Today’s post — I’m taking today and tomorrow off. Well, mostly.
Be sure to take time off for yourself, too.
- Consultants want to bring too much structure to an agile environment. For most consulting entrepreneurs, strategy consulting is where the fun is – it’s like being a part of the vision of the startup. Many see opportunities to bring their experience from big brands and apply “best practices” to startups. This could mean big strategy sessions, long timelines, and structured deliverables. However, for startups, especially early-stage companies, heavy structure won’t last simply because the company is still learning and iterating too fast.
- Startups want to hire you for X, but they really mean X… + Y + Z. With time and budget constraints, startup employees wear multiple hats. Same applies for consultants to a degree – consultants should be capable of having a comprehensive skill set within a functional area (marketing, sales, design). For example, if you’re a marketing consultant, know communication, social media, and website. Some graphics chops will do you good, too. For design, be able to design + code + CSS.
- The day the startup says they need help, they actually needed you a while ago. Startups work real fast, and employees are swamped managing what’s in front of them. So when issues start to arise, not much happens until it reaches a critical point. As a consultant, this means you are needed TODAY. Startups have investors to appease. We have to quadruple the current pipeline. We need to launch, learn, and iterate as fast as able.
- I’d be silly if I still didn’t say, “money”. This is a given, but it’s surprising this is still a shock to many consultants. They believe they can charge the same rate they do with larger enterprises. That may be your “market rate” with enterprises, but realize that your target customers (startups) is a different market. Thus, your real market rate is quite different.
These are challenges/ realizations. However, challenges straddle the “opportunities line”. I made a good living before as a consultant to startups, and I loved the energy of my clients and seeing my actions make a difference almost daily. There’s a give and take, but that’s why you work with startups. It’s not all about the money. It’s about the challenge, the opportunity, the learning.
- “Advise A Startup”. I love speaking to startups, entrepreneurs, and wantrepreneurs. Networking is great, but hearing the problems others are solving and how is highly educational. As John also said, teaching others is a great way to amplify and accelerate learning.
- “Don’t Throw Up, Speak Up”. I grew up as an introvert, but realizing what I wanted to achieve, I wanted to be more extroverted. So, I hacked my personality for years and got comfortable doing uncomfortable things (i.e. giving presentations as often as possible, meeting others by simply starting with “hi”, etc. It starts with deliberate, small actions. Overtime, it gets easier – not totally comfortable, but you develop a strength to be successful at it.
- “Entrepreneur It”. Entrepreneurship really builds on my past life as a consultant (looking for problems, finding solutions, and implementing solutions). I do this often in everyday life including random interviews of flight attendants during flights or door-to-door surveys at local restaurants. There are problems everywhere, and you can exercise that creative, problem-solving muscle everywhere, too.
Find ways to practice entrepreneurship with a purpose. Take small, deliberate actions consistently. You’ll be amazed how opportunities start to flow. Then, take the leap.
- Read books! I used to hate reading growing up – the books did not interest me. Meanwhile at Body Boss, I wore so many hats that I focused on short online articles so I could maintain breadth of learning. Now that I’m doubling down on sales and marketing (growth), I am seeking depth in my self-education by reading specialized books (reading The Challenger Sale now).
- Seek mentors, coaches. I’m a big connector/ networker, so it’s curious why I didn’t reach out earlier for help and guidance. Perhaps I was too cocky to seek help before. Four years into this startup life, I’m wiser knowing there are plenty of people who know more than me and can help. I have mentors guiding me – talking entrepreneurship and other facets of life that influence my vision and goals. I’ve also actively sought out coaches – experts in specific areas who can guide me.
Startups and entrepreneurship have ignited a deeper hunger to learn. I’m definitely not a know-it-all. Instead, I’ve become a learn-it-all. Well, learn with specificity.
rate at which a business model captures monetizable value from its users
- Created value > captured value. That is, the value a customer receives is greater than the value the company receives (the customer pays).
- Captured value ≥ cost (delivering solution). This is simplistically understanding revenue is greater than (or equal to) cost.
- Created value ≥≥ cost.
This is a pretty simple to understand. For companies looking for investment (well, any company looking to be successful), it’s important to understand traction and all the drivers thereof. As an early-stage startup wiggles and fights its way towards product-market fit (or service-market fit), traction will likely be near-flat. But as the company reaches product-market fit, that traction curve starts to climb fast. Here, focus turns towards customer acquisition, and thus, the sales and marketing machine commences.
- How Exercise Shapes You, Far Beyond the Gym – about how enduring challenges in the gym shapes how we challenge ourselves (and find fulfillment) beyond
- Resilience Is About How You Recharge, Not How You Endure – taking time offline and unplugged
- The Happy Secret to Better Work – Ted talk with the key message for me about taking time out from work and disconnecting. Meditation being one way