Solopreneur Jayne Heggen knows the power of asking hard questions. They are essential, she feels, in guiding clients through the chaos and helping them stay on the path to success. That’s the purpose of her consultancy, the Heggen Group, which relies on an evolving virtual team to serve her clients. These are approaches for which Heggen’s own career — with time spent in music and gymnastics as well as roles in accounting, process design, operations and marketing — has uniquely equipped her.

As CEO of her own consultancy, Heggen designs and implements practical strategies for the operations of businesses ranging from small companies to mid-cap Fortune 500 firms. This vantage point has taught Heggen how many of the tools and methodologies common in major businesses can also be used by independents looking to grow their own businesses. Jayne Heggen of Heggen Group on using a virtual team serve consulting clients

Heggen shares more about that view below. And don’t miss where Heggen mentions how she’ll soon be launching a service that 1099ers will be very interested in.

Update, June 20, 2017: Our original conversation with Jayne Heggen was late summer, 2016. We decided to check back to see how her first half of 2017 is going; you’ll find those thoughts closer to the end of this piece. One thing we learned was that Heggen’s process utility patent continues, though not quite as quickly as she’d anticipated. Forward movement is on hold, she says, because a key figure fell out of the mix. She expects to have a better sense of the patent’s future by the end of this year.

In the meantime, Heggen says, “I have definitely discovered what doesn’t work. As they say, the path is often not what you anticipate as you move towards your destination — it’s the journey that counts.”

Read on to see what Heggen’s journey looks like today.

Can you briefly describe what you do?

My marketing and advertising operations consulting business focuses on clients’ critical challenges and opportunities: organization, operations, transformation, talent, relationships and financial compliance across all media channels and disciplines. Fully understanding the underlying processes that support business issues and opportunities is the core of everything I do. I am a solopreneur. Heggen Group is a virtual team of credentialed colleagues and consultants that I bring together as necessary for client contracts. I either know them directly and can vouch for the quality of their work or they have been recommended by trusted colleagues.

More on this topic: When Should a Consultant Hire Subcontractors?

Can — and should — a freelancer use the same strategy mapping tools your Fortune 500 clients use?

The business model canvas is a great tool. Much like blue ocean and other strategy mapping tools. After the initial flurry and excitement around these mapping tools, I found that clients typically lost interest when the effort required was more fully understood.

What kind of effort is required?

The simple answer, it depends. To create a business model canvas you need to have full understanding of the underlying business processes that generate the data necessary to populate this model.

The need for a team of virtual consultants is rapidly being replaced by the need for virtual teams.  

For organizations that have their process mapped and data reporting dashboards in place, then consulting to provide customized scenarios is a value add.  For organizations that do not have these critical tools in place, they need to be built before any type of business model mapping can take place.

More on this topic: It’s the Content! How to Write a Business Plan for Your Consulting Career

What is the payoff for investing this time?

The business model canvas is the roadmap for coming to agreement on a company direction.  The payoff is implementing the recommendations generated from the mapping effort.

You are actively developing a virtual outsourced agency system and method designed to “reset” the approach for how agencies deploy and manage creative talent. Can you tell us more about this?

My process utility patent is driving how technology and the IoT [Internet of Things] come together to create on demand an entire “agency” to meet client marketing & advertising solution needs, for a specified period of time. The model is geared to solopreneurs, contract SMEs and credentialed freelancers. Said another way, this will not be a place to look for a job.

When will you launch?

Launch is anticipated in 2017. Betas are currently in place at a more manual level — Heggen Group LLC is the first beta.

Do you see a role for 1099ers — freelancers, independent consultants, solopreneurs — in this?

Absolutely. The need for a team of virtual consultants is rapidly being replaced by the need for virtual teams. The patent is the basis for building virtual teams to meet this new demand.

Thinking about a virtual team? Read this: Communication Breakdown? Nail Working With A Remote Team!

How has 2017 been treating you so far?

2017 has been a year of old and new learnings.  Referral projects continue, but at a slower pace than in previous years as many of my clients and colleagues have changed careers  or industries. It’s been an opportune time to plan moving my consulting business online. I’m rethinking products, audiences, you name it.

It’s thrilling and at the same time a little overwhelming.  As they say, you can’t change if you don’t step into the change stream. I’m about mid-stream.

As an agency operations expert, can you tell us about some of those old and new insights you’ve gained?

The majority of my projects are process assessment and organization design. A few learnings:
1. Processes are not static.
2. Accountabilities are key to streamlining.
3. Job descriptions direct work.

If any of these are not reviewed on an annual basis they quickly become outdated. Although clients will often say they have a process problem, most of the time it’s a people problem due to misalignment of accountabilities and job requirements/performance.  Once these critical organizational components are corrected, then look to refine the processes.

Do you have any observations about the gig economy in 2017?

It’s growing and will continue to grow. I read somewhere that by 2020 the gig economy will encompass 40% of all jobs. I believe we are closer to that number today, especially with so many underreported gig workers.

You have the type of job that is hard to escape. How you manage your own work/life balance?

Work/life balance remains a critical component for our own productivity and personal success. That’s not new news, however many of us still expect life to play by rules we learned a long time ago.

We need to be more flexible to the realities our current environments. Once we understand this we are better able to balance both work and life events.

Read more on work/life balance: How To Be More Productive With Your Accountability Group

Shari Shallard has been a writer and editor for more than 15 years, working in online and print media for industries including healthcare, education and travel. She also once loved to relax and read novels, but now she has three kids.