Elance Blog

Working Virtually

How does a brick-and-mortar consultant transition to a successful virtual entrepreneur?  For Aftab Qureshi (Elance ID:  westknight), the answer came by thinking through three important areas.  More on that later.

Before making the transition, Aftab was a marketing consultant for more than 20 years and spent his early career working for Fortune 100 companies such as Toyota, Honda, P&G, Dunlop, Cable & Wireless, Citibank, Reckitt Benckiser and the US Navy.

Taking a friend’s casual advice to try Elance in 2006, Aftab became an Elance provider. “It wasn’t very serious, just to see how things would go and what kind of response I would receive.”

And then in April 2007, Aftab and his family moved to Santiago, Chile. With limited knowledge of the Spanish language to start with, Aftab spent three months looking for work in his new country, when he had an epiphany, “I already had Elance, all in English and with potential clients from all over the world.”

Aftab has now made Elance his full-time focus, provides Fortune 100 expertise in Marketing and Business Planning, and has even expanded his business to include consulting on how to outsource. He enjoys the benefits of being independent noting “you have a lot more freedom, no minimum or maximum on your earnings. You work when you want day or night and you are only accountable to yourself. The sky is the limit.”

Aftab believes that if your prior work experience is with larger companies, Elance can be a great way to transition from the large corporate world to the world of independent consulting.  If you are thinking of transitioning to a full-time independent freelancing career, Aftab recommends considering three important areas before taking the plunge:

  1. Take an inventory.  It takes time to build up your online clientele, and you’ll find success if you plan your transition with the right resources.  Be sure to have family or financial support to help you make it through the build up period.
  2. Be patient.  Your new business may take 6 - 12 months to take root. 
  3. Think broadly.  Do you like to plan, execute, and manage?  As an independent consultant or freelancer, you wear all of the hats.

And once you’ve taken the plunge, here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Select a niche – focus your energies and efforts
  • Learn the science and art of online marketing – it is different than traditional marketing
  • Learn to use Elance – it has tremendous potential

What tips do you have to help ease the transition to independent freelancer?


Great article. Thank you. I've been freelancing as a web designer for over a year, have used Elance providers, and recently decided to become an Elance provider myself. I think it's a genius website.

Here are some things that made my freelance business take off quickly (within 3 months after I started):

1. I created my website and sent out a blast to my contact list which almost immediately generated 5 projects.
2. I joined a BNI networking group which generated 7 projects in the 6 months I was part of it. 2 of them came from a 15 second conversation at a BNI training event I went to reluctantly. I left the BNI group when I moved.

Between these two steps I've had a steady stream of projects and new clients for over a year now. Developing my business on Elance is a next step in growing my business and creating more freedom for me to work from anywhere. Thanks for such an amazing service and thanks to Aftab.