What’s better, a two-year contract or four six-month contracts? Well, it depends. In keeping with what I discussed in a recent post, there are two types of contractor mentalities: The “get a job” consultant (GAJC) will, nine times out of ten, be more attracted to the two-year contract. This person isn’t thinking about a long-term career in consulting; he or she is thinking about a very well paying contract with the convenience of limited travel. If you add the fact that he or she won’t have to be concerned with looking for another contract for up to two years, well, things just couldn’t get much better.
“Build a practice” consultants (BAPC) will see the value in four six-month contracts that are all within their niche market. For one, two years from now they’ll have four clients. What will come from these four clients? First of all, when they’re looking for their next engagement, they’ll certainly come across as more of a consultant to their next client than the person who’s done work for only one organization. Clients are not only looking for hands-on skill sets; they would love to hire an outsider who can bring a broad perspective to the table. A contractor who’s done work for four different clients in two years will certainly be looked upon as being able to do that better than a consultant who’s done project work for only one organization over that same time period.
However, two other things will occur for the BAPC who takes the path described above.
First, they will have four clients in their portfolio. That means there are four managers, directors, and possibly CIOs who will have been exposed to their work. If this group of hiring managers ever needed additional work done in this BAPC’s area of expertise, there’s a high likelihood that they would call this contractor. What also works out especially well is if one of these decision makers moves on to another organization. When hiring managers move on, they’ll normally reach out to contractors who’ve done good work for them in the past.
In this scenario, a second thing occurs: When a past client calls a contractor who has done good work for them, there’s already trust and confidence built in. As a result, the contractor can typically work out more favorable travel terms on the next project. Thus, while paying their dues by accommodating multiple clients during the first few years of contracting, the BAPC will have created a client base for themselves that will provide excellent stability and also offer the travel convenience for which all consultants are looking.