Independent medical reps, independent contractors, independent consultants, freelancers, self-employed, entrepreneurs or independent business owners has advantages and disadvantages.
For many, the advantages of becoming an independent far outweigh the disadvantages. Unlike an employee who works for an employer, independent reps, independent contractors or independent consultants often work for a number of different clients, companies and / or product lines that require their special expertise and established relationships. Independent sales reps and independent consultants are self-employed entrepreneurs and most are very GOOD at what they do or they couldn’t be independent, without that comfort zone of a base salary. Independent agents must be self starters, highly motivated, good at marketing yourself, marketing YOUR business, AND excellent at closing ! (And that’s whether you’re closing a sale or closing your consulting opportunity.) A higher level of ability to qualify and assess your customers’ needs are also critical.
Twelve (12) advantages of being self-employed as an independent contractor:
- You are your own boss: As an independent, you are your own boss. You run your own business, your own company.
- Better Compensation: Income Earnings for Independent Sales Reps and Distributors are typically paid a higher compensation for actual results than one would receive as an employee. Make sure you leverage your power of already having established relationships and/or the expertise you have. (Compensation for: who you know and what you know!)
- Negotiate Compensation: Independent contractors have the ability to set and negotiate their own price or fee schedule. Consultants need to understand How to calculate consulting fees when setting up your consulting business.
- Higher Commission, Creative Compensation: Companies tend to pay a higher rate to 1099 workers than they do for W2 employees, primarily because there are fewer costs associated with hiring self-employed workers. As a consultant, you will want to understand How to Charge Consulting fees and carefully review mutliple samples of fee schedules for consultants.
- Uncapped Earnings: Typically there are no limitations or caps on your earning potential
- Tax Benefits: Deductions employees may not be privy to and the ability to put more money away in tax deferred accounts like SEP, IRA, etc. (at least true at this time)
- Freedom: Independent reps and independent consultants have a much greater sense of freedom. Freedom to choose products, companies, time management, full control to what you do and how you do your job. No federal or state tax is withheld from your pay checks. (Could be a disadvantage for some but you can make estimated payments. Make sure you have a good accountant. It’s well worth a couple hundred dollars!)
- Business operating deductions: Independent reps or independent contractors can take various business deductions one would not be able to take as an employee.
- Flexibility: Independent reps and independent contractor will work as much or as little as you need to generate the income you need
- Promote YOUR company: Build YOUR own Brand. Independent reps are really independent consultants and many have established their own business and as a result not only are they promoting the products they carry but they are promoting their own Business.
- Promote your own Image: Independents will focus Building their own image and brand. Independents promote themselves and maintain their own image. (Truly a priceless value)
- Fast Paced Growing Trend: Growth Trend for Independent Consultants in the US is over $50B and expected to grow faster in the USA. The Growth of Outsourcing Medical and Healthcare related products and services also presents a growing need for niche independent consultants. There are additional benefits with the role of an Independent Sales Representative in New Product Development and many other market research needs.
Despite the many advantages, being an independent rep or independent consultant is not always a bed of roses. Here are some potential challenges to consider before going independent:
- You have no job security as an independent – if you are completely independent. Well, you’ll have a job but INCOME might be an issue. You must be confident in your closing and business development capabilities.
- You won’t get paid if you’re not closing and developing business.
- You will need to pay your own taxes, especially if you are making more than your deductions.
- There are no paid holidays as a self employed independent contractor so if you are accustomed to taking sick days, don’t become independent! (Unless you pick up a couple of disposable lines with residual income from continuous re-orders or you don’t mind consultations on holidays / vacations.)
- You will need to understand and identify What makes a great product to promote - From the perspective of an independent rep.
There are so many advantages of becoming an independent consultant but the real challenge is having confidence in your sales or consulting ability, confidence enough to break away and become independent. Many independent contractors will never go back to an employee role again, after having built their independent consulting business. Before entering into or offering an independent position, be sure to understand the difference between an Employee or Independent opportunity.
For a fun visual, see our Infographic on Advantages of Self-employed Independent contractor