A friend recently asked me about starting a business/ building a product as a side hustle to a full-time gig vs. consulting as the gig to reveal a business opportunity. Given his personal life, building a business as a full-time gig could be extremely risky without strong revenue upfront. The potential flexibility of consulting, however, could income, flexibility, and market insight.
I’ve had experience doing both with Body Boss and 5 Points Digital (5PD), a consulting company – as a side hustle to a full-time gig and with consulting to find the next big move.
Thoughts on pursuing consulting as the means to an end:
· Consulting is a great way to learn of problems, design solutions, network, and test market interest. Companies (startups, big corporates, etc.) serve markets with solutions at scale. Consulting is akin to a one-off solution for a singular client. Products are then extensions of solution for greater scale.
· Practice asking questions to understand situations and uncover problems. Much like entrepreneurs would do well to perform customer discovery, consultants use probing questions to learn of problems, bottlenecks, information silos, etc.
· Practice disseminating information – telling stories and detailing processes. Effective consultants can communicate effectively. Many can tell a story interweaving cause and effect. They can lead audiences through flows. Practicing case studies can help reinforce information dissemination and asking questions (previous tenet).
· Remember what you’re looking to do. Consulting can be comfortable like any other job. I suggested to my friend to take a step back periodically to synthesize lessons and their opportunities. When I started 5PD, things were easy. However, I did not find the inspiration for a new product-oriented startup. I got comfortable and locked into the tactical projects. I had to stop consulting. Pick when to leap into and out of consulting according to your grander purpose.
Consulting can be fun. It can be financially rewarding and offer flexibility. It’s also a great way to leverage experience and expand into other areas to lean into and build a marketable solution.
Start practicing and expertise will come.