Founder Focus Part 4: my advice for aspiring entrepreneur-consultants

When do you feel most accomplished in your work?

I feel most accomplished when my clients get admitted to their schools—and especially when they get money to pay for it. My clients have earned over $3.1 million in fellowships since 2010.

One year, I realized that my clients had been collectively awarded over a million dollars in fellowships after having worked with me—I had earned less than six figures!  Once the numbers showed in black and white the immense value I was providing to my clients, I drastically raised my prices to more closely reflect the value we provide.

What hesitations did you have about starting a consulting business?

I feared that international applicants wouldn’t want to work with a Black woman with dreadlocks (I was wrong!). I thought I looked too young (nobody cares!). Besides those two, I didn’t have many hesitations. I didn’t recruit for any jobs in grad school because I was determined to start this business. If I had actually been less naive, I would have been scared of running out of money during the slow season (which ended up happening two years in a row).

What do you wish you knew before starting a consulting business?

I wish I had known that admissions consulting is a highly seasonal business. I felt so rich when I started the business in Spring 2010, but I didn’t realize all the money was coming because I had launched it right before the start of the busy season. I wish I had known to set money aside for the slowest months (March – July).

I also wish I would have charged more when I first started my business. I was so broke the first two years! I also wish I had known the importance of and how to set money aside to pay my taxes.

What would you tell someone looking to start a consulting business? What skills are required?

You need to be willing to be CONSISTENT. It’s easy to start a blog, but you have to consistently post every single week (the posts don’t have to be long or genius level). Without consistency, people don’t trust you with their money. You need to be willing to charge high enough prices so that you can actually pay your bills. Remember, you need to be able to cover the expenses of the business, the expenses of your life, save for retirement, have an emergency fund of 3-6 months of living expenses, AND you should remember that about 20-30% of your profit will go toward taxes!

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