I've been researching consulting companies for small businesses now for quite awhile. When I decided to close my retail business, consulting with other people on their businesses was a natural direction that I was drawn to. I discussed the prospect with some highly respected business people such as Nancy Beth Guptill of Sweet Spot Marketing and Tera Hill of Barnies Inc. These wonderful business women along with a handful of others that I ran the idea by, were very encouraging. Ultimately though I just didn't feel.... well, um... old enough to be a consultant!
Jumping ahead about a year and I'm working for one of Canada's top employers, and all I can see is holes in their company... HR holes - like saying you want to hear what your employees think, but flying right to defensive when something is brought up, Quality issues, if your QA team is spelling staff members names wrong, that might be a problem, and staffing issues - if you promise the moon and then hand over 10hr monotonous shifts where your bathroom breaks are timed and result in your hole "team" loosing the monthly contest of, who can hold their bladders the longer? Please don't be surprised when people leave!
Then I got the opportunity to work with an amazing company, Barnies Inc. The owner of this company is so inspiring, so driven that I agreed immediately to work with her, even though I am still employed full time with the toilet watchers. Working with Tera has made me realize that I am ready, my suggestions are unique and helpful and worth something, and maybe you don't have to be approaching 50 to give other people suggestions on their small businesses, in fact - maybe it's better if your more along the lines of approaching 30 with 10 years of Small business ownership under your belt.
So then comes the market research and that's what really sealed the deal for me. The complete lack of new age, small business consultants. They do not exist. I actually knew this from certain points in my own career where we were on a path that was leading to an obvious fork in the road. I would have jumped at the opportunity to meet with someone that had been down said path, or a similar one to get their objective opinion. Which would have been a snap if I had about $1000 laying around. But hello, I'm wasn't a mega corporation, or the government, I was a small company with a consulting budget of about $75 - and there was no one there for me to talk to.
In his book Outliers, Malcom Gladwell says that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in your field. 10,000 hours translates into roughly - 10 years. So that's it, I've arrived... I am officially and expert. But in what you might ask? Sorry to say I guess you'll have to wait for me to figure that out...