Is Being an Independent Executive the Right Career Path for You?

There are three reasons why independent executives choose a career of flexibility, financial freedom and challenges.

Being an independent executive can take many forms including Independent Executive, Management Consultant, Coach, Advisor, Board Member and so on. Any of these can offer a high amount of flexibility, financial freedom, and challenges. This is usually a decision made by an executive and not one done lightly. Even those executives who think it was not initially their decision since they all of a sudden found themselves unemployed, do choose it and continue to develop their business or seek full-time employment.

As mentioned above, most executives choose this career for one of three reasons: freedom of the work, looking for their next full-time role or they are semi-retired/just sold their company, and are transitioning out of a full-time position.

Freedom of the Work

Freedom comes in many shapes and sizes for independent executives and management consultants. What I hear most is that they enjoy the challenge of working with a variety of companies with varying level of needs. Most tend to get bored easily, so the challenge offers a great amount of stimulation, and once the situation has stabilized or goals accomplished, they can naturally transition on to the next just as things start to slow down, and they get bored.

It can be widely debated on how much freedom an independent executive has. You are either scheduled out with networking events trying to get the business or tied up with your clients once you get the business. As true as this is, you still have the ultimate decision making of which events you attend, how many and which clients/situations you take on. You can easily adjust this on any given month. We had an executive for years who would only take assignments up to 4 days a week and with no travel since he was very involved in coaching his children’s soccer teams. At one point, he decided to develop his toolkit into a technology suite and was available only one to two days per week. As that was launched and until the revenues came in, he then started taking on more assignments. We have other executives we have worked with who enjoyed taking 3-6 month assignments working 5-6 days per week then would take the next couple of months off.

Keep in mind what type of freedom you want and how much as that can impact the type of work you decide to pursue.

Looking for Next Role

It is not uncommon for executives to consider doing some independent executive or management consulting project work while they look for their next full-time position. This has become more common the last couple of years with the economic recovery for executive’s to use this model as a foot in the door or way to test the waters for their next position. Depending on a number of factors, a company’s interest level in the model of a project to perm will vary.

Semi-Retired, Sold Company

The two most popular statements we get from this group is, “I’m not ready to retire but I’m not ready to go back to corporate America full-time” and “I’ve just sold my company and want to continue working but don’t see myself starting another company or working full time for someone else.” Independent executive work is an excellent response to both statements and why about one-third of our network is in this category.
Whatever the reason, the good news it is that it doesn’t need to be a life-changing career decision as it once was. As much as being an independent or full-time employee once were two very different and distinct careers, times truly have changed. Over the past ten years, we have witnessed executive careers as more fluid, interchanging and often overlapping between these options.

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About Cerius Executives

As one of the largest North American providers of contract executives for part-time, temporary, interim, and consulting assignments, Cerius has a network of thousands of executives from Operations, Finance, Sales, Marketing, Manufacturing, IT, Engineering, and Human Resources. These executives are available to step into companies on short notice to fill a sudden gap in leadership, to run a key initiative, or to provide specialized skills and knowledge for a temporary period. Cerius serves clients of all sizes from virtually every industry.

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