Being an entrepreneur is probably one of the most “in vogue” and “cool” things to do right now. In a recent business meeting, a guest described it as a sort of “fad”. The ability to set your own hours and call yourself a “CEO” has the effect of a powerful drug running through your veins, and turns enterprising people into marketing gurus. If you add the words “LLC” or “Incorporated” behind your new creation, you suddenly are just one big break away from being the next Steve Jobs or Mark Bezos.
The most popular new startup idea that I see happening is “consulting”. Consulting is amazing because it requires almost ZERO hard skills (It sounds like consultant bashing but I am one, so yeah). You don’t really have to be great at numbers, coding, engineering, or writing (although all of these things are helpful). The most successful consultants have to have the ability to work hard, sell, network, and relate to the client on a personal level. Consultants at the highest level have the ability to set their own hours, work from just about anywhere, and set rates exceeding $400/hr.
At this point we’re all just faking it to we make it”
I read a post recently where a friend of mine “discouraged” many individuals without the necessary experience from starting their own consulting business or LLC. The best argument was that there is a certain level of patience required and learning of a particular skill set. There was significant merit to the things she was saying, and she many good points I could not refute. I thought about her thought process before I started writing and I realized that I have heard the same arguments from people telling me to wait to start MY business.
I think that there are arguments for waiting that have a lot of merit. To start consulting you may need more job experience, school experience, and time to create a more beneficial and refined product. However, I look at the argument discouraging people from starting that business you envisioned and I still would encourage you to do it anyway 10 out of 10 times.
1.Starting (and maintaining) a business is a humbling experience
“Nothing tugs at all of your deficiencies like managing a business.”
You might start a business thinking that the marketing, accounting, networking, outsourcing, and website management can be done just by managing a few applications. You will start to count the hours in the day and realize there aren’t enough to compensate for all of the things you have to accomplish. At some point, the amount of work is not as difficult as it is impractical. Companies, even as small as 20 employees, often employ a CEO, CFO, CIO, and an outside marketing agency just to manage their limited operations.
The humility that comes typically pushes people in two directions. People either:
- Decide that entrepreneurship and starting their own business just isn’t right at this time. These people are not necessarily quitting or giving up, but rather stepping back into the shoes of reality and addressing their deficiencies in the hopes of trying again later in life. This is not necessarily a bad thing though. Going back to the drawing board with a streamlined approach and new goals is the best way to hone in your focus whenever it is lost.
- Realizing that it can’t be done alone will force the networking and collaboration that is necessary for growth. Have you ever seen anybody fall flat on their face, only to get right back up and realize they should probably be more careful? Learning to thrive in business is a lot like learning to walk. You are going to fall the first couple of times, but you will develop your own rhythm and cadence.
2. There is a lot of “technical” startup knowledge that isn’t taught in school
If you actually were to spend the hours and hours it takes to set up an LLC or to incorporate a company, these are eye-opening experiences. If you call yourself an LLC and you’re not actually a Limited Liability Company, then you are more so a fraud. Writing your first articles of incorporation (takes forever), building out the by-laws, and composing the officers of a company are all thought provoking opportunities that yield a road map to success or at least a framework for your big ideas. The sourcing and contracting of a lawyer is a really good lesson in cost management and relationship building.
Keeping on top of the different requirements from the state and more importantly from the IRS is a challenge within itself and teaches a tremendous level of responsibility. Ultimately, you might find early on that the name of the game is outsourcing. It is best to make sure that you know what things you can accomplish yourself and what would be more efficient if handled by someone else.
There is no checklist that will lay out starting a business to perfection. Every idea merits it own roadmap and will encounter different speed bumps. Perhaps you experience them and fall flat on your face. You will get up knowing which way to walk the next time.
3.DOing is always better than Talking
I am a big believer in just doing things that contribute to your dreams and vision. There are a lot of studies that are conducted that are say you should “write your dreams down” or “”plan out the future you want to have”; but the act of actually taking the first step may actually be the hardest. If a person is unwilling to act a little bit recklessly, the idea of entrepreneurship will always sound crazy!
That consulting business probably will fail. There is a good chance that not enough people will be willing to take the flyer on a “fresh out of college consultant”. There is also a sure chance that the learning lessons from this experience will not be debilitating, but rather the stimulus of further growth. Sometimes simply telling someone that you are encouraged by their big dreams or the posts that they write is enough to make their day and encourage them when work gets overwhelming.
All of our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them” – Walt Disney.
Keep Dreaming Folks, maybe your consulting firm is the next McKinsey or Bain, but more likely it could fail. Simply add your name and put in the hard work required to make it all a reality. Success is inevitable if you keep trying, keep grinding, and learn from every experience.