Could 2022 be the Perfect Time to Become an Independent Salesforce Consultant?

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If 2021 has taught us anything, it’s that the old ways of doing things are never coming back. 

With Salesforce as a primary enabler, digital transformation has quickly become an imperative, not a choice, and businesses across the world have doubled down on these efforts.

Anecdotally, we saw this happening at 10K with customers of all sizes and industries, but now, on the heels of our 2021 Salesforce Talent Ecosystem Report, a renewed IDC report on the Salesforce economy, and Salesforce’s own increased revenue guidance, we can say the proof is in the numbers.

Global Salesforce talent demand has skyrocketed — up 364% since 2020. 

This is very good news for Salesforce experts of every type. Not only did demand for Salesforce talent bounce back from a tumultuous and uncertain 2020 but it has also far exceeded pre-pandemic levels. The ecosystem’s future is looking bright — customers are hungry and there are seemingly endless opportunities for Salesforce experts to evolve their careers to meet the rising demand for their skills.

With Trailhead badges, certifications, and a healthy blogosphere thanks to the ecosystem, there is no shortage of ways to sharpen your Salesforce prowess and stand out from other experts in the competition for lucrative full-time opportunities. However, if you’re burned out from working a full-time job or feeling an entrepreneurial itch, you’re certainly not alone. 

A recent study by McKinsey found that 40% of the more than 5,770 employees surveyed said they were “at least somewhat likely” to quit in the next three to six months. The pandemic has given us what feels like once-in-a-lifetime circumstances to make big changes. Thousands of workers are seizing this unique moment to define and chase what matters most to them, whether that be better work/life balance, improved mental health, or more time for passions and hobbies. 

If you’re feeling tempted to join The Great Resignation and create your next opportunity, now is the perfect time to consider becoming an independent Salesforce expert.

How do you know if going independent is right for you?

Being an independent Salesforce expert comes with some really attractive benefits such as earning more money and choosing your own projects, but the reality is entrepreneurship isn’t easy. There are going to be times where money dries up, flexibility isn’t an option, or you’re working more hours than you’d planned on. This is why finding your “why” is so important. It’s what will keep you going when times get tough.

Define your “why” for being an entrepreneur 

This should be the first step in assessing whether the independent lifestyle is a good fit for you. In fact, this exercise is what helped me take the leap from full-time consulting to founding 10K more than five years ago. Over the course of my consulting career, I saw a recurring problem: Salesforce customers were struggling to find great talent, especially as more full-time Salesforce experts went independent. At the same time, I saw many independent experts struggling to balance their billable consulting work with all that it takes to operate a successful business. One key “why” for founding 10K was to create a solution for where those challenges intersected, providing a better experience for both Salesforce customers and Salesforce experts.

Your “why” will also help you solidify your differentiators as a Salesforce expert. Which problems can you solve and solve really well? Why should a customer choose your expertise over someone else’s? Here are some questions to think deeply about, revisit later, and reiterate as time goes on:

  1. What is your personal reason for starting your own business?
  2. What unique problem are you going to solve better than anyone else?
  3. How is your solution different from others that solve similar problems?
  4. What do you hope to achieve in the first year of business?

Identify your overhead tasks

Being your own boss is incredibly exciting, but it also means the buck starts and stops with you. Working with customers, configuring orgs, managing releases, and strategic consulting will comprise roughly 50-75% of your time — the rest will be spent running your business. This includes quarterly planning, chasing down payments, selling to new customers, reviewing and creating contracts, and setting up systems to run your operations. 

Be honest with yourself when drafting your business plan, because unless you’re willing to work 60-80 hour weeks, your predicted income isn’t necessarily 40 hours/week X rate = billable income. I recommend accounting for at least 25% of your time being spent on overhead tasks.

Embrace your weaknesses as a business owner

You’ll also need to be honest in identifying and embracing your weaknesses. It’s uncomfortable, but in the end, you’ll be a stronger entrepreneur and consultant for your clients. Be self-aware about what you’re good at, what you enjoy doing, and where you could use some outside help. 

For example, if you’ve never read a Statement of Work and struggle to understand indemnification clauses, then you should enlist the help of an attorney. The same goes for filing taxes and understanding tax law in the different localities where you’re doing business. That’s what CPAs are for. Identifying where your skills gaps are is an essential step in setting up a business that will last.

How to take the first leap into becoming an independent Salesforce consultant

It’s human nature to want to have all the details ironed out before starting something new. Do your best to ignore that pressure, because if you wait for the big bang, you’ll never get started. Focus on taking baby steps. A series of imperfect actions in setting up your business will take you farther than no action at all, and I discovered that mentorship was key in building momentum. 

The Salesforce Ohana is incredibly supportive and eager to help. There are countless independent experts willing to share the lessons learned from their journey to independence. They can also potentially recommend trusted attorneys, CPAs, insurance brokers, and other professionals that can help advise your business so you can focus on the work that matters most. Invest time in these relationships, because having an advisor network you can depend on is an incredibly valuable asset.

Another note on nurturing healthy professional relationships as you start your independent business — don’t burn your current employer. Some of the best and long-term customers we have today at 10K are folks we worked with in the past at full-time jobs. That said, it pays to be ethical and respectful. Don’t lift any intellectual property you’re not entitled to and, most importantly, don’t burn any bridges. Your full-time colleagues are potential references, referrals, and customers. Their trust in you as an expert and a person will be a precious resource as you start building your client base.

Looking to learn more about starting your own Salesforce business?

Building an independent Salesforce consultancy takes a village — that’s where Salesforce partners like 10K come into play. We advocate on your behalf and connect your in-demand skills with the customers who need you, but can’t find you. 

If you’re curious about what going independent could look like for you and want to speak to someone on our team, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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