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A Virtual Consulting Firm

5 October, 2015

In case you did not know, Freelance Total Rewards is a virtual consulting firm. Lean and mean.

Thanks to technology,

  • I pay no office rent, yet I have a business address and meeting rooms if needed
  • I am 99% paperless, using TurboScan, DocuSign, Scannable and Evernote apps to avoid paper
  • I am cloud-based, storing all files in Dropbox premium (enterprise grade security), so files are constantly backed up, constantly synced and accessible on all devices, including client access
  • Favorite productivity apps include ToDoist, OfficeTime, Office365, WordPress, Zoho (email) and XE
  • Online finances with QuickBooks and project management using SmartSheet
  • With Skype and WhatsApp, I incur almost no phone expense by working within wifi zone
  • When I show up at your office, nothing has been left at mine

I have no employees (yet), but an incredible team:

  • I have a Board of Directors, mentors, associate consultants and a pool of freelancers (professionals in transition, those giving freelancing a try, or serious independent freelancers)
  • I’ve pulled together global and local project teams through my network
  • I am associated with several highly regarded HR/rewards firms, partners, event organisers and providers such as 21st Century, SNEF, HayGroup, AIR-INC, HRMBSi, DecodeHR and others too numerous to list
  • WorldatWork membership and faculty status gives me access to the top experts and ideas
  • Three firms have tried to hire me to lead a major office/practice in the last two years, but I would be part of a firm with “10,000 employees in 20 countries” yet sitting in a silo with a huge revenue target, when all my clients need is one or two excellent consultants with broad and deep expertise that fit their budget

I have no cash-cow products, but I create the best solutions:

  • My network includes some of the very top corporate and consulting minds in HR, rewards and mobility
  • Proprietary research on mobility and rewards/talent trends
  • My data partner is 21st Century, currently introducing comp surveys and tools for SMEs or niches
  • Solutions that improve your ability to attract, retain, motivate and deploy talent across borders
  • Doing client work more than half my time keeps my real-world skills sharp
  • Training and blogging keeps ideas fresh, current and insightful – over 500 learners each year
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For very low overhead (me, my laptop and a cup of coffee), you get the value of a firm.

I still have “physical world” challenges such as getting a taxi, working long hours, managing multiple time demands and balancing work with family, faith, friends and fun… Yet I am also chasing a dream where there are few limits, thanks to modern technology. After years building a strong network and professional reputation, all I need is a laptop, smartphone and a few apps, and a good cup of coffee every morning to build a virtual consulting firm, making a difference for a few (lucky) clients.

I admit I lack three big things as a freelancer:

  1. I don’t have massive overhead costs like the big firms
  2. I don’t have massive revenue targets (though I was a top revenue producer, both at Hewitt and Mercer)
  3. I don’t have a massive ego. I just love what I do. I am a craftsman in the area of total rewards.

Isn’t it a bad thing to be virtual? To be a freelancer? Don’t clients prefer “established” consulting firms that have real offices, real rents, real lawyers, real CEOs, secretaries, Xerox machines, fax machines, report-binding machines, shredding machines, business development people, social networking experts, stocked pantries, expat packages for partners and liability insurance? Clients that can afford it can get great value from the big firms, I won’t deny it. But I would argue being a virtual firm is a huge advantage for clients:

  • I can’t be reassigned to another project, or made redundant
  • I charge a fee that reflects my time and value, not overhead expenses
  • I can pull in team members with the right experience when needed to staff a project
  • I have access to data through my remuneration and mobility partners
  • I have access to the best minds in the field to test ideas and solutions

I recognise the need to increase scale and stability and depth, but great care will be taken to avoid overhead costs that don’t add value. I hope to keep costs low, but relationships real. Most of all, my team and I will deliver solutions that work. I have real access to the best consulting talent and partners, yet I will avoid employing someone only to make them redundant after a project is over. My mission—our mission—at Freelance Total Rewards is to provide clients in Southeast Asia world-class thought leadership, program design, training and consulting services in total rewards and global mobility without the burden of low-value overhead costs.

I am a virtual consulting firm. All you need, nothing you don’t.

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