Becoming a Business Consultant – what’s it like?
An interview with Brad Regan
Becoming a Business Consultant – what’s it like?
Have you ever wondered how to become a business consultant? Or what it is like to leave your corporate job to start your own business as a coach?
Well, one man who has done it successfully is Brad Regan. I recently caught up with Brad for a chat about life as a business coach.
I’ve known Brad for a few years. And he’s always impressed me with his business knowledge.
But he’s always come across to me as being a down to earth, no-nonsense sort of guy who, you know, who doesn’t talk in riddles or use a lot of jargon.
And as we know very well, many in our industry tend to do that. So even though I’ve known Brad for a while, I didn’t really know his background or, how he became a business consultant or coach.
As you might expect, Brad has some great thoughts on small business, some of which we chat a bit during the interview.
But I also think he’s got some ideas for anyone who’s thinking of getting into their own business, particularly getting into some form of professional services business.
So that’s it for me.
I hope you enjoy my chat with Brad Regan.
Interview about becoming a business consultant with Brad Regan
On the show today, I’m joined by Brad Regan, who is a business consultant and also runs an education group for business owners in Melbourne.
Welcome to the Should I Own A Business podcast.
Perhaps we can start by having a look back over your career.
Where did you start your career?
Well, I dropped out of university after three years of engineering. I got into us into sales for a division of Spicers Paper, and just went from there. I moved into sales management and slowly moved further into business management.
Did you have a clear vision of perhaps where your career or where you wanted to go in your career?
Not really. I think I’m probably a bit of a natural leader. So I always saw myself becoming a leader in whatever I did, but indeed no clear vision.
I always just looked at the current challenge at hand. And my motivation to succeed is still about working out how to achieve x results from whatever I was doing.
I’ve always been very numbers focused. I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as black and white. But for me, it’s still about this is what I want to achieve. What do I need to do and learn to get there?
Okay, were you one of those people that the thought of owning your own business at some stage?
Not really, I it may have been bubbling under the surface, but I certainly wasn’t conscious of it. As I got older, I started to appreciate more autonomy and gradually learned that we’re responsible for everything that happens to us. Which sounds a bit philosophical but that mentality lends itself to becoming a business owner.
What was the catalyst to become a business consultant?
So was there a particular catalyst? Was there something that happened or, a change that brought up the idea of going into something on your own?
No, not really one event. In 2008 I wanted to take my management career a little bit further. So I did an MBA at Latrobe University, which was a fantastic grounding for becoming a business owner.
Looking back now, I still didn’t have any burning urge to become a business owner. But I always did like to have as much responsibility and autonomy as I could in my business working life. I always found that I performed best when given a challenge, and I was left do it rather than being micromanaged.
But no there wasn’t one big event. When I did take the step four or five years ago, there were a couple of frustrations working in the “corporate” environment. I guess they pushed me over the edge.
At that time, I suppose you perhaps had a family and kids on the scene with responsibilities.
A young family, and certainly having young kids get you out of bed and gets you focused each day.
Choosing the right business for you
So you were, I assume, in a reasonably well paid corporate position.
So how did you figure out what the right type of business was? If you’re motivated to start looking at going into business, they’re a lot of options out. What helped point you in the right direction?
I certainly did look around for some time at different business opportunities, and I had several discussions with my wife about what I should be doing.
We reconciled that I’d always really enjoyed, helping those smaller businesses perform better and grow. It dawned on me that starting a business as a business consultant, slash business coach, to the small to medium sector made perfect sense.
It just sat well with me. And I didn’t enjoy the corporate environment back then, and as time went on, I enjoyed it less. I enjoy dealing with a privately owned small to medium businesses and helping them.
And your wife and family were supportive of that? Because I know I’ve spoken to people where one party wants to go one direction, the other in a different direction.
I think she was. I haven’t spoken to my wife about it much since it all took place. But I think she trusted that I would make a success, of whatever I chose to do. I hope she did. And she helped a lot in the initial stages. It’s like a partnership so we were both determined to make it work. So was it was still a very much a hold your breath and, and jump type situation. We were quietly confident that it would work out or at least, give it three or four years of 100% effort and then reassess it.
Okay a tricky question given the industry you’re in now, but did you write a business plan before you started?
Yes. I’m glad I can say that. And not just because the bank required me to do it at the time. Any business bank loans you apply for need a business plan. But I’m a firm believer in some type of written plan for business owners, whether a new or existing business. I think it’s a pretty important part of success.
What do you find rewarding about being a business consultant?
I agree with you there, Brad. You mentioned this is four or five years ago that you started. So looking back over that period, for people who are thinking of going professional services self-employment, is there anything that stands out as being rewarding?
Probably knowing that you’ve, I have created something from nothing, that’s rewarding. I occasionally reflect on that when there are some frustrations in the business life -that I’ve created this, which is really rewarding.
But specifically with clients, just seeing business owners achieving results, they never would have not thought possible is really rewarding.
And I say often, to my wife and close friends, most of the time, it’s just the best job in the world. Being able to help these businesses see results quickly. And now and then, there are some frustrations, but most of the time, it’s more rewarding than any other job I’ve done before.
Your typical day as a business consultant
There may not be an answer to this question. But is there a typical day in the life of a business consultant or business coach?
Not a typical day. And most business owners would probably agree with that. Different things happen every day, exciting stuff like talking to you.
Probably 40% of my time is with clients and their teams in meetings and discussions. And the other 50, or 60%, is spent in my office analyzing things, creating reports, thinking about growth strategies for businesses that I work with, which might seem a little bit boring.
Sounds boring, as I’m saying it. But I do deal with a diverse range of businesses which makes it interesting. And because they are small to medium-sized companies, you can see results quickly. Which is a bit different when you’re working in corporate more significant enterprises. So that’s, that’s rewarding.
I know, in some professional occupations, there’s a lot of regulations and things to comply with it. Was that what you found in the business coaching or consulting sort of world?
No, not really. And in this industry, you’ll hear business consultants and coaches talk about the fact that there’s no industry-wide qualifications. And a lot of them, I included, would love there to be some, so no regulations. I have self-enforced standards, such as a hundred per cent honesty with my clients. I was described by a client some time ago as their unreasonable friend.
Keeping everyone honest? Yeah.
People don’t engage you to tell them what they want to hear. A lot of the time just honesty, obviously, Australian accounting laws, and, and confidentiality laws as well.
Challenges You did not expect
So thinking back over that past four to five years now. Is there anything cropped up in terms of challenges that you didn’t expect?
The uncertainty of income if I am candid. And even when it’s not necessarily a rational worry or concern that you should have most of the time, there’s still that degree of uncertainty that I think a lot of business owners big and small deal with? After four and a half years, and I’ve gotten more used to it now. But it was indeed a little challenging in the first couple of years, just to not have that almost guaranteed wage coming.
But once again, it certainly gets you out of bed and gets you out there; it’s a motivator. Probably the other challenges, just that you never really switch off thinking about your business, and indeed for what I do, even more so considering my clients business, etc.
It can sometimes feel like you’re the owner of 10 or 15 firms. So, switching off is challenging.
All business owners would know about that. Almost 24 seven, you’re thinking about the business and, what else you can do. And so that’s a bit of a challenge at times.
I believe in meditation, for business owners, and I certainly adhere to that as much as I can. I try to get my clients to think about some form of meditation, even if it’s just an activity, where they can take their mind off their business for an hour or two hours a week.
What tips would you give to someone thinking of becoming a business coach?
So would you have any advice for someone who’s perhaps an accountant or a lawyer or one of those professions in a corporate setting at the moment; Who is thinking about jumping ship and starting their own practice?
Commitment is an obvious one, knowing that you are doing it for the right reason. Not just so that you can say that you’re a business owner or that you’ve given it a try. Be prepared to get out there in your first year or two. Don’t think that, that in the first couple of years that you’ll pick up a lot of clients, or any for that matter, without putting yourself out there.
I mean, from both a physical perspective and a digital marketing perspective. Just getting out there as much as you can, in every form, is an excellent way of starting. So if you’re not prepared to do that, it’s going to be hard for you. And even getting opportunities like this, like we’re doing now, always say yes.
I’d go as far as, say yes, to almost everything, when you first started at least. It’s all experience, it’s all exposure for your business, and you never know who you might meet or connect with. So certainly be prepared to get out there.
And specifically for professional services understand who and which segment you want to work with. Rather than just having a broad idea to become a legal business or accounting business or business consulting coaching, understand who you want to deal with; as a customer segment, don’t try to be everything to everyone.
I can’t recall who said it, but it was someone brilliant and famous in the business world. He said if everyone’s your customer, no one’s your customer. So it’s essential that you understand whether it’s a sharp niche or just a broader business segment, that you know, who to target and work with. I think that’s important to be specific.
And also, I did mention a business plan before, which I think is essential for a myriad of reasons. And you can make a whole conversation on that really at some stage. But one of the ones that I go through with clients is that it’ll open your mind up to pick up opportunities and ideas that you would otherwise miss in your business world. So doing a plan and I use an analogy of when you go to test drive a car. You test drive the car, take it back to the car yard and the next few days all you see on the roads are those cars.
Have just experienced that myself.
There you go. And you wouldn’t have seen them before you test drive it. So doing a good business plan which doesn’t need to be a hundred pages long by any means. But it’ll get your brain working differently. So you’ll pick up opportunities that you would have otherwise, missed if you like.
That sounds like fantastic advice to me. Brad. Thanks for joining us today.
Thank you, Geoff.
Give yourself the best chance of success by understanding what on running a business is really like you’re listening to the Should I Own A Business podcast? Listen, before you leave.
What can we learn from Brad Regan’s interview
Well, that was a very enlightening discussion, Geoff.
And I think he had some, exciting thoughts about his journey to date. But you know, also some great ideas for anyone thinking of going into their own, professional services business, or I guess, indeed, any business.
The tipping point
A big takeaway for me was that business ownership wasn’t really on Brad’s radar while he was in his corporate job, but there was just a few frustration started to creep in. And then the option began to make itself known to him. I’ve met a lot of people who are very similar to this, where owning your business has not been a burning desire, as it was for some others. But it seems to come to a tipping point where the possibility presents itself, and then they liked the idea.
Yeah, I’m the same, Brendan, I guess, sort of reinforces the concepts we’ve discussed on on earlier episodes of the show, in that everyone’s motivations around going into business are different. And they’re, you know, really personal to them. Interesting that He also mentioned, that he likes autonomy and taking responsibility for his success, which is perhaps an important trait and, and even a predictor of success.
A couple of other points I took away from the chat was that Brad’s wife and family were supportive of him going out on his own, which is important. Whether as a family unit or with a business partner, you all need to be on the same page. I think Brad also mentioned the uncertainty of income was something that he needed to work around and budget for in the early days. And this is potentially particularly important when you’ve got a young family.
24 x 7
And especially when you add in another of the challenges Brad identified, which was this concept of never really switching off, you can see that family support is is just critical in that area. You know, I suffered terribly from that, that sort of 24 seven nature of running a business. And I know that it did have an impact on my family at times, as I’ve discussed on some previous episodes,
Yes, definitely. I’ve been there. And I remember it affecting us on things like holidays and weekends. Interesting that Brad also mentioned that he meditates and that he was suggesting that to clients as well. So we’re going to speak a lot more about this concept of well being and looking after yourself as a business owner as we move forward.
It’s often very overlooked, but it’s so important. And if you’re going to make a success of your business, you’ve got to be able to look after yourself.
So we list Wellbeing and wellness as the first item on the You 360 episode, episode two that you might remember. That’s right, it’s imperative, as you say, often overlooked.
Okay, so that’s all for today’s episode, and we hope it’s helped you get some more clarity around whether business ownership is for you or not. And we’d like to thank Brad Regan from Real Edge in Business for having a chat with us. If you’d like to get in touch with Brad, you can visit his website at www.realedge.melbourne.
In the next show will be discussing the critical business knowledge and skills you’ll need to consider when deciding where the business ownership is right for you. Thanks for listening and bye for now.
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