How long does it take to make it?

I once posed that question to an attorney, about the time we were starting out in consulting. I knew this was not going to be an overnight success, but was curious about what to expect. The attorney had run his own small practice for many years, so I figured he was a good person to ask.

He responded, “Good question. Let me think. For me, it was five years. After working hard to launch and build the practice, one day I woke up and realized that I was established, and that I was going to make it. Yes, it was five years after I started.”

I often recalled his comment in those early years after making my own personal JumpToConsulting. wondering when I would feel like that. Things were moving along pretty well, and at the five year point, I FINALLY felt the same way — we were established.

But then, disaster struck. The business suddenly stopped.  It didn’t slow down — it came to a screeching halt. Two major clients suffered business setbacks, and cut back on using outside consultants.

The main niche we were pursuing — personal computers — dried up as the inevitable market shakeout occurred. So did a secondary niche. And finally, an uncertain presidential election put many client business decisions on hold.

Fortunately, we had put enough money aside to weather the storm — a short one, anyway. We used the time to regroup and refocus.

Since we’d done a bit of work on medical devices, we asked how could we expand that business. That led to writing a series of articles for a leading medical magazine, which ultimately led to a book and a nice bunch of new business.

We also looked into several other areas for potential business, and started some focused marketing efforts there as well. The result — within six months we were back on our feet.

So, how long is enough? For us, it was five years to get TO, and then THROUGH, the first big crisis. And having weathered the storm, we realized we were no longer novices — we had truly made it — and were here to stay.

P.S. Don’t despair in the early years — it is a lot of fun starting and building a practice. But it is also very satisfying when you realize you “made it” too!

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