Sharing My Journey
In my journey into consulting, starting in 2015 and then getting a re-boot in 2018, the most common message I get on LinkedIn is from aspiring consultants, people very much like myself who don't 100% love their work situation and want to make a massive change, to leave the cubicle and get out into the world as a consultant.
When I think about what I can share with the world, to contribute, this is one area where I have some first-hand knowledge - not just theories but hard earned experiences of trying things, failing, trying other things and eventually having some big success.
So I'm going to write a series of blog posts on this subject that will eventually turn into a video course and maybe a live in-person training. Organizations the world over would benefit from an army of skilled, high energy analytics consultants armed with the best tools and frameworks for unraveling the measurement messes that most companies endure as the status quo.
A Life of Certainty is a Boring Life
Do you agree? Your unfair advantage is that you're willing to do what it takes to escape the gravitational pull of a safe situation, to instead chase an adventure with greater financial and emotional rewards. But this great adventure isn't for everyone.
There are six human needs, one of which is certainty - if you're someone that places certainty at the top of your list of needs then you're probably not a good candidate for consulting work even in the comfortable cradle of working for a consulting company.
Take the test here to find out how you prioritize your needs: SIX HUMAN NEEDS
Doing the Basics Well
If you are interested in taking the leap into consulting there are three areas you must get figured out.
The first is WHY. Why are you interested in leaving the cozy cubicle of certainty for a life of uncertainty, significance, and contribution? I urge you to get to know yourself and to begin articulating the person you will become, the pleasures you will experience, and the pains you will avoid if you move in a new direction. A strong, emotional WHY creates the energy that drives the entire process of human transformation. Get out a piece of paper and write it down now.
The second is WHAT. What compelling future are you moving toward. Stop wasting energy complaining about your current situation and get your head pointed in the direction you want to go. Create a compelling future that is worth getting out of bed in the morning ready to own the day. Start with 1 year goals and work them down to what you need to do this quarter, this month, this week, today as you move toward a clear outcome. Focus on a clear WHAT unconsciously leads our mind toward our goals. Write it down now.
The third is HOW. How will you get from where you are today to where you want to be? Start with a 1 year goal and break it down into what you can do this quarter, this month, this week today. You will fight overwhelm by making a little bit of progress everyday. You will fight frustration by realizing that there is no failure, only strategies that work and strategies that don't, and learning in between. Speed up your learning by modeling those who are already successful - surround yourself with the words, emotions, and meanings of the people you want to become. HOW you get from here to there seems like the hard part, but with a strong, emotional WHY and a compelling WHAT you'll have the energy and vision to make it work.
Most of the questions that float around on LinkedIn around consulting are about the HOW -- Taxes, health insurance, acquiring clients. The short answer to these is 1) pay them, 2) buy it, and 3) go out and listen to people talk about their problems. A lot of what I'm going to write about over the next few months concerns the HOW of starting an analytics consulting business, but know that the HOW is the least important when it comes to your success.
Your strong, emotional WHY and your compelling WHAT will be the things that make you successful in every area of your life, especially when you go out on the great adventure of starting a consulting business. Sign up for my email newsletter to follow along as I drop some knowledge.
Each of you who's thought about leaving a full-time job, steady paycheck has experienced the chasm. The chasm is that space between where you are and where you want to be, and it's mostly in your head.
Your River is More Like a Creek
The chasm. It's terrifying. It feels terrifying. You're asking yourself, how can I get from where I am today, my full-time job, to where I want to be, a choose yourself consulting life. You know it requires a leap, and you're imagining crossing a river that looks like this ...
But for people that have made the leap, looking back they'll tell you "eh it wasn't that bad."
What people who've made the leap will tell you is "I wish I had done it sooner." The reality is you're trying to cross a creek that looks more like this ...
And you're also going to be wearing a life preserver just in case you can't jump 4-5 feet all at once.
So if you're somebody standing at the edge contemplating the chasm, let me share a few ideas that you can upload into your system. Here forward this advice falls under the "Crossing the Consulting Chasm Operating System", the CCCOS.
If you're an employer reading this, and you have talented people that could use this information to better their situation, my best advice is to go ahead and better their situation proactively. Reach out to me and I can give a few suggestions on how to retain your best analytics people (without spending any more $$$).
5 Ideas to Upload
First, the worst thing that can happen to you if you decide to be a consultant is that you fail and you have to go find another full-time job.
Boo hoo. If you're the type of person that's even considering leaving then you're probably someone in high demand, and finding that next job isn't going to end you.
If you feel like leaving means you could never find another job as cush as the one you have now, then I have to ask, why are you considering leaving? My guess is that your current job kind of ... well ... it could be better.
Second, build the runway, or the bridge (in this metaphor).
Seems obvious, right? What's not obvious to you is that your first customer is the business that you're working for right now. You still want to work there right? But in a smaller role, in a part time role, where you can keep adding value but explore other opportunities.
If you're going extra spicy, frame it up like you're about to quit before rolling out the part-time idea. Chance of Success, 80%+
Other good ideas, do some cut rate work while you're still in your current job, and tell people "I'm going to charge $x when I leave but for the next 3 months I'll do work for you for .6x" Who can say no to that?
168 Hours In a Week = 50 working + 56 sleeping + [domestic responsibilities] + ... + Time to Plan Your Escape
Third, Charge What You're Worth.
For my people doing DAX and Data Modeling if you're good enough to be out on your own you should be charging around $100/hour or $700/day. Now this comes with the caveat that you're doing all the business development yourself.
I went to work at PowerPivotPro back in 2015 for less money per hour and an agreement that I wouldn't have to sell. If you're in an arrangement like that, knock 20-30% off your rate - it's worth it.
Fourth, plan to work 30 hours a week / 4 full days when you're at your busiest, 25 hours a week / 3 full days in an average week.
Many folks considering consulting take their hourly and daily rate and assume they'll be working 40+ hours. Not only is that extremely unlikely, it's not an outcome you want.
Consulting work is hard in a way that showing up at the office isn't. The expectations people have of you are higher, and every minute you're on the clock you should be delivering a lot of value. 30 hours a week of this will wear you out, plan accordingly.
Fifth, Develop the Signals AND/OR Put Skin in the Game
How does someone know that hiring you is going to deliver a solid ROI? They don't really.
You need to have some things that signal excellence. Referrals and testimonials rock. Having a blog where you write stuff people care about helps. A book is even better. Having worked at a respected place is A+.
If you're so fresh that you don't have a lot of strong signals to convey, here's a pro tip. Before sharing this let me say, this is something that I wish I had figured out years ago.
Price yourself so that you get paid if there are tangible, measurable financial results for the client. You say you're good at helping me make money? You say you're good at measuring stuff? Show me. It's hard for clients to argue with this approach.
You Probably Can't Do It
You probably can't do it. You should just keep doing what you're doing. You're not good enough. Don't quit your day job. If you're reading those words, and it kind of makes you mad, then you're ready to take some action.
Reach out to me if you're unsure what the next step looks like. I've already made the leap a few times now, and I'm here to help.