I Started my own Consulting Business and Turned a Job Loss into an Opportunity
Do you want to learn how to start your own business? Here is how Adina Collins from Dallas, United States started her own Tax consultancy after her job ended abruptly.
In this article, Adina shares the exact strategies she used to start her own consultancy.
Prior to starting her own venture, Adina was working full time for 22 years! An unexpected end to a project, made her take the jump and start her own.
Presently, she provides customized year-round tax planning strategies to sole proprietors, LLCs, PLCs, and corporations. In addition, she also provides critical business advisory to solopreneurs and businesses to increase their profitability.
Adina is an MBA from Tulane University and is also pursuing CPA from AICPA.
Why Did I Start My Own Consultancy
I previously worked for 22 years full-time in various accounting and finance positions like the Louisiana State Government (USA), consulting agencies, and non-profit agencies.
My last position was working as a Finance Director for a small Texas state government agency that was expanding.
Due to a change in the executive management, that project position was eventually phased out and I was left jobless!
This happened in Feb 2017.
When that job opportunity unexpectedly ended (in February 2017), I took some time off and evaluated my life.
To be honest, I worked for 22 years straight and at that point in time, I needed a break from working full-time. I was so tired mentally and physically which I never realized.
I needed time to pause and think about what I want to do next, what would make me happy and fulfilled professionally and personally.
Also, at the time when my position unexpectedly ended a close relative of mine had been hospitalized for an illness for several months and I was traveling most weekends over 200 miles one way to visit them.
As you can imagine, it was a very stressful time in my life. So, taking a break to figure what I exactly wanted seemed to be the best thing that happened.
Taking up another job and not following my gut is something that I did not want to do.
So, in March 2017, I became a Texas notary public and began offering those services to the general public and also to real estate companies to notarize home sale documents. I did work as often as I could in my notary public business to earn extra income as needed.
Simultaneously I began volunteering my time in the community and also studied for two parts of the CPA exam for the last half of 2017.
Yes, I worked all my life in the finance/ tax profile I had the knowledge but no CPA degree. So this was the perfect time to get the degree!.
In 2017, I invested my time in understanding – What I wanted from life while freelancing as a Texas Notary Public, helping the community and pursuing CPA.
Honestly, 2017 was life-changing as I never knew what it is NOT to work full time. Starting on your own after working for 22 years straight every single day can be scary and amazing at the same time.
Thinking of it today, I am truly grateful for what happened, because it forced me to have exactly what I always wanted: Freedom to pursue anything I want.
Keep reading and you’ll get the answer of these questions:
How did I set up a consulting business? and how can you start a consulting firm?
How I Set Up My Own Consulting Firm
“Adina, how do I start my own consulting business?” - I hear you ask. Stick with the article and discover the answer.
Now I truly believed that I had the skills, financial experience and ability to assist people with starting new businesses, preparing their federal and state tax returns, assisting them in tax planning (evaluating various avenues to legally reduce their income tax liability), etc.
After almost a year of freelancing and pursuing my studies (CPA), I finally got my business off the ground. Without any formal business plan or anything, I decided to launch my business in January 2018.
Thankfully, I was blessed to have personal savings to invest in my business and the passion to help others.
When I decided to launch my business in 2018, I planned to use approximately $5,000 of my savings towards starting my business. Here's how I invested the money:
- Creating my website.
- Registering my business with the State of Texas.
- Buying needed office/computer equipment.
- Advertising and marketing costs, etc.
For now, I am a home-based business and primarily work virtually. I travel to my clients when needed. So, investing in rental office space when I was just starting is something I did not want to do.
Simultaneously, I also began researching free business training with the U.S. Small Business Administration, local community colleges (via Facebook and LinkedIn.com) that I would need as a new business owner.
The U.S. Small Business Administration provides a number of tools for emerging entrepreneurs, including tips for starting and managing your company. It also helps with information regarding applying for loans and grants to serve as seed money.
I actively attended in-person training and also online training to gain as much information as I could to equip me and my business. Thus apart from investing in my business I also invested in myself.
To all those not living in the US, you can find similar associations in your country as well. So do your research.
How Did I Get My First Client?
Actually, even while working full time I would help family and friends file their returns. I would also help them in their tax work.
So technically my first few income tax preparation clients were friends and family from my home state of Louisiana a few years prior to my starting my new business.
However, I met my first new accounting business client via LinkedIn, approximately 5 months after I officially launched my business. Yes, it took me 5 months!
My first LinkedIn client, connected with me because we were both from the same hometown in Louisiana.
He had just relocated from a different section of Dallas to my area. I met him at his office.
We had a great conversation about our businesses and mutual interests. He asked me to be his accountant on the spot and of course, I gladly accepted.
There's a number of websites that you can use to get freelance accounting work like – Upwork, Fiverr etc. However, as of now, I have not used any of them!
I don’t consider myself a complete success yet because I’m still actively growing my list of accounting and business advisory clients.
What is my day like after starting my consulting business?
Well, right now I am single and don’t have a family yet so most of my time I am working.
In fact, sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s really okay to take a break from my business and enjoy the simple things in life such as going to a music concert, a movie or hanging out with good friends.
Starting my own company has changed my life for the better.
It has given me the opportunity to meet so many people from diverse backgrounds and industries that I never would have met working a regular full-time job. There is really no greater reward than knowing that an idea that was in your mind for several years has now become a reality.
Here's how I spend my time:
- Working on clients' projects.
- Creating automated workflow processes.
- Meeting virtually with my business partner.
- Creating web content for my social media pages.
- And researching trends in U.S. tax changes.
Does Business Have More Money?
After working for 22 years straight, I definitely feel like I can make more money as a business owner than working for a company.
Companies restrict your earnings to an annual salary and rarely pay you what you are worth (hours worked, years of experience and talent).
As an owner, I have no limit on what money I can make.
Make no mistake: Entrepreneurship is hard. It requires sacrifice, hard work, and persistence.
Did I Ever Feel Like Giving Up
Yes, I definitely felt like giving up multiple times in this business journey because it was difficult to get new clients.
My journey was not easy, but I’ve been very blessed to have a supportive family, friends, a great new business partner (who also happened to be my first accounting client) and a supportive business community.
I think everyone should begin their own businesses, even if it begins as a part-time or side business.
We should have more than one stream of income and should never be defined by one full-time job.
What Are My Goals
My goal was to start my own successful business (which I did start. So one goal is ticked marked!).
I also want to be in a position so I can create an educational foundation to provide scholarships to those desiring to attend college or those who want to return to school to pursue skills for a new career.
I am planning to expand into financial and business advisory services coaching individuals and new small business owners. So focussing in this area as well.
In the next 2-3 years, I hope to add 3-5 full-time staff to assist me in expanding my tax planning and business startup coaching services.
Have I accomplished everything I set out to do? Not yet. Because I’ve been in business for 11 months so far, I still have lots to accomplish.
But I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished so far.
How To Start a Consulting Business
Find your motivation
- For me being laid off was the wake-up call I needed to start following my dreams. Whatever situation you are in, use that as motivation to start a business of your dreams.
- My Best Advice To People Out There (ESPECIALLY WOMEN): To know that you are capable of creating your own businesses even if you don’t know how to get started!
- Starting a business under any circumstances isn’t easy, and the aftermath of being laid off can be a particularly trying time. However, if you have the motivation and financial stability, creating your own business, can be beneficial.
Decide what kind of company you want to create
- If you’re going to go into business, you must first decide what type of company you want to create.
- You can leverage YOUR existing skills and experience to create a consulting or freelancing business that is closely tied to your old career (just like me).
- Alternatively, you may want to start a business in an entirely unrelated field. This path presents more challenges.
- Regardless of what type of company you create, just remember that passion will only get you so far.
- Ultimately, if your new enterprise is going to be successful, it needs to provide a good or service that is valuable. It is good to follow your heart but also be strategic and carefully consider all of your options when starting a company.
Learn and develop skills
- I actively attended in-person training and also online training to gain as much information as I could to equip me and my business.
- Thus apart from investing in my business I also invested in myself.
- I also started pursuing my CPA.
Ask for feedback
- Aspiring new business owners should also actively seek one or two business mentors that can provide valuable feedback on getting started in the business.
- The feedback could be on business strategy, sharing past failures and successes and accountability in pursuing and following through in executing your business.
- Also, be careful who seek guidance from.
Find a Mentor
- I was very fortunate to connect with two business mentors. One of my mentors has been in business for over 40 years and the other mentor has been in business for approximately 10 years.
- Also, those starting out should know that you are never alone. There’s always someone willing to help you. You should not feel like you have to do everything on your own.
- Sometimes, the most successful businesses were started by only one person but the business owners gained great success by partnering with the right kind of people.
- Networking is extremely critical to your business because it helps you build great relationships and provide opportunities for potential business referrals.
- In March 2018, I began networking in my community in Dallas, USA. I started reaching out to other entrepreneurs and employees of companies that I thought could benefit from my services. Many people were very gracious in sharing information with me and even making business referrals to me.
- I attended community business workshops also through those networking groups in my community and began building business relationships with others.
- I also began networking through attending my city’s local Chambers of Commerce training.
- In the meanwhile, I also attended local entrepreneur networking meetings listed on Meetup.com, LinkedIn.com, and Facebook.com. I got my first official client through LinkedIn.
- This is how I use LinkedIn to grow my business – I typically look at current LinkedIn contacts other connections. I reach out to new contacts based on mutual business interests, my ability to assist their businesses with my services or because I admire the work that they are performing.
- Bottom Line: if you are starting a business – YOU HAVE TO NETWORK.
- There are amazing people out there who are ready to help you in some way or the other. Also, you should be ready to help others.
- People should not be discouraged if their businesses do not immediately grow. Business success and growth is a process!
- On a final note, running your own business is not for everyone. But with enough passion, persistence, vision you can succeed.
Bonus: Here Are Some More Advice on Starting Your own Consultancy or business.
“Make sure that when you initially start, everything is set up properly.
I mean do all the documentation as though it is a proper working company.
While you are starting your e-commerce business or online store make sure to add as many as features possible.”
If you want to start your own business or consulting firm, you need to build a powerful network. Your network is your net worth.
There is a lot of work out there and you just need to go out there and get it.
I highly suggest you start networking as early as you can (your first year at university).”
‘Don’t be scared to choose the right person to run your business. It’s about identifying what your business needs. Hiring the right professional to run my business made my business so much more organized.”
It is better to focus on one aspect until you perfect in it before expanding through other brands or business segments.
Now it's your turn
Have you considered starting your own business? Or are you running your own business?
Or maybe you have a question about something you read.
Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.
Do you have any questions about a tax situation or starting your own business? Adina is happy to provide a free 20-minute consultation to review your issue and address your questions.
You can connect to her on Linkedin at – Adina Collins.