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10 Personality Traits of Top Independent Contractors

There’s no question that hard work and the development of niche skill sets play a part in any successful Independent Contractor’s career, but what other components tip the odds in favor of the most successful?

At IProfessional, we have the privilege of working with a large number of established Independents and have witnessed hundreds of consulting success stories.  We often receive calls from motivated professionals who for one reason or another are seeking to go out on their own. Many have specialized skills and are in the process of securing their first contract, but have not given much thought about whether their personality matches that of a successful Independent.

If you’re thinking about joining the Independent movement, take a look at our list of 10 personality traits that we feel you should have or develop to become a successful independent contractor.

1. Self-Awareness – Independents must know and understand who they are and what they do.  Understanding your skills, values, interests and personality will go a long way in knowing what projects and clients to take on.  Having a solid grasp on what you can and can’t do will help you develop the right skills.

2. Self-Confidence – A solid belief in your abilities is a must for every contractor.  A ‘can do’ attitude comes from confidence in one’s abilities to succeed at the project at hand whether big or small.  Successful contractors look at challenging projects with excitement and enthusiasm that can often inspire others.

3. Goal Focused/Motivated -You must have the ability to clearly define the objectives of your professional life and be motivated to achieve these goals.  Keeping yourself on task is essential, especially is you will be working remotely.  Motivated Independents are more likely to finish projects well and on time, leading to happy clients.

4. Problem Solver – An independent contractor is in the business of problem solving so it is important to be passionate about this challenge.  By solving the problems you’re hired for as well as possibly finding some that the client wasn’t even aware of, can create value for the client and huge payoffs for your career.

5. Good Listener – Having a clear understanding of what your client’s expectations are will inevitably lead to a successful project and a satisfied customer.  Having the ability to suspend your own agenda and deliberately and empathically allow the client to be heard will help build trust and confidence with your clients.

6. Personable – The growth and longevity of your career heavily depends on your relationships with your clients. Independent contractors usually change assignments frequently and can be involved in many company cultures over a short period of time.  In many cases you will be seen as an outsider and in some instances, a threat to company employees.  You’ll need to be able focus on people and win their support.

7. Honest – An independent contractor’s integrity can be one of your most significant assets.  We all know that once you lose it, it can be hard to regain.  Make it a policy to speak the truth.

8. Networked – Maintaining a sharp focus on building relationships can lead to success.  Develop a strong circle of influence with interconnected positive relationships. Contract work isn’t just about skills and knowledge, it’s a people game.

9. Flexible – Being flexible with time and money is something many independent contractors must master.  Clients may demand more of your time than initially expected or make last minute changes to the project.  You may also experience your cash flow rising and falling as you transition from one contract to another, or if the client is late with payments.

10. Positive Attitude – “Championship thinking” is a trait many successful contractors possess.  A consistent ability to remain positive and optimistic can make all the difference in any scenario.

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