UnknownAs a follow up to my earlier piece on “Taking the Plunge: Top 6 Tips to Launching Your Own Consulting Business,” I wanted to cover one key area in more detail. And that’s the small stuff. Everyone always talks about not sweating the small stuff and that’s something that I have to think about every day as I am a natural worrier.

But when you are launching a consulting business, if you forget about the small stuff, you may just doom yourself to failure. As a writer and communications professional, I knew what I wanted to do, started telling everyone I knew and generally thought I had everything set up for success. And then I remembered some of what you may consider secondary considerations and doubled back to make sure those details were also handled.

Here are seven little things that you’d better have in mind before you move from the relative comfort of a corporate job to the unknown world of an entrepreneurial consultancy like mine.

  1. Have the right tools – For me, it was updating my technology to make sure that I was set to hit the ground running. I purchased a new laptop, switched my phone service on my second line to Vonage and subscribed to an e-fax service. Over the nearly 10 years that I have been in business, I have made tweaks to the mix of providers but getting things set at the beginning was an important way to focus.
  2. Am I ready to market? – I immediately went to work getting business cards, website and a brochure to start the process. In hindsight, the brochure was a complete waste of money and time but it did help me to focus on the key functions I wanted to provide. I have tweaked this through the years, changing my look completely, creating a new website, delving into social media and a blog. Don’t assume when you get something ready to market that you are “done.”
  3. Insurance and healthcare – After decades in agency and corporate communications, I always had great benefits and more insurance than I ever really needed. Leaving that behind could have been scary but I have a spouse who now carries our family’s benefits and I have supplemented that with long-term disability and life insurance through a trade association to which I belong. Having that set up when I walked out the door of my comfy office made me sleep a little better at night.
  4. Additional tax consequences – In America, the entrepreneur doesn’t get many tax breaks and you are now responsible for the full amount of social security tax (instead of a 50/50 split with your employer). Make sure you understand how your income will be taxed – and a lot of that depends on how you set up your business, whether it’s a corporation, LLC or other entity.
  5. Your retirement plan – It sure was easy when a certain percentage of your income was taken out every month and sent directly to a 401(K) plan. As a self-employed individual, you have several options, but the tough lesson is that you have to make the contribution, no matter how difficult it is to send away any percentage of your hard earned dollars. No one is matching it either, so you have to allow for that when putting your plan together.
  6. Vacation planning – Anyone who knows me knows that I am not about to give up opportunities to get away, recharge the batteries and enjoy my family. The tough thing about entrepreneurship is that you never ever really can turn off completely – that you are constantly engaged in your business even if you are on vacation half way around the world. As long as you understand that this is all on you, it’s easy to stay connected and keep your clients happy. I always make sure that I also have a subcontractor who can back me up in case of emergency – or something that I can’t physically get to because I am out of town.
  7. Where will I work? Can I work from my home office? Do I need to rent a space? Will I be able to keep motivated working this way and working alone? In my last corporate job, I had some flexibility to work from home when needed and I used that time to test the waters and almost pretend that this was my life now and determine if I could accomplish great things working this way. Much to my delight I found that my most productive days were my work-at-home days and this gave me the confidence to know that I could do it when I launched my own company.

As you can see, these small details mean big decisions and no one can know how you will handle these situations except for you. Think it through and make sure you are ready for all that entrepreneurship throws your way.