consultants.
  • If you still want to take the plunge this is perhaps the hardest step of all – You will need a MINIMUM of 6 months income in the bank before you start. Do not plan to earn anything from your Consultancy business for the first six months. If you really want to succeed with your own Consultancy business you will find this money. If you see this as too big a hurdle then sorry but Consultancy is not for you.

Look out for my new book “Start your own Consultancy – Now!”

chris@projectsguru.co.uk

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What’s wrong with #Interim?….

Rafael Benitez the current Chelsea F.C  Manager has been having a bit of a rant about his job title including “interim”.

But that’s exactly what he signed up to when he took the job!

Benitez was appointed Chelsea F.C Manager until the end of the season and that makes him an “interim”

Anyway, what’s wrong with that ? Those of us who are Professional Interim Managers by choice are proud of the fact. We provide an essential service in an increasingly fragmented economy where flexibility is a key factor for success and interim personnel are valued for the contribution they make.

Come on Rafa ! celebrate your interim status with pride.

chris@projectsguru.co.uk

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10 great reasons for #freelancing & #contracting

 

Following on from our last post about Freelancing here are some great reasons
you might want to go down this career route:-

 

  • Have you got a low boredom threshold ? – Freelancing allows you to choose
    the length of your contracts based upon your own preferences. 3 months, 6 months, 12 months – whatever suits you so your never anywhere long enough to get bored.
  • Do you thrive on a challenge ? – instead of sitting around doing the same old thing, getting stuck in a rut every contract opportunity presents a fresh challenge, new people to meet, new things to do.
  • Do you like traveling ? – open up your horizons by working in different
    parts of the country……. or even other parts of the world.
  • Fed up of Office politics ? – Freelancing allows you to ignore petty
    politics & get on with your job. You’re there to complete a task to the best of your abilities not to impress the boss into giving you promotion.
  • Would you rather have the cash than holidays or other perks ? – contracting offers higher rates of pay without the frills associated with “permanent” employment.
  • Do you enjoy looking for work ? – a serious question, if you love interviews you will love freelancing !
  • Are you available at the drop of a hat ? – if you are you may be offered a contract on the basis of a telephone interview as long as you are prepared to start immediately.
  • Can you handle uncertainty  ? – some people love not knowing what they will be doing in 6 months time – if you can embrace this you will get a buzz out of freelancing.
  • Are you sociable & outgoing ?  if you don’t enjoy meeting people &
    integrating you had better stick to that day job.
  • Are you flexible & adaptable ? – If you can join a new organization & hit the ground running, adding real value & making a big difference – contracting might just be the career for you.

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#Freelancers earn loads of wonga………..#HFD2012

It’s Freelancer day today so lets debunk some of our favorite myths about freelancing:-

Freelancers earn loads of wonga –  Freelancer pay is very much dependent upon industry, location, length of contract etc. In Engineering a typical freelancer may earn 25% more than a “permie” but that’s like comparing apples & pears as the freelancer gets no paid holiday’s, sick pay, pension, bonus etc etc so a direct comparison needs to take into account the monetary value of these “permie” benefits.

Freelancers pay less tax – There is some truth in this. By owning a Limited Company a Freelancer may structure his pay to take home more income (perfectly legal) but the biggest benefit is being able to deduct legitimate business expenses like car mileage from taxable income. It should be stressed that legitimate Freelancers pay their full contribution according to UK tax law.
Freelancing is insecure – This is largely down to career management. In a lot of respects it can be more secure because the contractor has more active control. Rather than being at the whim of an employer the Contractor tends to be secure for the length of his contract & needs to be active in seeking another towards the end. If her Network is  well developed this is perfectly manageable.
Freelancers can’t get a proper job – some people move easily between Contracting & “Permanent” roles. The majority, however, prefer freelancing. Most Freelancer’s wouldn’t take a permie job given the choice.
Freelancers are ruthless opportunists – no more so than the companies who employ them on short notice contracts. Freelancers are certainly not naive & are perfectly capable of exploiting an opportunity should it arise.
 Freelancers are essential – Of course I would argue this but who else is going to step in & cover for 12 months maternity leave or provide invaluable support through a period of rapid growth. If it wasn’t for Freelancers the corporate world would be like a Swiss cheese.
Freelancers are competent Professionals – undoubtedly true. To survive without the fluffy blanket of corporate support, to learn on the job, hit the ground running, contribute immediately & be effective are all signs of competent professionalism. If you want an easy life don’t go into freelancing.
So why would anyone want to go into Freelancing ———that’s for the next post.
Happy Freelance Day!

chris@projectsguru.co.uk

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