Let's compare what it's like to work full-time somewhere from the viewpoint of a consultant's perspective. This is something I couldn't do before, and very few if any of my coworkers ever talked about stuff like this at all:
Note: Obviously, not all corporations are bad places to work. I'm very much generalizing here from multiple past experiences at medium (say >50 people) to large corporations. There are some very nice companies out there too.
- Corporations are Control Freaks
Your control fetish "client" probably requires you to commute every day, sit in an office somewhere in a noisy non-optimal environment, and bang out code like a machine every day of the week for weeks and months at a time.
Some clients actually encourage the other "consultants" (your coworkers) to use peer pressure on you so you work longer than is sustainable or healthy. Or, they just require you to overwork yourself.
Some clients record and monitor all of your network traffic (or your emails, instant message traffic etc.), monitor when you enter and leave the workplace, etc.
You know what? Working for ultra-controlling clients like this sounds terrifying from my new perspective.
Now you need to put yourself on the market, start talking with recruiters, and dust-off your elite whiteboarding skills - fast.
With consulting, a good goal is to build up a community of potential clients over time and keep this community as happy as possible. You're not dependent on any single client this way, and you gain access to more potential projects this way. Price fixing is unlikely if your client community is diverse.
- Corporations can harbor, even encourage Toxic Teams
With consulting, we can first sign a short-term contract (from days to a few months depending on the scope) to feel each other out. If it doesn't work out, no big deal, the damage (to both parties) is minimized. Working for a new company as a consultant isn't this stressful, life changing event like changing jobs is.
- Corporations Demand Intense and Extreme Loyalty
Working full-time at a corporation, you negotiate, then sign a contract. That's usually it. Truly renegotiating can be tough, because to have a real negotiation you must be willing to leave. This is a type of client that demands total absolute loyalty! Many corporations even claim ownership over all your work, even things you do on your own time at home.
As a consultant, you can potentially renegotiate in between every project. It's not that big of a deal.
- Corporations are Work-A-Holics
At a corp, if I want to take time off I must check to see if I'm allowed first. At many places you only get a handful of weeks off once every year. If you get sick, or have some life changing event you need to deal with, you're potentially screwed.
This seems analogous to a "toxic client" in consulting, one that is super jealous and extremely demanding of your time!