The Problem with Self-Starting
The problem with starting a business on your own is you don’t know what you would know if you had somebody to guide you along the way cutting the learning curve and saving you a significant amount of time, money, and frustration. Most people are aware of what they’re lacking but don’t know how to get help. You may wonder; Do I hire a marketing agency or consultant? Do I take online courses? I’ve tried all of the above. In my experience, different phases of business require different strategies. When I was new, coaching was great to help me figure things out. Online courses also worked great, because I didn’t have very much capital. Also, the amount of information on the internet is endless, so that became a primary resource. After I started to make some traction, I was able to use some mentors who didn’t guide me towards coaching to help me get the foothold that I needed in business. Since my start, I’ve gone through numerous coaching programs and mastermind consultants. I’m still enrolled in Mastermind groups today and would be interested in consulting services. This blog post will act as a guide on how to find the help you need.
Tracing back my path to the beginning
My journey began when I first moved to Austin in January of 2015. I was finding guidance wherever I could including books, internet courses, blogs and, forums. I watched a lot of Gary Vee and discovered other motivating influencers like him. Then I found my now longtime mentor, Nick Flanagan. Nick’s office is where I created the business model for my fitness company, Infinite Fitness. His mentorship was and is a huge factor in my accomplishments. Nick helped me set my sales strategy in the direction it needed to be. He was the one who pointed me in the direction of awesome professional coaches and similar resources that were industry-specific.
After taking my mentor’s advice, I found a Mastermind group located in Indianapolis which has since then become specific to the fitness industry. This group’s knowledge and expertise reduced the learning curve for me and introduced me to systems and frameworks, such as recurring revenue models, lead management, CRM tools, and various other concepts and processes, which I previously didn’t understand the necessity of. Adapting Infinite Fitness to a recurring revenue model is something that helped protect us from the pandemic’s economic effects because we’d moved everyone to a subscription-based service rather than punch-pass or pay-as-you-go. So as long as we’re able to provide value, continue striving to derive value, and more simply keep working very hard to help our clients, then, in turn, they usually kept their subscription if they could. I then entered different Mastermind groups both industry-specific and not industry-specific. I was able to learn from the experiences of my peers in the industry-specific ones, comparing what I was doing to what they were doing and vice-versa. Exploring groups outside of my vertical helped me learn to obtain knowledge about how other industries work and then apply it to my ideas and operations. Each one of the groups I joined provided me with an individual coach or consultant. Consultation and coaching helped me with identifying the route I wanted to take by providing guidance and learning where to begin.
Evaluating your baseline
One of the first steps I would take is assessing what resources you have at your disposal and how you can allocate said resources. Do you have a revenue stream? Do you have some kind of product or service that you can bring to market? If you don’t have revenue, your options for finding a consultant are as narrow as your budget, while if you do have substantial revenue, the sky’s the limit more or less. Also, in this day in age, it is important to filter out the noise of many targeted ads on social media which may have zero credibility and are simply well-positioned by lots of money being thrown at paid ad spend. Oftentimes, the people behind these ads have never founded a business and are simply well-marketed frauds. There are also many free resources available including but not limited to peer groups, coaching, and the likes. The effort you input when looking for free resources is equal to the output you’ll get back.
So I encourage you to do your research, examining all your potential options. However, if you’re just getting your foot in the door and you have no revenue, I don’t suggest paying for expensive consultation or coaching. This may limit capital that is vital to get started. Instead, look for guidance from free resources such as books, free online courses, and people who are willing to give you advice and mentor you without expecting large sums of money in return. If you can successfully use free advice and knowledge and turn it into revenue, then I would say you have what it takes to potentially leverage the knowledge and guidance of a consultant or coach into more revenue. The reason I put so much emphasis on prioritizing revenue before overspending on tactics that you think might put you on the right track is that I’ve too often seen many early entrepreneurs, or “entrepreneurs”, spend on all the newest bells and whistles and top-tier consultants just to fail due to lack of revenue. I recommend finding a way to generate revenue first and then figure out the details after. In most of my businesses revenue has been the lifeblood and I prefer to bring in revenue first then build everything else as I’m able to ramp up. Secondly, I’d then ask yourself “where do I need help?” Self-awareness is key, evaluate whether you need someone keeping you accountable. Do you work better under someone else? Are you waiting for someone to give you the solution, without doing the problem-solving yourself? The more honest with yourself you’re the better off you’ll be. Everyone is different, I know people who have gone far without mentors, coaches, or consultants. Some haven’t even cracked a single business or strategy book and are still able to crush it. It’s important to not focus too much on others but instead work at finding what works for you.
Picking the right coach or consultant
First of all, make sure to ponder whether having someone help you reduce the learning curve is a necessity? If you determine the answer to the previous question is yes, then you need to narrow the scope on what kind of individual you’re looking for. Are you looking for somebody with relevant experience that you can take direction and apply to your endeavor? Or do you want somebody to be somewhat of a partner, who can help coach and figure things out with you? These are some of the questions that you should ask yourself in choosing which direction to go in. The question of whether you should find someone industry-specific depends on your position in your businesses’ life cycle and your personal preference. For me choosing somebody that was industry-specific in the beginning was super helpful, because I knew that they had the answers that I was looking for to expedite things. My preference when it comes to choosing a consultant or coach is finding someone who themselves has gone through the process of starting a business from the ground up.
Coaching Vs. Consulting
Normally, coaches help you come to a solution or figure something out on your own. Consultants, on the other hand, will provide you with a solution first. The benefits of both are not mutually exclusive and neither one more important than the other. It once again depends on your stage in your journey as a business owner and what your needs are. Coaching is great for being held accountable, if you’re seeking more immediate answers to business problems, consulting probably makes more sense for you. Take it from me, there’s absolutely no shame in needing to be coached. When I was getting started coaching helped me immensely but these days I tend to lean more on consulting. This being said, I’ve come to learn through my Mastermind groups that coaching is two-fold in its benefits, both in the business world and in your personal life. Being coached is more of a psychological exercise forcing you to build discipline and good habits to allow you to arrive at your conclusions and solutions. On the other side, consulting to me is analogous to a tactical briefing in a military environment, where the intel is given to you that is purely raw information at your disposal. The bottom line is you need to evaluate where you’re in your businesses’ life cycle, evaluate your needs to spur growth, and choose a consultant or coach that fits your personality.