A question I was recently asked is, "What would you say is the main challenge in getting clients and having a flourishing cybersecurity consulting business?"
- Getting Credibility with the Right People
- Getting Your Target Customers to Buy
- Doing the Work You Want vs. Doing the Work You Can Get Paid For
- Scaling to the Point You Can Leave Your Day Job
Getting Credibility with the Right People
Just because you have experience in something at a bigger company does not mean you'll have ANY credibility outside of that space when trying to do this on your own.
When you go out on your own, you've got to sell the work AND do the work, so you've got A LOT of convincing to do. Just because you say it doesn't mean anyone will care or give you a chance.
Getting Your Target Customers to Buy
There will be companies you want to sell to and there will be companies who may be interested in working with you, and they likely won't start out as 1 in the same.
They may never align with your original plan, so you've got to be extremely comfortable and flexible with adjusting your plan and refining what you're offering as you go.
Doing the Work You Want vs. Doing the Work You Can Get Paid For
You may not be able to monetize your initial business model or you may find that people want to pay you for something you CAN do, but don't necessarily WANT to do.
You've got to stay nimble and constantly readjust what you are willing to do. Two pieces of advice I got when struggling with this were:
- Do the thing you don't want for X months first and then decide. The worst case is you get experience and you get some money.
- Money gives you optionality.
Make some money to give yourself breathing room and to regroup yourself instead of agonizing over it. Money lets you think, adjust, and pivot on this front.
Scaling to the Point You Can Leave Your Day Job
This is the one I struggled with the most early on. You need money to scale. Money gives you optionality. Money gives you time to think, strategize, and make the right next move.
Well, it's really hard to scale when you're working hard on the first two above while also having a day job. Also, your day job gives you money that's even allowing you to pursue the entrepreneurial path part-time.
It's crazy hard to give up that day job, especially if you don't have a support system to help carry you or substantial savings to give it a real go.
Not all of the above happened at the same time, but this is what I wrestled with as I grew my consulting business on the side. I'd love to hear from others if any of this rings true for them or what other pitfalls you've faced.