August 3, 2007

Don't Go It Alone

Over the past few years I’ve watched colleagues take the plunge to become consultants, and I’m always surprised how many of them want to go it alone. Two of the biggest challenges when starting a new business (specifically consulting) are...

  • All your success stories have an asterisk that you did it under the company you used to work for.

  • You don’t have the best kind of marketing, which is a direct reference from a personal contact that has experienced your company.
In Tim Sanders’ book Love Is the Killer App he says, “Your network is your networth.” Your ability to generate revenue is directly correlated to the amount of people that are willing to recommend you, assuming they even know what you do. Using your network to create business is something that too few people do. My dad (a long time entrepenuer) always told me, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

I’ve spent almost every evening of the past week sending out introduction letters to prospective clients, and I’m pretty confident that some business will be generated from that work. But I know that a direct reference from a personal contact will generate more opportunities than I ever can. I say personal versus professional because a professional reference is from someone that doesn’t know you. They know what you do and so they reference you, but they don’t encourage someone to hire you. Personal references enjoy referencing you and passionately encourage someone to hire you.

I sent out the first ping to my personal network-of-success. I’ll keep you updated on what generates more business: the letter to my network or introduction letters to prospective clients. I'm betting on my network.
Letter to my personal network of success.

Yogi Berra once said, “If you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

It seems almost a dozen times in the past three years my professional life has been at a fork in the road and each time I’ve taken the “safe road”. Three weeks ago I reached another fork in the road.

Just over a month ago InfoGenesis was purchased by Agilysys Inc., the largest hospitality technology company in the world. As many of you know, about four months ago I accepted the role of Director of Professional Services for InfoGenesis, helping recover a department that had gotten somewhat off course. Three weeks ago the new company ownership asked me to move to Las Vegas to manage the professional services group, as that is the new primary services office. Chrystal and I love Santa Barbara and are not yet ready to leave, so I declined the offer. Upon declining the request to relocate the joint decision was made that they would be hiring someone for my position in Las Vegas. Though this sounds like an unfortunate incident I am viewing it as an opportunity.

The new ownership had expressed the sincere desire to keep me on board at the company, and requested I think about what job I would like. It was wonderful to have the blessing of being able to choose what job I really wanted, and even create one if I could justify the value. After much reflection, discussions with Chrystal, wise counsel from my dad and prayer I have made the decision that this time the job I really want is Owner and Principal Consultant for Kevin Sturm Consulting.

At what will be one month short of nine years, my last day with InfoGenesis will be Friday, October 5. I have spent many evenings over the past few weeks working on starting Kevin Sturm Consulting, and will spend many more in the coming weeks. Most of that time has been spent networking with contacts and getting a foundation to start a client base. At this point I would say I have the ground work in place, but I still need to finish my website and a few administrative tasks associated with starting a business. The next step is to land a customer and my first of what I hope will be many consulting jobs.

My biggest challenge in this role will be establishing my own reputation in the industry. For nine years I have been backed by a big well established company. As a private consultant I now have to make a name for myself, but the recommendation from a trusted contact will always be a vital part of my business. All of you know me personally, professionally or both and I hope can be part of my extended network-of-success. I will be providing a few different services, but will specialize in system evaluation and selection for hospitality venues and use case and requirements gathering for hospitality vendors. If you know of any hotels, restaurants, resorts, golf courses, stadiums, corporate cafeterias, or any hospitality related venue that is opening or planning on replacing their technology system(s) and feel confident in referencing my services please do.

As I embark on this new journey I covet your prayers, words of wisdom, criticism and help. Thank you all for your friendship and support. I am hoping that this will be first installment of a regular newsletter, and that with each new installment I will have stories of success and learning experiences to report. If you’re a blog reader you can catch regular updates of how things are going on my blog.




Cat said...

I am so pleased to hear about your new venture. Congratulations on taking this huge step!

|| davidjay || said...

You are awesome man! I can't wait to see what you accomplish AND what you help others accomplish in this new life!

Kevin Sturm said...

Thanks DJ. When are we going to get to see your new pad? From the videos it's awesome!