World Reimagined

How Erin Halper Is Empowering Independent Consultants Worldwide

How Erin Halper Is Empowering Independent Consultants Worldwide

Meet Erin Halper, the CEO of The Upside, a company born from a deeply personal experience that has since transformed into a global movement empowering independent consultants.

Erin’s entrepreneurial journey was catalyzed by a life-altering moment when her first child was born with a heart defect. As she balanced motherhood with her work as a consultant, she witnessed the privilege she had in the flexibility of her work schedule. This powerful realization led Erin to establish The Upside, the leading learning and community hub for independent consultants worldwide. Ultimately, Erin’s journey with The Upside mirrors her own growth, standing as a testament to her unwavering dedication to the cause of redefining success and fostering empowerment in the world of independent consulting.

We asked Erin about what sets The Upside apart from other similar organizations in the industry and how she would describe the journey she’s been on.

Q: Tell us the story behind your company’s founding. How and why did you start working on The Upside?

A: My first son was born in 2011 with a heart defect that required multiple surgeries, endless doctor appointments, and weeks of hospital stays. One afternoon at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, I took a lap around the PICU and noticed that many kids were alone, with no parent at their bedside. The reason? Their parents either had other children at home to tend to, had to go to work, or both. 

At that moment, I realized my immense privilege as an independent consultant: being my own boss, having complete control over my schedule, and working remotely from a laptop next to my baby’s hospital bed. I couldn’t imagine working any other way.

In 2017, I became frustrated at the rise of predatory multilevel marketing companies touting perfect work/life balance and disheartened by the rising number of professionals in my network leaving their careers behind for lack of flexibility. I started The Upside to help experienced professionals launch, build, and scale consultancies and breathe new life into their careers with more flexibility, impact, and financial reward than their former full-time jobs. Seven years later, we are now the leading learning and community hub for independent consultants worldwide.

Q: What are some of the most meaningful impacts The Upside has had so far? 

A: In 2023, we estimated $40 million in economic advancement for our community members as a direct result of being part of The Upside. That’s a huge financial gap that’s being filled through knowledge-sharing, relationships, and referrals made inside our community. This number doesn’t even take into account the thousands of people who have downloaded our free guides and follow our weekly newsletters. For me, there’s nothing more meaningful than seeing our work make a positive impact on people’s confidence, goals, and bank accounts. 

Q: What makes The Upside different from other similar companies in the industry?

A: Being niche and focused has helped us stand out from the very beginning, especially in a sea of communities that try to be all things to all people and scale too quickly. We know who we are and who we aren’t, and we feel confident in what we do and what we don’t do. Being in such a niche space has helped us become experts in our vertical and grow in a thoughtful, slow, and intentional way. 

Q: What’s one thing you wish you had known before starting The Upside?

A: The importance of delegation. Anytime I hired a new team member, I always wished I had done it six months earlier.

I wish I had kept bigger blinders on, especially when it came to social media and the pressure to keep up with every hashtag, hack, and trend. In fact, taking the company off of Instagram in 2022 was one of the best decisions I ever made. It freed up so much of my time, budget, and resources, and had no negative impact on the company’s growth. 

Q: What’s the biggest misconception that others have around entrepreneurship?

A: If you build it, they will come. I promise that without significant time, effort, and investment into your business, they absolutely will not come. There are no shortcuts, overnight sensations, or secret hacks. If you aren’t willing to play the long game, then don’t pick up the ball.

Q: Have you felt like giving up? What made you persist?

A: In 2022, we were celebrating five years in business. But I was really struggling with the aftermath of the post-Covid-19 world. After two years of juggling kids at home, no childcare, few social interactions, and running a full-time business, my tank felt especially low. However, when I thought about the alternatives of not working at all or going back to a full-time job, I knew I couldn’t give up the business. Instead, I called a strategist I knew and hired her team for a full-company audit and brand revamp. Through that “Hail Mary” investment, I learned where to focus my efforts. A year later, I was able to work half the hours while doubling earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization. Needless to say, I’m glad I persisted!

Q: Has your definition of success evolved throughout your journey as a founder?

A: One of the biggest and most important shifts I’ve made in business is changing how I define the word “success.” When I first started the company, all of my visions of success came from the ego: X amount of revenue, X number of members, speaking on global stages, and landing quotes in popular magazines. With time, I discovered that these goals were purely superficial and absolutely not an indicator of success. As I evolved and matured, I shifted my definition of success to reflect the lifestyle that brought me the least amount of stress and the most fulfillment: working fewer hours per week, earning a CEO salary, making an impact on people’s lives and having more time to volunteer. Is Inc. Magazine calling me to be on their next cover? Nope. Am I living the life of my dreams? Absolutely.

Q: How would you describe the journey you’ve had in a few sentences? Would you do it all over again?

A: In many ways, I feel as if The Upside and I have grown up together. As I’ve matured, so has the company. As I’ve become more focused and intentional, so has the company. As I’ve succeeded, so has the company.

The journey has been one of personal and professional growth beyond my wildest dreams, from building life-long friendships to expanding my own thoughts on what’s possible. Would I do it all over again? One thousand percent yes.

Erin is a member of Dreamers & Doers, an award-winning community that amplifies extraordinary women entrepreneurs, investors, and leaders by securing PR, forging authentic connections, and curating high-impact resources. Learn more about Dreamers & Doers and get involved here.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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Gesche Haas

Gesche Haas is the Founder/CEO of Dreamers & Doers, a private collective that amplifies the entrepreneurial pursuits of extraordinary women through visibility opportunities, resource exchange, and collective support.

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