I had a great conversation recently with someone who was interested in starting their own business consultancy. They wanted to know how I got started, and I thought it might be helpful to share my story with all of you as well.
When I first started Let's Make Great! in 2013, I actually didn't have any background in consulting, but I did have a strong curiosity. I knew that breaking into the industry would be tough, but I also knew that it was possible if I was willing to put in the work.
What type of consulting do you want to do?
At that time, I didn't even know what the word consulting really meant. One of the first things I did was to figure out what type of consulting I wanted to do. For me, it was innovation, so I tried to find related innovation companies and consultants. I reached out to them for coffee meetings and tried to get interviews.
I also reached out to other people that I thought were interesting, from creative agencies, management consulting, architectural firms, artists, designers, leadership trainers, internal corporate incubators and startup accelerators. I also aimed at varying levels of maturity in their professions to better understand possible career trajectories.
This cross section of people each offered their own insight, helping me to triangulate what type of consultant I wanted to be. At the same time, I also discovered what I didn't want to be as well, which was important!
How do consultants think?
Through these meetings, I was able to pick their brains and learn about their processes, projects, and key mindsets. While I ultimately wasn't able to break in that way, I did learn a lot about the industry. All of this knowledge eventually helped me when I decided to start my own consultancy.
Starting my own consultancy was a much harder path, but it was more suited to my personality and style. I built up my client base through thought-leadership, by giving talks and writing articles on the type of work I wanted to do.
I also participated in events that allowed me to test my capabilities in other areas. For me, that meant Startup Weekend, Bootcamp, and other startup related events. I volunteered as a mentor at these events, which allowed me to learn new material, test my capabilities and interests, network with people in the industry, and be identified as a leader in the field.
Why do all this?
Looking back, it was a lot of work, but I saw it as a marketing investment to seed future client-projects. And going back to those initial coffee meetings, I was able to meet other leaders who might have too many projects and it'd spill over to my plate (once they trusted me).
The most difficult thing is beginning, just start. There's a million ways to break in, but the most important thing is starting. For anyone interested in starting their own consultancy, I would recommend figuring out what type of consulting you want to do, attending talks and events, volunteering as a mentor, and building up your client base through thought-leadership.
I hope my story was helpful to anyone who is interested in starting their own consultancy. It's a lot of work, but if you're passionate about it, it can be a very rewarding career.