Tips from a colleague: ”It takes a lot of adaptability to start new projects"

As an external consultant, you will meet a lot of different organizations and people, and, therefore, it can be a challenge to get a foothold when you start new projects. Here, you can read Klaus-Jakob Bo Nielsen’s experiences from working as a freelance consultant.

Interview with Klaus-Jakob Bo Nielsen, Business Consultant

Be adaptable

Starting a new project in a new organization can be a challenge – even after a couple of times. Make sure from the beginning to get an overview of the key persons that are important for you and the job you are going to do. In the beginning, you should familiarize with what details are accentuated in the organization; do they have a specific jargon, are there any cultural differences you need to consider, and, then, be sure to adapt to this. You should be able to handle the different aspects of the organization without compromising your own values.

Furthermore, when you work in an as changeable line of business as this, you have to be prepared for the difference there can be between the clients you work for: “In some organizations, the difference between you and the internal employees is almost non-existing whereas in other organizations the distinction is very clear. Therefore, it takes a lot of adaptability when you start new projects, and you have to be okay with the distinction,” Klaus-Jakob explains.   

Apart from being adaptable, you have to keep your eyes on the ball. Most often, you are handed a complex project, and, therefore, it is important that you manage to keep calm and think constructively at all times and of course deliver a positive output.

“Although there might be a big difference in how the organization is as a workplace, I always have the same starting point: You don’t have any bad days, you keep a positive tone and a good mood, and you deliver.”

When you are new in the freelance business, there are probably some challenges you did not consider beforehand. Spend some time getting to know the different types of businesses and what your options are so you can get an idea of the direction you want to go. Get some professional help that can steer you in the right direction – for example in relation to the financial aspect: “Get some counselling. There might be areas outside of your scope that you don’t excel in, and a professional can help you optimize on these areas. I got the advice from another freelance consultant, and I believe the money is well spent if you, for example, don’t know anything about accounting or some other crucial area.”

So focus on what you are good at and get some professional counselling on the areas outside your own capability.

Also, being a freelance consultant takes a certain amount of composure since you basically do not know when the next project comes along. Therefore, you should use the time you have in between projects in a constructive manner that will benefit you in the long term, such as updating your CV.

Use the supplier as sparring partner

When you are in between projects or your contract is coming to an end, use the consultancies for advising. This way, you can be abreast of your next step and perhaps thus your next project. Make sure to use the consultancies’ potential, but remember to be honest and respectful in the manner so that the supplier has the best preconditions to help you.

As a freelance consultant, you should have a desire to meet new people and to learn about new organizations although it is not necessarily part of the job description. A big part of working freelance is living a changeable life so you should feel comfortable in the many different setups, job interviews, and the excitement in not knowing what your next project will be.

Who’s who

Name:          Klaus-Jakob Bo Nielsen

Age:             42

Title:            Business Consultant

Edu:             Cand. Scient. Pol. University of Copenhagen

Klaus-Jakob has worked as a freelance consultant since 2014. Among other things, he has previously worked with business process management in relation to compliance, implementing a new IT system, and robotics. Klaus-Jakob has worked for clients such as Tryg, PensionDanmark, Codan, Skat, Nykredit, and Maersk Tankers.