Rahul

I can now exercise choice… regarding what kind of projects I would like to take up.
Tell us about yourself

I have an Electronics & Communication Engineering degree, post which I did my post-graduation degree in Forest Management from the Indian Institute of forest management, Bhopal. Even though my specialization is actually forestry management, the curriculum covered a lot of general management studies as well.

Right after doing my post-graduation, I got placed in IMRB in 2008 in a campus placement interview. I would say it was pure luck that got me into Market Research. I happened to have great mentorship and training there which incidentally led me into falling in love with Market Research. I stayed with Kantar until 2020 and then I started my own Independent practice.

On the personal front, I love reading and have an impressive collection in my library. Reading is like meditation for me. My Favorite genres are History & a bit of Fiction. I am an avid cyclist as well and go out for a morning cycle ride to enjoy the greenery in Dehradun.

What does it mean for you to work on your own?

There are two aspects to this: professional as well as personal.

Professionally, I can now exercise choice, at least theoretically, regarding what kind of projects I would like to take up. As an ‘employed consultant’, one needs to take up the work which comes irrespective of whether the interest lies there or not. During my time at Kantar, I did get to do projects which were not really market research projects and did not offer anything to learn or to be excited about. This is something on which I now have a much better control. This is important to me since I love market research work – and I am a bit puritanical about what kind of projects classify as market research. At the same time, I am cognizant of the ever-changing needs of clients (themselves driven by market dynamics) and am quite open to explore areas allied to / similar to pure market research.

On the personal front, I am able to spend somewhat more time with my family and that is something which I really cherish about being able to work on my own.

How did you find your niche as an Independent Consultant?

I have been a B2B market researcher throughout my career. That is where my training happened and that is where I gained all my experience. Over the last decade and more, I have come to love the challenge, variety and learning potential which B2B market research projects offer. Therefore, my niche was already decided for me when I took the plunge as an independent consultant. At the same time, I keep exploring ways to increase my skill set in order to diversify in other streams of market research.

What challenges do you face ?

Three broad aspects are Business Development/Marketing, Operations & Legal/ Financial Aspects.

Business Dev/Marketing: Been in the industry for more than 11-12 years. People have concerns when it comes to hiring a freelancer. They question if they have a Team or support for research requirements. Time is a constraint when it comes to marketing oneself. Between delivering the projects on deadline and handling financials, it is difficult to allocate time for business development.

Operations​: Delivering within the deadline when doing everything on your own.

Legal/Commercial​: It takes a lot of time when it comes to taking care of financial aspects and also to understand how the legal procedures work when liaising with a large organisation.
None of these are make or break to being a freelancer, but these are the challenges. It’s fun to do everything but it’s a steep learning curve.

How do you usually find projects/work from new clients?

Mostly through my contacts from my time at Kantar and through references. I have also received one project from InsightGig and I do look forward from receiving many more in the coming months.

Why did you sign up with InsightGig?

Before InsightGig, I signed up for other platforms like Stratlancer, freelancer.com.
Freelancer covers a lot of different domains. Stratlancer is more Strategy-based consulting but I was not able to get any projects from both. I wasn’t really sure how platforms help unless they have a strong Business Development team who are able to bring in projects.
I came to know about InsightGig through one of their Founder’s, who was a mentor and comes with a lot of experience and references in the industry.

How did InsightGig solve your challenges?

My Main objective in joining any platform is to get new projects.Because you can’t compromise on delivering the projects and neither can you compromise on the time taken to sort the financial & legal aspects. Business Development & Marketing usually gets neglected and that’s where InsightGig has helped. It has helped me get more work.

IG Taskforce: How was it collaborating with another Insight Partner on a project?

It was a good experience. The main challenge within the Insights community is the quality of Fieldwork. The other Expert did a good job with the fieldwork for the project we co- worked on. Getting the right people to work with you on domains where you need to do things like Fieldwork or Advanced analytics is required. Beyond that, even having another researcher to work with also helps give the client a bundled package of sorts. When the requirement is large in terms of qual, quant & B2B , A bundled offer with different experts works well.

How was your overall experience working with InsightGig?

It’s been good. I’ve received a few briefs and worked on a project as well.In the other platforms, I did not get even a brief. Here, i’ve received 4-5 briefs already. That’s good progress in a few months. Brief’s are the first step for a freelancer to succeed. If the inflow of projects are consistent , it depends on the freelancer to get the projects.

Are you excited to get more global business & more opportunities with InsightGig?

I am definitely excited to get more global exposure and business. As global customers have well- defined brief’s and the financial benefits are good too.
I am hopeful of more briefs and excited to work on more opportunities with InsightGig. There are currently no vertical focused platforms in India , but there are many good Insight experts.

Tell us your tips on how to succeed as an Independent Consultant.

It has been just over 15 months since I ventured out as an independent consultant. I am still learning the tricks of the trade. However, if I were to attempt an answer, I would largely stick to three points:

  1. Time management is essential to success. Unlike a full-time employee, an independent consultant needs to wear many hats. As an independent consultant you are your own CEO and your own housekeeping staff (and everything in between). And you just have 24 hours in a day. Juggling all those roles requires good time management.
  2. While getting projects is challenging, what would make the work sustainable is the quality of the delivery. That is what would make clients return back. Therefore, there shouldn’t be any compromise on that front. At the same time, timeliness of delivery is also important and that’s ‘don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.’
  3. Bite off only what you can chew. As an independent consultant, one usually does not have a back-up team to take up surges in assignments. At the same time, it is painful having to let go of some (you don’t know if the client will ever come back). But letting go (politely, and by clearly telling that you do not have a bandwidth to deliver quality work) is much better than compromising on time and quality.