What I learnt in 2015?
The year is racing to an end, and before we know it, we will be into 2016. Since this is the time for reflections, what did I really learn in 2015? For the first time in my life, I’ve not been part of a gigantic corporate machine. What did I learn in the world of building a new business? I’ve categorized this into 3 separate areas – Business, Technical and Personal Mastery. Business Mastery is learning about the business you are in. Technical Mastery is the technical skills to do your job. Finally, Personal Mastery is about the softer skills that are needed as you work with other people and companies.
Building your consulting business is fun, challenging, and scary all at the same time.
I started off with a lot of great ideas. Ideas that I felt were worth a billion dollars. Yet, I quickly realized that ideas are a dime a dozen. Executing one idea is critical. That’s the real challenge.
It’s easy to conceptualize and build many features into a solution, even if it’s a service, however, the activity system that comes along with all those features requires significant time and attention. Leveraging the business model canvas is a simple and easy way to tease out each idea and its corresponding activity systems.
Corporate learning’s on launching new products had taught me to focus on building awareness and trial. And that would lead to repeat rates. The principles are similar for a professional services firm; however, the awareness-building model is unique. Support from some great friends provided outstanding referrals that translated to initial trial. However, it’s an equally hard challenge to build repeat.
Net, I guess I learnt that designing your business model is so critical for success alongside the quality of the idea or concept. The concept may be strong, the value proposition may also be equally strong, but it really comes down to the clarity of the business model that determines the quality of execution in the market followed by your engagement model with potential clients.
When one works in a corporate role, one becomes a specialist in the functional area of interest. We invest a lot of time learning all the tools and techniques that help us to become successful in our roles.
When you are building your own company, besides the core competency, there are a lot more areas of knowledge that are needed that your specific functional expertise. In my case, I had to quickly learn about legal documentation, business insurance, website design, finance and accounting, business development to name a few. Early on, each of these areas requires sufficient knowledge to help you get started. Sure, there are companies that can support in each of these areas – if you can afford it initially.
The other area that I’m applying from my corporate world is to really think through the vision and values for my company. I’ve probably gone through a few iterations on what’s truly important for the business.
Finally, how much did I invest in my own skill set development? Specifically, did I invest in developing my leadership skills, or collaboration skills etc.? For any new business, agility is critical for success or, being able to manage cash flow. Being able to pivot if something isn’t working is crucial for survival and long term success.
I also invested a lot of time with a group of friends and family who have been great sounding boards. I like calling them my quasi-Board of Directors. Their perspective, knowledge and expertise have probably saved me from making some really bad decisions. I guess through it all, listening to everyone, from my 8- year old son to a cold call client is critical. I like to call this as listening to what the universe is telling you. I’m eternally grateful to everyone who has supported me through thick and thin in this journey.
These reflections, I hope, will help me to continue to build the business in 2016. So, the journey continues.
What did you learn in 2015?