Consulting: To Remain Independent or to Expand my Business
I’m getting to a level with my business through Endress|Analytics that I now have had to hire interns to assist me with quarterly reporting I do for my clients. Also more and more companies are contacting me in regards to my availability for either projects or even full-time, permanent positions. While I am not currently accepting any full-time work, I have always been willing to talk to companies about long-term or short-term engagements that take up 10 – 20 hours/week. One client of mine has kept me on a long-term engagement for over a year now, while my other clients come and go with 1-3 month projects. These projects are starting to become more frequent and it’s leading me to debate if I wish to remain completely independent – a sole-proprietor – or if I should consider engaging some help and actually start growing my business beyond just myself.
While I am still debating this, if I do opt to expand, my first inclination is to hire folks as 1099 employees (they would be self-employed, and responsible for paying their own taxes). Doing so saves me a lot of paperwork in the long run. If I went the route of hiring W-2 employees, I would have to change the way my business is currently structured and make sure I file all the appropriate documents, have an actual pay-roll, and all the other paperwork that would come along with having employees. I am a long way from being ready for anything quite that formal at this point.
Another consideration if I do begin to hire folks (in whatever capacity), is that I will most likely have to raise my prices. I think one of the reasons folks are coming to me is that I am still affordable compared to the larger analytics consulting firms out there. Adding staff will add more overhead, and therefore force me to increase my prices significantly.
For now I will make due with hiring “unpaid” interns – swapping hands-on experience in Omniture for their time. However I may be forced to make a decision within the next several months as to which path I will pursue, at least in the near term. If you were in my shoes, which direction would you go in?