Hi! I’m Myia Welsh of Welsh & Company Evaluation Consulting. I’m also the Chair-Elect of the Independent Consulting TIG. I’m going to share an independent consulting origin story that isn’t often talked about, but I suspect is rather common: dire necessity.
Years ago I was laid off. Yep. Lost my job. It was awful. I loved that job and those co-workers. But change is the only constant in this life, right? So, I had to turn that lemon into lemonade. I was really lucky to have been working with an evaluation consulting firm that let the junior staff in on the business development end of the operation, so I knew just a little about how things worked with proposals, contracts, and the like. Let’s be real here: what I didn’t know could fill volumes (and that is probably still the case). Going independent was terrifying, but I already had been doing evaluation consulting, so continuing to do it seemed like the quickest way from unemployment to a paycheck.
Lesson Learned: Clients can come from anywhere. My longest client relationship developed out of my interest in becoming a potential volunteer for an organization that does work I’m really passionate about. I thought I would have to tirelessly respond to Requests For Proposals, but it turned out that current relationships were far more fruitful.
Lesson Learned: There is so much help to start a business. I leaned very heavily on my state Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Most states have SBDC initiatives that include training, resources, and even one on one business coaching. My business coach walked me through my business license forms and my state LLC paperwork. The U.S. Small Business Administration has fantastic help as well: training, regional offices, partner networks, and more. All for free.
Lesson Learned: Everything comes to an end, even if it isn’t how we imagined. As it turned out, my lemonade is pretty good. I bet yours could be too.
Rad Resources: There is support out there in all kinds of forms!
- The S. Small Business Administration has free online training, regional offices and partner networks to help fledgling businesses.
- SCORE is a national nonprofit dedicated to helping small businesses get started. They have over 300 chapters across the country and will set you up with a business mentor.
- There are many podcasts dedicated to starting and running a business. Two of my favorites are StartUp and Being Boss.
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating IC TIG Week with our colleagues in the Independent Consulting Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our IC TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.