Consultant to Entrepreneur: How and Why
Aaron Chan is a journalist at BusinessBecause.com, a professional networking and news site for the business school world. Visit the site for info on MBA jobs, MBA rankings and the popular Why MBA series!
Management consulting is more than the Big Four. It’s more than a job; it’s a skill set. More specifically, it’s a skill set that will arm you with the qualities and knowledge necessary to go off and follow your entrepreneurial dreams, if that’s what you want to do!
First, management consulting builds credibility. Entrepreneurship is expensive. Building a business often requires a lot of money and some of that money has to be spent up front. Consulting is a business that is built on trust and reputation- why else would a client choose to hire a consultant to tell him how to run his own business?
Consulting work creates a track record that helps former consultants build credibility quickly. Ioan Carpus, founder and managing director of Six Paths Consulting, built up his own reputation and experience with the Blue Ocean Strategy Institute in Kuala Lumpur before striking off on his own with five other friends and partners from INSEAD.
Ioan told us that, knowing he would eventually return to Europe, he “Saw that it was more valuable…to position ourselves with [clients]” using the Blue Ocean Strategy method he worked on in Malaysia.
Second, management consulting teaches you to take the long view. Office work can seem like an endless list of little tasks. Management consulting, by definition, tends to take a broader perspective. Clients generally hire consultants to work on major strategic changes or implement heavily technical processes that go beyond the expertise of company regulars.
It doesn’t even always have to be strategy consulting. As an acoustic consultant for Sound Research Laboratories, Phil Way had to do more than test sound equipment. He was also tasked with opening and running a new Bristol location for the company. He used the experience to enter the Bath MBA program. Whether or not entrepreneurship is in his future, Phil used the variety and flexibility of his consulting background to take on broader business responsibilities and break out of his original role.
Third, management consulting requires courage- something you’ll need in spades as an entrepreneur. For every Bill Gates, there are thousands of names you have never heard of who have tried and failed to get their own ideas to take flight. Cameron Mirza of UK firm WCL Consulting tells us that resilience is a necessary skill in consulting, as “Dropout rates in the first two years tend to be high, but those with toughness about them tend to progress and build careers for themselves.”