(3 minute read)
I made a huge mistake at the beginning of my independent consulting career. Thankfully, it didn’t come back to haunt me. But it’s something that you can learn from when starting your own consultancy business.
It all started with boredom.
I had a good corporate job and I earned six-figures. But I had this driving urge to go my own way. I had a general idea of what I could do…
So, I quit.
I left my job and started building what would eventually become my consulting business. And I most definitely did it the hard way.
When I started this new career of mine, I had no plan and no experience as a consultant. All I had was the knowledge that I’d spent years accumulating and a desire to create my own business.
I’d also only just moved back to London from Madrid, so I didn’t have a decent network to lean on for work.
Those first 18 months of my new career were tough. I lost count of the number of times that I felt like throwing in the towel. But I persevered because I knew that the alternative was to go back to a career that bored me senseless.
And I got lucky.
I managed to make this massive gamble work out for me. But in hindsight, I can tell you that I went about starting my consulting business in all of the wrong ways.
Do not follow in my footsteps.
Instead, I recommend starting your new career as a side-hustle first so that you can develop it while having security. And I have a few tips that will help you do just that.
Tip #1 – Use Your Day Job to Develop Useful Skills
Today, we know of Apple as one of the largest companies in the world.
But back in the early-1970, it was just a side-hustle start-up for Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Both had full-time jobs – Wozniak at Hewlett-Packard and Jobs at Atari – and they worked on Apple in a garage.
They spent their spare time working on the Apple 1 while they earned a living from their day jobs. In particular, and perhaps most importantly, they both worked for some of the most prominent computer hardware manufacturers of that time.
There’s no doubt that Jobs and Wozniak picked up skills from their day jobs to use in their side-hustle.
You need to do the same.
Take advantage of your opportunity to understand your industries challenges, best practices and future opportunities while in your day job. You may just be able to leverage this knowledge as you step into your new career.
Tip #2 – Do the Minimum Viable Preparations
I went into my new business without a plan. I had no idea what route I’d take, which meant I had no certainty in my work.
Don’t do the same.
Instead, do the minimum viable preparations required for your new business.
Draw out plans that cover the service you plan to offer and what you hope to achieve. Look at the market you’re entering and figure out where you’ll fit into it.
Also, consider what your ideal client looks like. These are the people whom you’ll target with your limited resources.
I also recommend looking back on your career. What work have you done in the past that you can leverage in your role as a consultant? Write the answers down and use them as the basis of your offer.
Tip #3 – Understand Your Personal Values (And Build Them Into Your New Business)
What are the most important things to you?
It’s a crucial question to answer because you need to create this side-hustle with more than just money in mind. Your values serve as the motivation behind this new endeavour.
Do you want to create freedom for yourself and your family?
But what does freedom mean to you and what do you need to build into the business to make it happen?
Maybe you’re more interested in creating security for yourself.
Again, figure out how to build the business around that value. Remember that your business is a reflection of you. If it doesn’t align with your personal values, it won’t work.
Tip #4 – Dig Deep To Create More Time
Chances are your current job more than fills your working hours.
Then add in family time, time with friends, and time doing all the routine things that have just got to be done.
Where is the spare time to create a side hustle?
There isn’t any!
But if you dig deep and got up just one-hour earlier each day then three months you’d create 90 hours to work in your side-hustle.
More than enough time to complete your initial plans and service offering.
Tip #5 – Focus on Marketing and Business Development
Believe me when I say that you will need them!
You could be the most talented consultant in the world, but it won’t matter if nobody’s heard of you. And being a good consultant also doesn’t necessarily mean that you have the skills needed to build a business.
Focusing solely on the technical delivery aspects was one of the big mistakes I made early on. It’s only later that I learned how to build an actual business and attract quality leads.
This isn’t to say that delivery isn’t as important as those things.
My point is that having a quality service offering isn’t a guarantee of success. You need great effective marketing to ensure people know who you are. And you need strong systems in your business to keep everything running smoothly.
Do It the Right Way
I took the hard road when building my consulting business, and it could have gone so wrong. It was only a combination of knowledge, hard work and luck that got me out of the woods.
To accelerate your initial success avoid my mistakes and follow these five tips.
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