Q

Big 4 consulting manager going independent

I'm currently a manager with a Big 4 consulting firm and I have been thinking of switching to becoming an independent contractor. What is the best way to move from being an employee to an independent contractor? By the way I have been working primarily with SAP's EBP/SRM module and I'm certified in MM.

I'm currently a manager with a Big 4 consulting firm and I have been thinking of switching to becoming an independent contractor. What is the best way to move from being an employee to an independent contractor? By the way I have been working primarily with SAP's EBP/SRM module and I'm certified in MM.


It sounds like even though you're a manager, you've also been able to maintain hands-on SAP skills. That's key, because there aren't many independent contractors right now who are able to land pure project management roles. The independent SAP market is really a hands-on market - a market that has opportunities only for the most experienced consultants with the most targeted niches. Fortunately for you, the EBP niche is one of the niches you can potentially leverage to move into the contract world. And since you are a consultant right now, you have the other major requirement for "first time contractors" - experience on multiple SAP implementations. EBP is not the most explosive market, but it could be pretty solid for you, especially if you continue to gain exposure to the whole Supplier Relationship Management product line that SAP is rolling out.

There's really no magic involved in becoming an independent contractor. The best thing to do is to make sure you can give two week's notice on your current project if you find the right position, and then, start discreetly "floating" your resume and see if you get any bites. Since you are currently employed, you can bide your time and pick the right opportunity. The amount of interviews and job offers you are able to get will give you valuable data about the level of demand for your services - data you should take into account before making the leap into contracting. Most serious independent contractors end up incorporating, for reasons that are hard to sum up quickly here, but for your first contract, you could probably find firms that would hire you as a "W-2 hourly contractor." Under this arrangement, you would sign a short-term contract but still have your taxes withheld as if you were a full time employee. Most third party firms will do this, but you should be upfront about your desire for a "W-2 contract" as it could affect rates for you and for the third party that "brokers" your first contract. Once you get into a groove as a contractor, you can then explore the option of incorporating and billing your services on a "corp to corp" basis.


This was first published in March 2003
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