In September of 2017, I did something that absolutely terrified me. I had done consulting work for a large company based out of London (an N.D.A. that was signed prevents me from listing the name). They liked my training and offered myself, Chaka Dillon-El, and my team of 10 the opportunity to submit a proposal for a two-million-dollar digital marketing consulting contract. If we had gotten it, we would have taken over a small part of the digital marketing of a company that does 80 billion euros a year in business. To say that I was scared is an understatement. Up to that point, I had never dealt with the fear of success. The idea of becoming an instant millionaire–and growing my business that fast–scared the daylights out of me.
We put in the proposal along with 30 other companies. We knew that our odds of getting it were a long shot. But, we spent a month putting this proposal together and prayed we could land the biggest deals of our lives. It took a few weeks to hear back. We got confirmation that we had made the final cut and it was up to the board of directors to decide. In the end, they picked a company from London that had a bigger and more stable team in place. Chaka and I were bummed to be so close but felt grateful that we made the final cut in a field of so many prestigious companies. We licked our wounds and determined to put in the winning bid in 2018.
That experience and everything that has been happening the last four months has opened up every part of me. I am not the same Kimanzi as even five months ago. Losing that contract and the influence of an amazing person in my life has helped me see some important lessons about consulting, life and building a real business.
There’s a difference between an online business and a real business.
When I started this journey, I wanted to build a business that “made money while I slept.” All I thought about was self-publishing my ebooks and making money from them. My background in entrepreneurship is not online. I owned and operated an offline $500,000-a-year service business for 12 years. My business was a vacation-relief service for independent vendors. The business operated in three states and had six employees. It was a great business that I completely mismanaged because I didn’t understand entrepreneurship.
When I started to make money online, I spent it and lived life without thinking about business and structure. I didn’t create a team, have a strategic plan for growth, organize the structure to maximize profits and account for lowering taxes, have a solid marketing plan, and 100 other things. It took talking to and masterminding with an entrepreneur that’s an MBA, has a strategic planning background, and has worked for some of the largest companies in the world to see that I didn’t have a real business. I had an online and lifestyle business that made a great income but it could not scale with the way I was running things.
Just because you’ve made money online does not mean you have a business. A real business is more than making money. A real business has a plan to consistently generate revenue, a strategic plan to scale, a plan to market in an effective way, brings in pros to handle tasks you aren’t good at, has built in time for evaluation of what’s working and what’s not, and is a business in a way that aligns with your life values and goals.
Don’t just make money online. Study and element real business practices into what you’re doing. All that stuff learned in an MBA program/school is NOT evil. Not having this kind of a business setup was one of the major reasons we lost the two-million dollar contract. The company they chose had it.
V.A.’s alone won’t help you scale a real business.
Over the last two years, I have grown a team of ten virtual assistants. Eight handle projects and two are technical. They have been great in handling tasks that I can’t do, but the reality is my business won’t scale with VAs alone. Virtual assistants do exactly what you tell them to do but that can be the problem. They aren’t always self-starters and need a lot of instruction. It can be a lot of micromanaging, which takes up a good deal of your time. That time could be better spent.
To scale, I’m scaling down my team and bringing in professionals that understand the different aspects of my business. We are doing partner sharing arrangements and paying some pros for tasks. A major change is that I’m bringing in a partner into the business that’s good at the things I’m good at.
Virtual assistants can help your business but you’re going to need more to scale. You’re going to have to invest serious money into hiring and partnering with pros to scale a real business beyond yourself (if that’s what you want). In our proposal, we listed out the virtual assistants and what they did. To a large multinational company, they worried we couldn’t handle the workload without any experienced entrepreneurs. Our proposal this year will be much stronger because of the changes being made.
Getting organized gets you to your most productive self.
I used to shoot from the hip. I used to plan a few things here and there but not much. I leaned on my team a lot and it led to a decrease in productivity. Let’s be honest, I had no plan for my day, weeks, and months. It was sad.
My new business partner challenged me. My business has been exploding and all the tasks challenged me. I had a choice: get organized or lose money. Since then, I keep a to-do list. I use my calendar religiously, I have weekly calls with my team and partner, and I’m experiencing one of the most productive periods in my life. Right now, I’m on a flight from London to Detroit. Instead of watching movies—like I normally do—I’m writing these lessons for you and me. I took a picture to prove it (see above)!
Getting organized can be your best move as an entrepreneur. A lot of us talk about being organized and convince ourselves that we are. Let’s get real with each other—we can do better. Losing the two-million dollar contract and other lessons in my life helped me see the truth and run towards the light. Add getting organized to your list of goals this year. It’s one of the keys to scaling and growing a real business.
Make power moves in silence.
If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you know that I’ve spent six years posting most of everything that’s happened in my life. I’ve had a very open and transparent journey, and it’s the reason my platform has grown in the way it has. This may surprise you, but there’s a lot of things happening behind the scenes in my life and business that I haven’t posted about. There are some major things happening. I’ve learned the value of making power moves in silence.
The reality is that there’s a gang of people who don’t want to see you succeed. There are people in your life right now that want to see you fail but they’ll keep it quiet and smile in your face. In my case, those people are pretty public and they show up every day to tell me what they think about me. I’ve been called a fraud and worse for six years of this journey. I do, however, appreciate their upfrontness. For that reason, I don’t post everything anymore. I’ll let my wins speak for me now.
More than that, I now understand that I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. I’m not asking anyone for anything. People can make up their own mind about me, and follow or not. It’s not my job to convince them, and I won’t spend my energy that way. My goal is focused on becoming the best version of myself in every area of my life.
As you build a business, you will experience all sorts of challenges. People call them “haters” and blah, blah, blah. You also will experience growth challenges and things that just don’t go right. Don’t add to the difficulty of entrepreneurship because you thought sharing would help. Make power moves in silence and people will know on your terms.
Remember, you DON’T have to prove anything to anyone. You don’t have to justify any decision you make in your life. If someone doesn’t believe it, they can make a simple choice to not follow you. They can block you and move on with their life. Don’t waste your time or energy trying to show them what you know to be true in your heart. Live YOUR life. Make your moves. Do what’s right for you and don’t apologize for selfishly living your truth.
We lost that contract but what’s come from the experience is so much bigger. I’m building a real business that will scale in a short amount of time. I’m putting a solid team in place and brought on a business partner that I’ll build an empire with. This can be an incredible year for you in many ways if you take to heart these lessons. You’re here to learn from my experiences, so use them. I’m cheering for you this year.
Are you building a real business?
You deserve to get paid well for your time, knowledge, and expertise. You deserve to travel the world doing what you love and bringing your loved ones. You deserve to get paid higher margins and make passive income. You deserve to get paid five to six figures every time you train. You can.
Companies all over the world want to hire consultants to train their employees on all kinds of topics. Midsize companies, Fortune 500 companies, and multinational corporations will spend $365 billion dollars next year on training. Part of that could be yours if you understand how to find the right companies, put together pitches and proposals, set up a prospecting system, negotiate consulting contracts, and do the gigs.
I’ve done consulting gigs at companies in 73 countries over the last five years. My graduates have booked over $650,000 worth of consulting gigs in 44 countries. I can teach you everything you need to know about becoming a highly-paid international consultant to corporations.
The home study version of my Get Booked program is now open: http://kconstable.com/booked/