Becoming a Business Consultant – what’s it like?
An interview with Brad Regan
Becoming a Business Consultant or coach – what’s it like?
Have you ever wondered how to become a business consultant or business coach? Hear 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.
In this episode of the Should I Own A Business podcast, we interview Brad Regan, a self-employed business consultant. Brad tells us about how he became a successful consultant and gives great tips on what he would do better based on his experience. This interview is another in our Small Business Stories series.
Episode Transcript: Business Consultant
I’ve known Brad for a few years, and he’s always impressed me with his business knowledge. He certainly knows his stuff. He’s always come across to me as a down-to-earth, no-nonsense guy who doesn’t use jargon. Unfortunately, too many in our industry tend to do that.
I didn’t know anything about his background or how he came to be a business advisor or coach.
Brad has got some great thoughts on small business, some of which we discuss during the interview. In addition, he’s got some ideas for anyone who’s thinking of getting into their own business professional services business.
Can we start by looking back over your career? Where did you start?
After three years of engineering, I dropped out of university, got into sales for a division of Spicers Paper. Over the years moved into sales management and progressed into business management.
Did you have a clear vision of where you wanted to go in your career?
Not really; I think I’m a bit of a natural leader and always saw myself becoming a leader in whatever I did. But certainly no clear vision. And my motivation to succeed is always working out how to achieve x results from whatever I was doing. So I’ve always been very numbers focused, but I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as black and white. But for me, it’s always about this is what I want to achieve. And What do I need to do to get there?
We speak to many people who thought of owning their own business at some stage.
Not really, it may have been bubbling under the surface, but I certainly wasn’t conscious of it. As I got older, I appreciated having more autonomy and learned that we’re responsible for everything that happens to us. Yeah. That sounds a bit philosophical, but it lends itself to becoming a business owner.
Was there a catalyst to own a business?
No, not really not one event. In 2008 I thought I wanted to take this management thing 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 liked to have as much responsibility and autonomy as I could in my business working life. I always found that I perform best when given a challenge and left to do it rather than being micromanaged. When I did take the step four or five years ago, there were a couple of frustrations in the corporate business I was working in. I guess they pushed me over the edge. But no real one event.
At that time, you had a family and kids and a reasonably well paid corporate position. So how did you figure out what the right type of business was right for you?
I looked around for some time at different business opportunities. But after a number of discussions with my wife about what I should do, we reconciled that I’d always enjoyed helping smaller businesses perform better and grow. It dawned on me that starting a business as a business consultant or business coach to small to medium businesses made perfect sense. Yeah. It sat well with me if you like. I didn’t enjoy the corporate environment anymore.
Was your wife and family supportive of you becoming a business coach?
She trusted that I would make a success of whatever I chose to do. And she helped a lot. in the initial stages. It’s like a partnership. So I guess we’re 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 still quite quietly confident that it would work out or at least give it three or four years of 100% effort and then reassess if you like.
Did you write a business plan before you started?
Yes, is the short answer. Well, I’m glad I can say that. And not just because that the bank required me to do it. I’m a firm believer in some type of written plan for business owners, whether new businesses or existing. Yeah, I think it’s a pretty important part of success.
What do you find really rewarding about business consulting?
From my perspective, it is knowing that you have created something from nothing. And I occasionally reflect on that when there are some frustrations in business life.
But specifically with clients, seeing business owners achieving results they would never have thought possible is rewarding. And I often say, to my wife and close friends, it’s just the best job in the world. Being able to help businesses see results really quickly.
What does a day in the life of a business consultant or business coach look like?
Different things happen every day. Probably 40% of my time is spent with clients and their teams in meetings and discussions. And the other 50, or 60%, is spent in my office analysing, creating reports, thinking about strategies for the businesses that I work with. That 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 it’s largely small to medium-sized businesses, you can see results quickly, which is different when you’re working in corporate bigger businesses. So that’s, that’s rewarding.
Are there regulations you must comply with?
No, not really. In this industry, you’ll hear business consultants and coaches talk about the fact that there’s really no industry-wide qualifications. And a lot of them, I included, would love that. I mean, as far as me, self-enforced, I guess hundred per cent honesty with clients. I was described by a client some time ago as their “unreasonable friend”.
Because people don’t get you engaged to tell them what they want to hear.
Is there anything that you didn’t expect?
Uncertainty of income, being honest. There’s still that degree of uncertainty that I think many business owners deal with? After I guess four and a half years, I’ve gotten a bit more used to it now. But it was certainly a little challenging in the first couple of years to not have that almost guaranteed wage coming.
It certainly gets you out of bed, and it’s a motivator. The other challenges, just that you never really switch off thinking about your business, and certainly for what I do, probably even more so thinking that my clients business. It can sometimes feel like you’re the owner of 10 or 15. businesses. And so that’s, that’s been a bit of a challenge at times. I’m a firm believer in meditation for business owners. I certainly try to get my clients to meditate and take their mind off their business for an hour or two a week.
Would you have any advice for someone who’s thinking about becoming a business consultant or coach?
Certainly, commitment is an obvious one.
Knowing that you are doing it for the right reason, not just to say you’re a business owner.
Be prepared to get out there in your first year or two. Don’t think that you’ll pick up clients, or many clients or any, for that matter, without putting yourself out there in the first couple of years. And I mean, from both an in-person physical perspective and a digital marketing perspective.
So if you’re not prepared to do that, it’s going to be really hard for you. And even getting opportunities like this, we’re doing now when you asked me to do this, always say yes. I’d go as far as saying, say yes, to almost everything. Yeah. When you first started, at least. Because it’s all an experience, it’s all exposure for your business, and you never really know whom you might meet or connect with.
Focus on a segment
Understand who and which segment you want to work with. Rather than just having a broad idea, don’t be become too broad a business consultant or coach. I can’t recall who said it, but he was very smart and famous in the business world. He said if everyone’s your customer, no one’s your customer. So it’s really important that you understand whether it’s a sharp definition or just a broader business segment that you know you want to target and work with; I think that’s important to be specific.
Also, I did mention a business plan before, which I think is important 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. It doesn’t need to be a hundred pages long by any means. But it’ll get your mind your brain working differently.
Okay, that sounds like fantastic advice Brad. Thanks for joining us today.
Brendan Barrow and Geoff Daniel Comment
Everyone’s motivation is different
And a big takeaway for me was that business ownership wasn’t really on Brad’s radar whilst he was in his corporate job, but there were just a few frustrations that started to creep in. And then the option started to make yourself known to him. I’ve met many 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 and it reinforces that everyone’s motivations around going into business are different. Brad likes autonomy and taking responsibility for his success, which, you know, is perhaps an important trait and, and even a predictor of success.
Family and friend support
I took away a couple of other points from the chat: Brad’s wife and family supported him going out independently, which is important when you’re in a partnership, whether as a family unit or with a business partner, being on the same page is critical.
Money and relaxing
Brad also mentioned that the uncertainty of income was something that he needed to work around a budget for in the early days. And this is potentially particularly important when you’ve got a young family. And especially when you add in another of the challenges Brad identified, which was never really switching off, you can see that family support 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.
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 wellbeing and looking after yourself as a business owner as we move forward. It’s often very overlooked, but it’s so important to success. 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 in the You 360 episode, episode one that you might remember.
Okay, so that’s all for this 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 Business for chatting with us. If you’d like to get in touch with Brad, you can visit his website at www.realedge.melbourne.
The information contained in this podcast is general in nature and does not take into account your situation. The content does not constitute legal or financial advice and should not be used as such. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs and, where applicable, seek professional advice from a financial advisor or lawyer in your own jurisdiction. To find out more, please go to www.ShouldIownabusiness.com
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