Remember when you were a kid and you went back to school and you talked about what you did on your summer vacation? You went to camp or on a family vacation or you learned to swim. Later you got a job and you maybe went to summer school to get a head start on a class or upgrade your marks.
I never went to summer school. Until this year.
That’s right. At the ripe old age of 29 (ahem) I spent this summer in school. But not the way you think.
Getting “Skooled” (as the kids say)
Urbandictionary.com says that getting “skooled” is when someone or something beats you in an embarrassing way, and you are therefore taught a hard lesson and people mock you because you should have known better.
I actually enjoyed learning what I did. It was a real eye-opening time for me, and one that made me even more excited about my newly chosen career. So, I’ll say that this summer I was “schooled”, not “skooled” in the art of being an entrepreneur and growing your business.
You can do all the right things like write a clear business plan, develop a strategic plan, map out a contact and sales strategy, develop an online presence and start networking activities. But all those things that you know from business school and years of corporate experience will never compensate for just getting out there and “doing”. Click to Tweet
Three Things I Didn’t Expect to Learn
Contrary to popular opinion, I don’t know everything. (I can hear my friends and colleagues laughing.) There are things that I expected: bumps in the road, the need for patience and flexibility, getting to know different organizational cultures, and administrative annoyances.
There are also a few things that I didn’t expect, and learning these things this summer will make the next few months SO much easier and more productive:
- Partnering is important. I thought that Whiteboard Consulting Group Inc would be out there doing our own thing in our own way with our own clients. I suppose we could, but that wouldn’t be nearly as effective as partnering with other people in a similar business with a unique offering. It opens up many more opportunities for proposals and networking when you have a “virtual partner network” that you can call on.
- eMailing (or snail-mailing) a proposal is not ideal. I thought it was great to send everything ahead of time and show how prepared we were. Sadly, I was mistaken. There are times when you have no choice (eg when responding to an online RFP). But whenever you can you should present the proposal in person. Sending it via eMail poses the risk of misunderstanding, missing the point, or the worst – sticker shock. If you have to send something in advance, hold back the pricing and discuss that in person.
- It’s ok to ask for a budget. Perhaps it’s my upbringing and Canadian “politeness” factor, but I am very uncomfortable discussing money. I have learned to get over that. If you can discuss a budget, you can’t prepare a proposal that will meet the client’s needs. The trick is to discuss it in such as way that the client doesn’t feel you just want to know the budget ceiling so you can charge that amount. On the contrary – it’s needed so that you can tailor your approach to maximize value to the client.
I’m pretty sure that this business is a constant classroom, and I look forward to when I really do know everything. In the meantime, what are things that you’ve learned in the consulting business? I’d love to hear about them – eMail us at email@example.com/staging or tweet us @whiteboardcons using #betterfastercheaper.
Until next time,