Once you’ve decided that being an interim executive is for you, it’s important to know what’s driving you. Who you are, what you do and how you do it is your own brand of professional service. As with all successful brands, be clear about your message, and make sure your target audience knows about you.
Know what motivates you to be an interim executive
This is one of the first things people will ask you – so it’s important to know why you’ve chosen to be an interim. It’s a narrative which will bring your interim career to life.
Why do executives become interims? They want to give others the benefit of their experience. All interims love clear goals and deadlines, most just have a very low boredom threshold. Steady state is not for these ‘change junkies’. They want to do great work, leave capability in place and move on. For many, this is freedom from a routine job, getting back control over their career.
Be clear and memorable
It’s important to communicate often – but with a compelling message: how you can help with your experience. Being more memorable than others is essential in today’s ‘attention economy’. When we are deluged with communications from all channels it’s important to find ways to get your message across and stay ‘front of mind’ when businesses need your help.
Build a simple, clear, eye-catching website for your company – it keeps your business message pure and keeps clients away from your Facebook page! Website building software available today is impressive. Wix or Squarespace are available free or pay a little more for extra functionality or, equally important is find a domain name that matches your company name or what you do. Produce thought-provoking content and opinion pieces on LinkedIn or Google Blogger – it’ll get you noticed and win you more business.
Once you’ve got a CV which matches your public profile on social media channels and website, get out there and talk to people. Networking is really just getting to know those you meet and finding ways to help or collaborate with them. If you don’t like the idea of networking, reframe it as a way of making interesting friends, for the long term. Create a ‘wish list’ of people you’d like to connect with — a senior colleague, a thought leader in your field perhaps. Aim high, you might surprise yourself and get a response.
Be you, be accessible
Deciding to be an interim executive is a liberating stage in your career. You can go out and help others with the skills and experience built up over the last 20 years. Using all or some of your experience, even in different markets and countries, each time you take on an assignment. The only limit is how free you feel.
Aim to establish rapport, find ways to connect with others, just be yourself. But remember, this is your business now. Be available to help others and, above all, go for it – you chose this path.
Having confidence in yourself, knowing you can deliver a brief, will help you reassure potential clients as soon as you meet them. That moment when the smiles of relief break out in the room – then someone says to you, “thank goodness you’re here”, that’s when you know you’ve made the right impact. You can get on with the assignment full of self-belief.
On the practical side
You will be providing a ‘business to business’ service and will need to set up a limited company. Find a company name which you are happy with and which is either relatively neutral or reflects you and your services. Nothing ‘cheesy’, overly personal or even political – it could put clients off.
This is a time when interim executives with a record of managing change and uncertainty will be in demand as the global economy resets and rebuilds. Market yourself and make sure business benefits from your experience!
Useful links and resources
Companies House: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/companies-house
Setting up a limited company: https://www.gov.uk/set-up-limited-company
Institute of Interim Management (IIM) – the UK’s professional body for independent professionals operating as interims: https://www.iim.org.uk/
The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) – the voice of the UK’s self-employed population https://www.ipse.co.uk
HMRC: Understanding off-payroll working: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/understanding-off-payroll-working-ir35