Becoming a Consultant: The Key to Work Life Balance?

Becoming a Consultant: The Key to Work Life Balance?
As you age, work-life balance becomes more and more important to many people. You may have been happy to throw yourself into your career in your twenties, allowing it to become your social life as well as your job, and building a reputation in your industry, but as people get into their thirties it’s common to look for a different balance. Whether it’s to accommodate a growing family, take better care of your mental and physical health, or pursue volunteering causes outside work, time becomes as important a part of your calculations as money. 

Today we’re taking a look at consulting work: is striking out as a consultant a route toward a better work-life balance? Could business strategy consulting be the next career for you?

A Way Into Consulting

Getting into the field is the first hurdle. It’s not something you can enter cold - you need some useful experience that you could bring to other businesses. Fortunately, this can be a way to convert crises into capital: going through difficult, stressful situations at work and finding a way through is a great experience for advising other people!

Fortunately consulting is a broad field - it’s not just the sort of boardroom management consulting you might imagine at first. Whatever your expertise, be it HR or product launches, if you have a confident character and real insights to offer you can make that skill work for you.

The final thing that helps is reputation - networking throughout your career so you have contacts in different businesses and are known outside your immediate workplace helps you to gain a foothold and get those important first contracts.

The Working Day

The reality for many consultants is that you’ll work more hours than you’re contracted for, and given the nature of the employment, will not be paid for those hours. Successful consultants command high enough fees to make the workload worth it, but most consultants can expect between 50-80 working hours per week - on the face of it, not an improvement over the standard 9-5.

Consulting work includes lots of meetings and presentations with clients, whether you’re pitching your services, or providing the advice and insight you’re paid for. Between those meetings, you’ll be sifting through data and finding strategies to apply to create success and good outcomes for the business you’re working for.


The advantage in terms of work-life balance comes in when you and how you do that work. As an outside expert, you’re in charge of your time - as long as you’re able to deliver when it counts, and are available to provide that all-important insight, you decide how you structure the work around those contact hours.

You also have the choice of what work you take on. Looking at the structure of your working year, rather than your working week, you have more options for choosing intense but highly rewarding projects with extended time off in between or maintaining a steady flow of less demanding but less remunerative contracts.

It’s not a field for everyone, and it doesn’t offer work-life balance at the ‘working day’ level, but getting into consulting comes with a lot of independence and flexibility that may well appeal!

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