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Why Did I Become a Project Management Consultant? – Steven Lauck

Steven Lauck is a member of the ProjectManagers.Org community. He shares his story on why he became a Project Management Consultant in the following interview:

Why did you become a Project Management Consultant?

I’ve always been passionate about developing and delivering the best solution for a client’s problem. As a Lead Designer I was the client’s project manager’s single point contact. I observed what they did and knew I would like to try being a project manager.

I enjoy people and people deliver projects. As a project manager I interact with varied groups of people, local and national and enjoy the opportunities that it brings. I took the PMP exam to prove to myself I knew project management. I studied hard because I was executing projects but didn’t know all of the terms or processes by name. I passed the exam on the first try in August 2003.

What work were you doing previously?

I spent 15 years doing drafting and design work switching between architectural drawing and engineering/machine design.

What are you doing now?

Now, I am a Project Management Consultant and Author. I contract to manage projects and consult with start-up companies. I started a blog (now closed) sharing my lessons learned executing projects. I want to share my experience across architecture, BPI, construction, facilities, machine design, MEP, and plant layout projects. The blog had a small but loyal following.

When was the moment you decided to make the change?

I had an opportunity to relocate, which fell through.  When I returned a few companies had request help with projects but had concerns about confidentiality if I was an employee for someone else.

Are you happy with the change?

I am! I would like to be busier.

What do you miss and what don’t you miss?

I miss the office noise. Also, I work to build trusting relationships. Relationships where others can speak their minds, ask questions, and ask for feedback, knowing I will answer honestly with respect. So, I miss my fellow employees dropping by to discuss something or to grab a cup of coffee.

I don’t miss office politics. As a consultant or contract project manager I am there to do a job and don’t get caught up in company issues – unless it deals directly with my project.

How did you go about making this career move?

When the relocation opportunity fell through I was out of work. I took some time to see where I wanted to go next. To this point I had owned a few part-time businesses and made the decision to start the consulting business.

What didn’t go well? What ‘wrong turns’ did you take?

Working with contract Terms & Conditions (T&Cs) was difficult. I developed my T&Cs to protect me and the client developed their T&Cs to protect them. In a few cases I didn’t get the contract because we couldn’t reach an agreement.

How did you handle your finances to make your change possible?

Everyone struggles with finances and it was about planning for expenses. Sort of like a creating and managing a project budget.

What was the most difficult thing about changing?

Going from an 8 to 5 job to a 24/7 business; having to be on-call all the time. Today business runs 24/7 and clients can be in different time zones.

What were other difficulties and how did you overcome them?

None.

What help did you get?

I got great support from people I worked with in the past. This opened some doors for at least interviews and a chance to present.

What have you learnt in the process?

Companies are leery of consultants and freelance contractors. So, I am very clear with what is in the scope of my services and what is not. What the deliverables are and have a “Completed” clause.

Be authentic, honest, and always bring your best skills. Most times there is not a second chance if something goes wrong.

What do you wish you’d done differently?

More advertising and less faith in word of mouth at the time I started.

What would you advise others to do in the same situation?

If you want to own your own business – go for it.

Draft a plan. Research every step.

Join associations and business network groups.

Make sure you understand your business and those businesses in the market you wish to work. Take business classes on Law and Marketing. If you plan on adding employees take classes on Human Resources. Yes, you can hire these services but you need to understand the language to protect you, your business, and your client.

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