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Advice / Career Paths / Exploring Careers

Quick Take: 3 Answers to 3 Questions About Working for Yourself

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We get a lot of questions from readers about entrepreneurship. After all, who wouldn’t be interested in working for themselves?

So, we sat down with expert John Gannon, a career coach with more than 15 years of experience working in the startup sector, to get his advice on three common concerns people have—from getting started in consulting to how to improve at networking (after all, no matter what you do, it’s all about who you know).

1. How Do I Get Started as a Consultant?

Reach out to your network to see if you can get three to five people to spend 15-20 mins chatting with you about this potential career change. You’ll want to target people who do consulting work today (either as a full-time thing or on the side), as well as people who hire consultants. During the call, do very little talking and a whole lot of listening.

The goal is to learn how consultants find work, how they manage clients, and what they do or don’t like about consulting. And for those who hire consultants? Ask them how they find consultants, what they look for when they bring one on, and what made successful consultants so great.

After you’ve interviewed a few people, if you’re still interested in this career path, then by all means, try to find your first client (without quitting your day job). Once you’ve had a few consulting gigs on the side, you can start to consider a more permanent career change.

2. I Want to Start My Own Personal Training and Freelance Writing Business—How Do I Get Started? And How Do I Get Over My Fear of Failure?

I’d focus on where you have the most traction now—the personal training business—and trying to grow that through referrals. You could also check out Find Your Trainer, a site which pairs trainers with clients.

I’d also recommend Jay Abraham’s book Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got. It has so many ideas on how you can grow your business regardless of the type of business you’re in. It covers referral programs and techniques and is one of the few business books that I frequently re-read (and gift). It’s that good!

3. I’m Interested in Learning More About Networking—Any Good Books You’d Recommend?

Absolutely. Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi and How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

A couple of others that are strong, practical, and easy to digest (and yes, I’ve read them) are: Mastermind Dinners by Jason Gaignard and Superhuman Social Skills by Tynan.

John Gannon is the founder of, a site where he helps people who aren't engineers get jobs at startups. Book one-on-one coaching sessions with John at The Muse’s Coach Connect.