We have all heard the expression Conflict of Interest however, how often do we stop and think about it's meaning and the implications it can have on us as Consultants. Our reputations are sacred and should be protected at all costs. It's important to recognise a Conflict of interest and why it has occurred in the first place. When we consult with the Client we always consider our actions and potential conflicts of interest so why do we not always do the same for ourselves?
I was asked to define Conflict of Interest by my 11 year old and found myself describing it in terms of war and providing preferential treatment due to a situation that has occurred. Non of this is important. What matters is the decision you make when faced with a Conflict of Interest. As an example, a potential Client offers you work and whilst very excited about the prospect you cannot help thinking whether the means by which you obtained the business is in Conflict with your current position. How do you test it? You want the work because this means potential growth of your company so, what do you do? Take a calculated risk or make a disclosure that could jeopardise your current contract due the nature of your new opportunity.
The fact is as a Consultant you are not bound by traditional employment contracts, set holidays and absence, instead, you have the flexibility to grow the business and reach out to potential Clients whether obtained via warm contacts or not. The decision is yours to make really, so long as you are not demonstrating favour or reciprocating service agreements then I think we can pursue alternatives for growth. Always question yourself and understand whether there is a potential Conflict of Interest.
Seek Counsel, Sometimes it's good to use a colleague as a sounding board just to see whether what you are considering makes sense or is a risk. Either way, be careful, ensure you are not in breach of confidentiality agreements. Keep your Client informed if necessary. no surprises.