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It’s not unusual to interchange the terms consulting and freelance consultant when describing the services you perform as an IT expert contract worker. However, each title has a different contractual relationship with customers. Understanding these differences is an important part of positioning your business for future success.
First, let us define each of the terms. According to BusinessDictionary.com, a consultant is defined as:
Experienced professional who provides expert knowledge (often packaged under a catchy name) for a fee. He or she works in an advisory capacity only and is usually not accountable for the outcome of a consulting exercise. Some consultants (like Peter Drucker and W. Edward Deming) have brought dramatic shifts in management thinking and improvements in the performance of organizations.
A freelancer is defined as:
Working on a contract basis for a variety of companies, as opposed to working as an employee for a single company. Freelancers are often considered to be self-employed, and have the freedom to pick and choose the projects and companies they would like to be associated with. A common profession for freelancing is writing; a writer then has the ability to submit their work to many different places, without being tied to any one company in particular.
When hiring an IT freelance consultant, customers tend to think of using your services for a short-term project with a very specific outcome. For example, writing a business case for a specific technology product or designing network diagrams for a company. As an IT freelancer, your role is to take initial direction from the client, usually the IT Director or a Manager within the IT department and then go off and complete the assignment. Typically, the work is done off-site, using your tools and resources. You control nearly every aspect of the project, including determining the best method for tackling the project and deciding the necessary timeframe for completion. Once the project is finished, your relationship with the client ends - at least until the next project comes along.
As with any business, the positives and negatives of going it alone will depend on personal as well as business matters. Here are a few points to consider if you’re thinking of entering the Freelance IT consultant sector:
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