A recent survey of key UK buyers of consulting services showed that HR consultancy is on the up. That is great news for those HR professionals who are self-employed consultants, coaches or interims and for those who are thinking about taking the plunge. Because let’s face it it’s been a tough market of late and the need for resilience has been higher than ever. 

Research shows that people who move successfully into self-employment have the personal drive to keep going at all times, continually improving what they do and learning how things could be better. This could mean all sorts of things including looking at the products and services being offered, the administration processes being used, the marketing approach etc. 

In addition it is about picking yourself up after challenging times, being determined to win through and having the tenacity to keep going when you may feel like giving up. 

Inevitably, there are pressures associated with being self-employed and running your own HR consultancy or coaching  business. If resilience is low, these pressures lead to worry and anxiety which in turn reduce the drive to keep going. Reduced personal drive can begin a vicious downward spiral where proactivity, productivity and quality of delivery all suffer. 

Of course, just the opposite happens if you stay positive. Positive emotions and a positive outlook can produce an upward, positive spiral. 

Your levels of personal drive and resilience are strongly linked to factors such as your underlying personality and work attitudes. However, while such characteristics are important for resilience this does not mean that it is a fixed quality that you can’t develop or change. 

Most HR professionals have done a significant amount of personal and professional development and have a high level of self awareness. Nonetheless, working with a coach can give you insight into your own personality, specifically in relation to being self-employed, and help you identify simple techniques and ideas that you can use to build resilience. 

Challenges such as becoming self-employed can have a positive impact on your resilience levels. In broad terms the old saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” holds true. But it’s important to remember that several important conditions need to be in place to ensure that the challenge is a positive one rather than a damaging one:

1.  Your goals need to be tough but achievable. Struggling with impossible goals that cannot be achieved will not build resilience. You need to see the pay-off of achievement (however small) in return for the strain involved.

2.  You need a clear and valued sense of purpose. When you feel that what you are doing is worthwhile and valuable you can cope with much higher levels of adversity and stay focused.

3.  You need periods of respite. One of the most challenging things for people who become self-employed or start a business is the pressure to work all the time. Such attitudes are unhelpful and counter-productive. Tough challenges will build resilience only if they don’t go on too long. One critically important way to replenish your resilience is to take a break. This simply needs to be something different. Sitting with your feet up is fine – if that takes your mind off current frustrations and difficulties, so is rock-climbing, a leisurely dinner, stamp collecting or anything else that you enjoy and is not related to the business. 

Self-employment can be challenging but also very rewarding. Embrace the challenges, enjoy the rewards and go easy on yourself every now and again so that you can keep that going.