Tell us a little about yourself and your work.I am the head/only honcho at The Uncaged Life where I work with clients from all over the world who want to have the freedom of working from anywhere by running their own online business (ie THE DREAM!). I work mostly with service-based entrepreneurs (think life coaches, nutritionists, consultants, etc), and I help them get clear about what the hell their business IS (they tend to be big thinkers who get stuck in their heads and need help getting out of the gates with their ideas). I also run an online community of thousands of entrepreneurs who come together to support each other. I started my business while living in a van on a rock climbing trip, so that's always a fun fact.
Why did you decide to become a business advisor?I graduated from nutrition school and saw so many people struggling to figure out what to do next. They all had these amazing skills, but had no idea what to do with them. Many people in my class dreamed of starting their own business, but had no idea how (most training programs teach you the skills you need to master your craft, but teach NOTHING about the business side). And most people I know feel trapped by how they were taught to do things in their industry and are terrified of breaking the mould. So there were all these amazing people out there with amazing skills, struggling to find jobs. And I knew there was a better way - a way that would let people do the work they love AND be able to do it their own way.
So I set out to help them do just that - to create their own jobs and never have to worry about resumes or dickhead bosses again.
How does someone become a business advisor?First start your own business. Then get successful. And then teach other people how you became successful. Many business coaches I know are self taught. They developed their own successful business, learned the ropes, and then set out to help other people do the same. You can't be a struggling business owner but tell other people you're going to advise them - that just doesn't work and no one will trust you.
Depending on what kind of businesses you want to consult, it's helpful to have experience in that particular field. I work with online businesses, and while I certainly could advise brick and mortar business too, I prefer to stay within my area of expertise. Choose a niche and an area of expertise. It will help you a lot with your marketing.
Having a marketing or business background from a college or university can help, but it's definitely not necessary. You can also take skills you have form your corporate career and go solo with them. Are you a rockstar at negotiations? Or sales? If you have a tangible skill that business owners need, you can develop your business around that expertise.
To get your first clients, simply ask people if you can help them. Getting experience is key, and it's always easiest to start with people know already know. if you have friends or colleagues who are starting businesses or who need help, reach out and offer your services. It will help you build your experience and figure out what kind of help people need - which will be key to helping you develop your services.
And definitely make a website. Right away. The sooner you start getting your name out there the sooner people will stat finding you and hiring you.
What is the pay like?Depending on who your target audience is, business consultants charge anywhere from $100-$1000/hour (and up). Consulting Fortune 500 companies will be a much different pay rate than consulting new independent businesses just getting started. I rarely advise consultants to charge hourly though. Creating specific, targeted programs and packages, offering group programs and workshops, and even developing online courses, will help clients get more bang for their buck and will help you scale your work so you're not just trading time for dollars.
What are the best parts of being a business advisor?Selfishly, the best part is that you are your own boss, so you can give yourself raises, take time off, hire a team, and basically run your business however you want. You can work in person face to face or online or run workshops and events or stay at home behind your computer with no pants on, because you make all the rules.
But beyond all the selfish reasons (and the no pants wearing), you get to play a part in helping other people build their dream businesses. Which is pretty fucking awesome. Seeing the results of your work with a client and seeing THEM grow in their business is one of the most rewarding things ever.
What are the biggest challenges in being a business advisor?One of the best things is also one of the biggest challenges - you are your own boss. Which means you are responsible for EVERYTHING. Most people are used to going to work, having someone tell them what they need to do, and not having to worry too much about work after hours. When you run your own business you are on ALL THE TIME. The work never goes away and it's up to you to manage it all. It can be overwhelming.
The other challenging thing is working with clients who you KNOW can succeed in their business, but who aren't willing to put in the work it requires. You can advise them all you want, but at the end of the day they need to do the work to make it happen. It sucks when they don't follow through and therefore don't succeed, because it reflects poorly on YOU, even though it has nothing to do with you. You definitely need to develop a thick skin to do this work and can't take on the problems of the whole world, or you'll go crazy!
Best advice you've ever received?Invest in your business. If you're just starting out it can be scary to put money into your business, but if you have a shitty website and your business looks and feels like a child's lemonade stand business, no one will take you seriously. Ditto for investing in learning any skills you don't have. The money you spend on your business will always come back to you, and you will grow much faster if you take your business seriously from the start.
Any helpful resources or links on this topic.?Well, my community is a great starting point to meet other entrepreneurs. Fizzle is also a great resource for learning about online business so you can rock your consulting business online too. A college marketing course could be helpful if you need to learn basic marketing skills.
There are so many moving parts to being a consultant - you need to learn marketing, and sales, and online business, and negotiations, and social media and on and on and on.
Doing the actual consulting is the easy part :)