Failure means a lesson has been learned. What are you going to do with your new knowledge?
JT Badiani is the founder of Focused Improvement Consulting, and his business has been built on the failures that he turned into his success. He started out as a MBA/chemical engineer with years of experience in the design field and great success in operations, but decided that his talents and passions could truly be put to use when he pursued his dream of helping companies achieve success. He has been in the consulting business for over four years, and has learned a few things along the way. You won’t want to miss JT’s take on the power of failure on this episode of the Consulting Success Podcast.
The Road to Consulting
JT Badiani works to help companies improve their bottom line through the execution of their strategy, and implementing strategies with the help of Six Sigma. He knows how to critically evaluate a program to make it more efficient and streamlined. Over the years, JT has found ways to bring his clients up to a 15X return on their investment in him as their consultant. But his road to consulting success was not a short one. He experienced tremendous growth in six years working with his sector knowledge in aerospace, engineering, and more, and even worked as the VP of a company in Toronto. He was seeking a senior leadership role with leadership, but things didn’t work out. He spent nearly 12 months looking for a company to buy, but nothing was the right fit. During this time, JT discovered small and medium sized companies that were in need of operational or execution support. Although he’s not a consultant by trade, consulting was starting to feel like the right fit.
The decision to transition into consulting is not always an easy one.
JT quickly found out that taking the leap from working for an existing company to working for yourself can be a difficult decision to make. This can be a hard decision to make for several reasons. Many consultants come into the workplace and find that, while they’re great on the theoretical side, they lack skills for implementation. JT came into consulting with the mindset of helping companies execute their strategies better, but found that people often want to take away your great ideas and implement them themselves, which means that you never get to see the fruits of your labors.
JT decided that he wanted to have a different approach to his consulting business, and now he works to be involved as much as he can from start to finish to help his clients be successful.
Overcoming the challenges of starting up a business.
Every consultant, and every entrepreneur, knows that starting up a business comes with a host of challenges. A few of these challenges can include learning all about the consulting side of sales, figuring out how to lead a service-based organization, and understanding how to sell to companies by gaining their trust quickly. In my conversation with JT, we discuss two surefire ways that you can begin to overcome the challenges that come with starting up your own consulting business.
First, get yourself known.
Networking is the key to your consulting success. As JT ventured out with his business, he reached out to his core network. He shares the ways that he was able to break into the industry, including what it takes to get up in front of people, and being willing to take risks as you are establishing yourself as an expert.
Second, surround yourself with support.
Family support can be a huge factor in the success of your consulting business. JT shared what works for him — family support meant talking through the challenges the business was facing, examining options, then making a decision and going with it.
In JT’s case, he and his wife found a rhythm to the regular conversations that was established in the startup phase of his consulting business. His wife came from an entrepreneurial background, he has an MBA, and they brought their skills and knowledge together to create a plan that worked. Surrounding yourself with people that will support your work efforts is an essential piece of the puzzle, and you’ll want to hear some of the tips that JT shares on the types of conversations that he and his wife have to make sure that they are on the same page with the business efforts.
Keeping your mindset strong when it gets hard.
Business may be good, and you might be growing quickly, but the reality of most growing consulting businesses is that there are hard days, setbacks, and proposals that you want but don’t win. How do you keep your mindset strong so you can keep growing your business?
Recognize that it’s tough, but keep looking forward.
JT shares a powerful story of four high-value proposals that he lost. Over the course of an especially difficult week, he didn’t win one proposal after another. By the time the fourth proposal came back — which he didn’t really even want — JT was feeling pretty discouraged about what he was doing, and why he was doing it. He and I had a conversation not long afterward, and he followed my advice — it is tough, you are going to have losses, but keep looking forward and reflect back on why you didn’t win your proposals.
Connect with clients for feedback.
Ask why you didn’t win the proposal, listen to their advice and then apply it. Be insightful, and restructure presentations so people can gain the insights of your value. Leverage your network so that you have the right references, trust is established with potential clients, and they feel more comfortable with what you do and how you do it.
Every entrepreneur encounters this kind of failure — today may be a bad day, but there is always a better day to come. “Rather than calling it a failure, just call it a lesson.” You will become stronger as you face these failures and turn them into lessons learned. Successful people keep taking steps forward, and continue reaping rewards from that lesson learned. That is another key to your consulting success.
Set realistic goals.
You can have success and you can plan to have 100%, but there will be weeks and months that you just won’t get to 100%. If you hit 80%, you’re doing great. If you hit 50%, then it’s time to find a way to get to 80%.
Always continue learning.
It’s essential that you self-reflect and always look both at what you’re doing right and what you can improve on.
JT calls himself a horrible golfer. He decided that he wanted to improve, so he would play a round of golf, then go home and reflect on what went right and wrong. He read up on ways to improve his game, and his scores dropped significantly. Suddenly he was doing really well.
JT has taken that mentality into his business and career — if things are getting him down, he has found ways to ground himself. Finding a piece of literature or an online video or ebook that can help remind you of the things that are most important and how you can improve. He shares several books that are listed below, and also references some of the articles from the Consulting Success website that have helped him stay focused, including how to write a proposal, and how to talk to your clients. Success will come as you continue to sharpen the craft. Don’t stay stagnant, and don’t get complacent with your work.
Growing Your Business, Even without a Network
Having a network in place brings great value to your business, but you can still make connections and land clients even without the help of a network. JT has three solid ideas to help you get started.
Understand the value that you have to offer clients.
You need to know exactly what it is that you have to offer your clients, and then you have to deliver it. If you don’t deliver, you will not get more business. The client that you’re serving right now is your number one client, so your focus needs to remain on them. If you’re chasing after more business, you are not helping your client be successful. Stay dedicated to each client as you are working with them, and the value of your work, as well as your value to your client, will both increase.
Second, you have to get yourself out there.
There are multiple ways that you can develop your network while your business is growing. If you are willing to attend conferences, participate in small groups, and deliver good content, you will get leads and and you will be successful.
Don’t worry about giving away your content.
Many consultants have been advised to develop their content and then keep it secret until a client is paying for it. You should not worry about giving it away. Clients that want to improve their businesses themselves will figure out a way to get it done themselves, and you don’t need to spend anymore time with them. By sharing a good picture of your content, you are building trust with your clients, and this will win you projects.
It’s okay to be selective about your work.
Don’t rush to accept every project that comes along. Instead, as business opportunities come, ask yourself if each client is the type of company that you want to be working with. Examine their values and see if they lineup with yours — are they trustworthy? Do they provide the opportunity for you to grow? Will they actually listen to what you have to say because they are seeking advice? Are they looking for help? And most importantly, can you deliver value?
That is the single most important question you need to ask yourself — can you deliver value to this company by taking on their project? If the answer is no, then you need to ask yourself why you are doing this.
Do a litmus test with each opportunity that comes your way — see how your values line up, and then move forward from there. After you’ve had a series of conversations and opportunities to determine if the work is a good fit, you can make your decision and move forward accordingly, and with no regrets about your decision.
JT has found that these tips are key to finding satisfaction in seeing companies be successful. He has helped his clients realize $30 to $40 million savings through projects, coaching, and events. It’s what drives him toward success, and today he’s enjoying the benefits of finding consulting success. Be sure to listen to the many insights that JT shares on how to turn today’s failures into tomorrow’s success on this episode of Consulting Success Podcast.
[4:10] Why the decision to transition into consulting isn’t always an easy one.
[5:09] Challenges will come when starting up your consulting business, but here’s why that’s okay.
[8:35] How can you keep your success-oriented mindset strong when things get tough.
[12:50] Two solid lessons you can learn from failure.
[15:30] How you can grow your business, even without a network.
[19:30] What drives JT toward success?
[22:13] How you can connect with JT Badiani.
Mentioned in This Episode:
Consulting Success Blog
The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement, by Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox
The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses, by Eric Ries
Tweetables:“Always keep looking forward.” — JT Badiani
“All successful people just keep taking steps forward.” — Michael Zipursky
“Rather than calling it a failure, just call it a lesson learned.” — Michael Zipursky