Since selling my RV park, there’s no longer a sign on the door with set hours, nor a door chime that dings when someone walks in. My RV park was open 365 days of the year. It was a grand career, but I was tethered to it. The hours I now keep as an industry management and marketing consultant are based on my schedule, not on my customers! Actually, some call this a “dream job.”
Oh, there are still deadlines and schedules. For example, if I commit to speaking at a meeting, or there’s a business meeting of the Board of Directors, or the client’s ads need to run during certain days or weeks, well, those are on my schedule and I must be ready.
The perk is that I have the privilege to choose whether:
- I work from home or from anywhere else,
- My attire is comfortable or extra comfortable,
- I’m on duty until the wee hours of the night, or maybe I start before the rooster crows,
- I work continuous hours or scattered around,
- I use my laptop or my iPad,
- I call someone, email them, or meet with them in person,
- I work weekdays, weekends, holidays, or any combination thereof,
- And one day flows like another or they drastically differ.
I can schedule a doctor’s appointment without having to ask for time off, and I can shop when everyone else is at work. I can pamper my patio flowers when the weather permits rather than having to wait for my work shift to end.
The tools I use are my own, based on my needs to get the job done. Do I prefer one brand over another, or one program over another? Is it time for an upgrade? That’s all up to me.
Doesn’t that sound like a career of luxury? Well, it isn’t, exactly. Partly it isn’t because I’ve allow myself to take on many clients, greatly limiting my free time. It also isn’t because of the nature of my clients. For example, some have required extensive assistance as they lingered at length, always precariously on the brink of disaster. Such situations require constant strategic monitoring and adjusting. The underlying goal: what’s best for the client and the results we’re hoping to attain. Sometimes stabilization, let alone growth, takes baby steps over a very long time.
These small businesses are often owned, led or managed by people who are proficient in some areas but lack the proficiency in all necessary areas for their small business to survive, let alone thrive. They might not have someone aboard with marketing skills. Maybe they also lack a finance and budget analyst or someone who understands the arena of human resources. Or all of the above! These are just some of the critical areas that most businesses require, regardless of size.
Quite a few clients also have another common thread: lack of sufficient funds. In other words, when they reach the point of admitting they need the assistance of someone like me, the funds are nearly depleted. If it’s a start-up company, it’s simply still operating in deficit. Of course, I can’t work without a compensation agreement. What this has often meant is that my compensation comes later or my duties are limited to what they can afford until the new programs begin to show some return, and then we can expand a bit from there.
If my career still sounds like something you’d like to try, then here’s a bit more to consider than just how well you’ll be compensated. While this isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list, working under these conditions requires someone who:
- Is self motivated,
- Knows the tools that are available and what’s needed to do the job,
- Keeps focused on the goals of the clients,
- Has an enormous network of resources,
- Carries a deep understanding of the industry’s history and current trends,
- Comprehends the client’s history, needs, desires and goals,
- Can lead a team (e.g., owner, staff, board of directors), especially one that has likely suffered and is maybe even fragmented in vision,
- Requires little guidance, after spending considerable time getting everyone on the same game board,
- Requires little praise (sometimes weeks or months of effort go by before there’s a review with the client, at which point it might be accepted, tweaked or even rejected), and
- Keeps focused on the goals of the clients (worthy of reiterating).
Those assets can take you far.
This fabulously flexible job comes with some very serious responsibilities, and when you add multiple clients you’ll need to add juggler to the list of assets. You will then need to keep in focus what’s best for each client and the results they’re each hoping to attain, as well as each scheduled event for each client. The calendar then needs to allow for adequate time to meet all of those scheduled events.
I’m grateful to be in a position to assist my clients. I’m even more grateful when the efforts begin to show stabilization and promise, and I’m most joyful when the client begins to flourish. It truly a professional and personal pleasure to work with clients, guiding each toward their goals.
Thank you for reading my blog post.