TM1 Consultant - transition from permanent job to enterpreneur

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TM1 Consultant - transition from permanent job to enterpreneur

Post by robert_pier » Mon Mar 27, 2017 1:25 pm

Hello everyone.
I have couple of questions to all TM1 experts that work alone as TM1 consultants or successfully started their own businesses working with TM1.

I am particularly interested in the beginning phase, during transition from working for somebody to working on one's own.

1. Does this transition always start with sticking with current employer, but changing the relationship from employer-employee to client-enterpreneur?
2. When you decided to start your own consulting business, did you usually rely on contacts that you acquired during working for your past employer?
3. If not, do you have any recommended strategies when searching for and finding new clients who would be interested in your TM1 solutions? Obviously small companies are not likely to be interested in TM1 solutions, so I don't think door-to-door advertisement approach would work with international, large enterprises. Or maybe I'm wrong?
4. In such case, what does the relationship with IBM look like? Is IBM interested in cooperation where I use licences just to build some prototype and a proof of concept for potential client?

Any insights experiences related to this topic would be very appreciated!

Many thanks in advance and I wish all of you a fruitful week.


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Martin Ryan
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Re: TM1 Consultant - transition from permanent job to enterpreneur

Post by Martin Ryan » Mon Mar 27, 2017 10:44 pm

I once tried to turn myself into a "proper" consultancy but found it ended up working more as a bunch of serial contracts, some occasionally running in parallel. Moving to contract might be a good interim step. This might be what you mean, so I'll explain a bit where I see the difference between consultancy and contracting being, and the pros and cons of each.

A consultancy as I'd define it operates likes this:
- Often the initial work comes about through a competitive tender process where clients say to the market "I have this problem, who can fix it for me? I need software and I need people". There can be a lot of unpaid prep time in producing proof of concepts and you'll be up against the likes of SAP BPC and Anaplan. The client may also want business process changes, not just technical implementation so you'll have to have some expertise in that area. The biggest downside is that you can spend a lot of time responding to a tender, but get no return when a competitor wins it
- You will probably need to have an IBM relationship. I've got no personal experience to offer, but they're unlikely to pay you much heed until you can bring them some revenue.
- this approach to winning business requires some reasonable sales and presentation skills
- consultancy tends to be based around shorter engagement timeframes for a specific project at a higher rate. The higher rates are necessary because of the lost time responding to tenders that you don't win - or you did win, but you spent a lot of free time in order to win it.
- over time less work will come through open tenders and more through existing relationships, but that takes a long time

Contracting can be a good stepping stone if it's available in your market. Typically the client will already have TM1 and just need the technical expertise. Income can be much higher that permanent and there's no down time as you're paid from day 1, but it's still a fixed term engagement.

If you're talking about using your existing contacts and your business being you, as opposed to aiming to build up a team, then I would characterise that as a contracting business, not a consultancy. This can work really well and be quite lucrative. You build up a group of regular clients and circle around them - maybe three months of a year at each of them. You can also expand your skillset beyond TM1 more easily as you're selling your brain rather than your product set so if the client wants to implement his new product you can say "yep, I can do that" without it affecting your consulting brand. If it suits you, you can also dip back into permanent work to develop another skill set, then bounce back to contracting.

I remember my first boss, who built up his own consultancy business, telling me that it took him 10 years to build the consultancy up to make as much profit as he made when it was just him on his own. He also said that it was very hard work that came at a cost to his family. He did it because he wanted to have a business at the end of it to sell.

In my personal experience serial contracting is easier to get into, easier to adapt within, less risk to start with and less impact on your family (if that's an issue for you). Consultancy looks good because you see big businesses turning over big dollars, but you don't see the level of overhead necessary to run that business unless you look for it.

For your very first step into contracting there are a few typical options. I'm not sure what country you're from. My experience is the UK and New Zealand and there may be cultural differences
- Reducing your time with current employer but increasing rate. This should still be a saving to them, otherwise why would they go for it. Then you can try to ramp another contract. This is surprisingly hard to do. Companies get used to having their staff around five days a week, especially at ramp up. But if you have a few contacts then you might be able to manage it.
- Find a 3-6 month job at Company A. Do an awesome job. Find another 3-6 month job at Company B. Do an awesome job. Find company C or go back to company A. This might take some time to build up, but will give you stable client base.

This has all been a bit of a stream of consciousness, I hope it makes sense and is useful. Good luck.
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Re: TM1 Consultant - transition from permanent job to enterpreneur

Post by tomok » Tue Mar 28, 2017 2:09 pm

To echo what Martin has told you, contracting to do TM1 work is probably the route you'll want to take. It will allow you to be somewhat "independent" if that is your aim. From there, you can gain contacts that might enable you to become your own consultancy in the future. The whole issue is finding work. Without contacts it's going to be nearly impossible to do on your own. I operated as my own business for a few years but it was at a time when I was able to find work with a large company I had a previous relationship with. Once that project ran it's course I was back in the mode of trying to find work and I eventually decided to become an employee with an established firm that had full time salespeople doing all that work getting business. Would I prefer to be out on my own? You bet. However, it's extremely hard to find the kind of lucrative work I would want when you are competing with firms that can dedicate people to filling out RFP's and calling on people. Good luck in whatever you decide to do.
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