The last year and a half has been one of the immense transitions and has left many of us asking if we’re in the right place and if what we’re doing is worthy of our time and energy. For those of you who may be asking yourself if there is more you can do or additional ways you can help, I encourage you to consider whether it’s time to make the leap to consulting. I’ve had the privilege of owning my own agency for more than two decades and have been asked several times how to make the transition from employee to agency owner. Below are a few of the tips I’ve gleaned from my own experience and the successful entrepreneurs from which I’ve been able to work and learn.
I get this question often. Many people want to know when I knew it was time to go out on my own and how I began. I was fortunate enough to have a mentor who helped get me started but will say that there is an inner calling in most consultants I know. Some speak of it as an intense desire to help the industry, some speak of it as outgrowing their current circumstance and needing a challenge, and others say it was born out of a need for the next step. But every single story has one thing in common – successful entrepreneurs have something burning within them – gnawing at them – that won’t go away. Whether it’s an idea, a new way of handling a current situation, or for me, a desire to control your own destiny and be the person in charge of your interactions. Do you have an idea that won’t go away? A feeling that propels you to act, even if it’s scary? If so, it may be time to go out on your own.
Once you decide to make the leap, it is time to network, network, network. Reach out to current and past colleagues, let previous business partners know that you have begun your own company and post as often as possible on LinkedIn. When reaching out on social media, ensure you are giving value through advice and offering to connect people, versus just asking if the people in your network need your services. As Sandy Zannino, Founder of Innovative Auto HR has wisely stated about starting, “I should have started networking sooner. Begin before you’re ready.”
I have long been a huge fan of the idea of time boxing. Time boxing is setting aside chunks of time to accomplish specific goals. When I first began my PR firm, I would literally sit at my desk during the time I had set aside for working, even if I didn’t have the client work. Instead, I would focus on my website or branding. Anything to set me in the mindset that the time I had set aside was for building my business. Today I am fortunate enough to say I no longer have that problem, but I do keep the time boxing methods to ensure I stay productive and don’t lose my momentum to meetings, phone calls and social media.
Owning your own agency is not for the faint of heart. It takes patience, joy in risk and a strong amount of grit. Many of the most successful firm owners I know have fallen in some way. But more importantly, they’ve gotten themselves up and found a new way to go after what they want and continue their calling.
Is this the year you heed the call and make the leap to owning your own consultancy? Is an idea or concept calling to you at a louder and louder pitch? Do you have the grit to keep it front and center? I’m betting on you and hoping that the answer will be yes!
Laurie Halter is the Founder of Charisma! Communications, a successful automotive PR firm, and host of the Carearing podcast where she explores work/life balance issues for leading females. She has a passion for business and entrepreneurship, but what really gets her jumping out of bed in the morning is sharing her experience balancing life, work, and motherhood.
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