Following an extensive career in public sector health agencies, Jacq Hackett made the move from employment to solo consultant in 2000 and has never looked back. Based in New South Wales, Australia, she has an extensive portfolio of consultancy projects under her belt, working across multiple agencies, services and program areas. Jacq is now on a mission to equip start-up solo consultants in the government and community services sector to build a thriving business.
You can find out more about Jacq and her online course.
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For those who prefer to read our conversation, full transcript is here.
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Happy reading! Now here is the transcript of the podcast.
Ingrid: Hello, and here we are today with Jacq Hackett. Hello, Jacq.
Jacq: Hi, Ingrid. How are you?
Ingrid: Very well, thanks. Great to have you with us. Thanks so much for your time today. So let’s get into it. Let’s firstly, what is your business? What business are you in?
Jacq: I am in the business of public sector consulting. I’ve been doing that for the past 18 years and I specialise in working with public health services. In the last couple of years, I’ve really developed a new arm of my business and so now what I’m doing in addition to consulting is provide support and training for other people who are looking to transition from the public and community services sector into being solo consultants like me, so I kind of think about my business in those two ways.
At the moment the core business is still consulting, and the new style of the business is slowly taking over.
Ingrid: And so helping those that want to be like you.
Jacq: Exactly, because it is a transition. It’s a learning curve and it’s a transition. A lot of people want to be consultants and there’s not really a pathway, up until now, and so what I’ve done is I’ve done a few things, but the primary thing I’ve done is develop the Solo Consultant Masterclass, which is an online programme for people who are looking to make that transition.
Ingrid: That is fantastic, thanks Jacq. When did you start the consulting business, and then you said it’s only in the last year or so that you’ve done this other business.
Jacq: I’ve been consulting for 18 years, so actually a long time. I’m probably now one of the senior veterans of consulting, in New South Wales Health anyway, so that’s 18 years. For the last three years I’ve been developing the new arm of the business and formally launched it just in July this year.
Ingrid: Isn’t that fantastic? So, let’s think about that new arm. Why did you start that business? Why did you start it?
Jacq: It’s interesting because there was two things that really were the impetus, and the first one was very personal. The first part of the impetus is that I have two amazing sons and they live overseas. One of them lives in London, one of them lives in LA. They went travelling when they were quite young and they never came home to live.
They’re in their early 30s, they are amazing. They’ve got fantastic careers, they do really interesting stuff and it dawned on me that they’re not coming home, and so I really started to think about what my life would be like and what I wanted it to be like. They’re going to have kids, I reckon, sometime soon, and I don’t want to see my grandchildren once a year. It really, really, really prompted some deep thinking on my part that I actually needed a new business model. I needed a business model that’s not tied to being here in New South Wales most of the time. That was the first really big personal thing.
But also, I would really love to do a bit less consulting work. Consulting’s great. It’s been a fantastic role for me, but it’s complex and it’s hard and every project is like starting a new job. It’s exhausting. I don’t want to give it up, but really I would actually like to do less of it. So those two things were really the two things that for me thinking, “Well, what else can I do? How can I do business differently?”
Ingrid: You’ve kind of answered my next question, because it’s, what did you want from the business? It sounds like you wanted this personal side that gave you the freedom to be anywhere, but also this other side of actually doing a bit less of what you do really well.
Jacq: I think that’s right. I see it kind of as a transition to retirement. I’m not ready to retire, I’ve still got a lot of working life in me, but I’m hoping that the balance in the next few years will tip so that most of my income’s coming from sales of the masterclass and I’m still doing some consulting projects on the side, which I want to do.
Ingrid: And the right balance to that probably would be beneficial to both sides of the business in any case, wouldn’t it?
Ingrid: I usually ask people who are starting a business, when did it feel like the business was real? So given that you started this new arm, when did this new arm feel like it was a business?
Jacq: Look, it’s really interesting for me to kind of think about that, because when I first started out in consulting, I always had this sense that, oh well, if this doesn’t work I can go back to getting a job, which I could’ve easily. But within six to eight months, it was pretty clear to me that I could make a go of it and it felt like it was just going to roll from there, and it did.
But in terms of the new arm of the business, I think it’s been a really whole other transition for me. It’s really been about moving towards thinking of myself as kind of more of an entrepreneur/business owner and selling something tangible as my business. Consulting’s never felt like that. It kind of feels like you’re bit of an extension of the system. Yes, you’re outside of it, you’re running your own business, but this is something entirely different. I’m selling a product to individuals, which has been a really, really big shift for me, so yeah.
In terms of your question about when did it start to become real, it’s become more clear to me that this is a money making venture for me. That’s been an interesting thing for me. I have a target market that I have to sell to, and market this product to, and I have to be much more out there about it than I have ever had to be as a consultant. I’ve also had to spend a huge amount of time and some money to develop it, unlike my consulting role.
So in terms of the business concept being real, that has actually happened quite quickly, I think, just to grapple with all these things. This is what I’m moving into, I’m selling a product to a target market and building a business around that. It happened quite quickly that this is real.
Ingrid: That’s such an insightful answer, Jacq. Thank you. People listening may need to go back and re-listen to that because it’s such a different perspective, particularly even the consulting to think that that was just kind of an extension of yourself.
Jacq: I know, it’s really funny. I think that I probably took a long time before I thought of myself as a small business owner as a consultant. Yes, you’re running your own business, you’re doing all that, but I was selling my services to the government health sector and so it has a slightly different feel than small business owner in my psyche.
But this new arm feels very, very much like this is a business.
Ingrid: Yes, and it just happens to be online. It could easily be a shop front business, but it’s an online business.
Ingrid: Apart from wanting to have this business for yourself so that you could do less consulting and have more time overseas with your gorgeous family, how did you know that there was anybody who wanted this? How did you know it was viable? How did you know your customers would pay for it?
Jacq: It’s a tricky question because I was worried about that the entire time I was developing the programme, because I’d done my research. Obviously I’d done some research. I’d looked around, I’d talked to other consultants, and you get asked. When you’re out and about consulting, people take the opportunity all the time to ask you about consulting. How did you get started? What do you think it takes? And other consultants who are colleagues of mine have the same thing. Other people when they’re out and about talk to them about it.
I kind of knew that there are plenty of people moving into consulting. I also knew that plenty of people don’t make a go of it. They move back for all sorts of reasons. Not because they’re not potentially good at it, but they can’t make a go of it and people go back to employment, that sort of thing.
The programme took maybe two years to develop. I don’t like to say it took that long. It’s sort of a painful period. It was an enormous amount of work and apart from being able to test bits of it with people, with consulting colleagues from time to time, it actually felt like a big risk in terms of “what if this isn’t any good? What if no one wants this and I’m spending all this time developing it, et cetera, et cetera?”
Along the way, even though I’d done my research and I knew there was nothing out there like this, it was a fear that, oh my God, what if it isn’t [any good]? But then of course when I did have it done, when it was complete … huge milestone, that I did a beta test.
I gathered together a group of about eight to 10 people. I knew a couple of them, people who’d approached me and said, “I’m thinking about consulting,” and I said, “Okay, well, would you like to have access to my programme?” And then I put the feelers out to other colleagues and said, “Do you know anyone who’s thinking about it?” So mostly I didn’t know them, which was good. It was really good for me.
The deal was that they got the programme for free. The masterclass is set up so that once you purchase or register, you get free access to the whole lot. Everything is there, every module, everything. It’s not kind of a drip feed model, everything’s there. But the deal was that they had to give me feedback about every module that they completed, and I expected them to complete 80% of them and we had timeframes. So we had a kind of deal, a contract about what I wanted in return.
I did the testing process and it was really terrifying. Really scary. I was like, “Really? I’m going to put this out there now?” But I did it. The feedback was extraordinary and fantastic, so I really, really thought, “I think this is good. I think this is really good.” The feedback was really fantastic.
Then one other thing happened, which gave me a sense that there is a market here, is that I got my first random sale.
Ingrid: That is such a moment, isn’t it?
Jacq: Because I hadn’t actually marketed it in any way yet. It was just you could see that it was there on my website. I got this inquiry from someone who said, “Look, I’m about to leave my senior job and I’m going to consult and I just wondered if your masterclass would be for me.” And I said, “Look, it might be.” You know, this was all by email. “But how about you go and access some of my free resources and things like that first, I’ve got a free training video series, et cetera. See what you think.”
This person then purchased the programme. He was my first buyer, and he turned out to be the Deputy Auditor General of Victoria.
Ingrid: Oh my goodness!
Jacq: I felt like I wanted to get T-shirts made saying, “I love Steve,” and Steve was just fantastic. I didn’t ask for this, but he gave me feedback about nearly every module that he did. He loved it so much.
Auditors are really take no prisoners kind of people, and they do a kind of version of consulting anyway, do you know what I mean? Because they’re doing it externally to other organisations and their own organisations, so he was just the perfect first customer. He gave me the most wonderful testimonial that I could use.
So at that point, I kind of knew, okay, it’s good and that there’s a market for it. People are going to want it.
Ingrid: People are going to want it…. Jacq, I’m just going to make a comment. I’ve known you for a few years personally, and I am not at all surprised that the content is fantastic. I know your work ethic, I know your level of experience, I know how people think about you in the industry, so it does not come as a surprise to me that your product is fantastic.
Ingrid: Congratulations. Sorry, I didn’t mean to laugh when you said that, but that moment when you get that first sale, it’s like, “Where did you come from? How did you find me?”
Jacq: I know
Ingrid: You never forget that, do you?
Ingrid: And what a person to find you.
Jacq: I know. The other thing that he said was he was just Googling randomly, because he’s thinking, “Righto, I know I want to do this, but I don’t know how to do it. I don’t know how to be a consultant.” So he’s Googling randomly how to be a consultant, and he said he could find nothing.
Jacq: He said he was so relieved when he found me, and so that again gave me some confidence that once I was able to promote it, then there’s a niche market here.
Ingrid: There certainly is. Okay, so let’s go to your new customers. How do you find those new customers? How do you know where they are? How do you target them? What’s the strategy there?
Jacq: The niche market for the Solo Consultant Masterclass is very defined. It’s senior people leaving their jobs in the government sector to become consultants. A lot of people said to me, “Oh, any corporate consultant this would be good.” And I said, “But that’s not my credibility”. I don’t have any credibility as a corporate consultant. What I know is government consulting.
The niche is very defined. Finding them is another matter. It’s a slight, slight dilemma, not one that we can’t get over, but a slight dilemma in that I can’t really approach government to encourage their employees to leave, you know, that kind of thing.
But one of the best decisions I made, so once I’d finished and knew that the masterclass was finished and the site was working and all the rest of it, I got myself a marketing consultant. My best decision. We’ve spent the last five months building all the foundations of the marketing, so essentially finding where my customers are. That has been a money well spent decision of mine to do that.
There’s five platforms, if you like, that we’re working on to find the market and drive them to me, and one is content and publishing, so I’ve done a lot of that in the last few months. We’ve got a whole email marketing strategy in place. About to run my first webinar, so that’s exciting.
The other big thing that we’re doing is affiliate marketing. In terms of finding the customers, one of the areas that we’ve honed in on is where our customers might be is career transition coaches. There’s a lot of big firms, but there’s also a lot of individuals and small business type business doing career coaching. So that’s a been a great strategy to find those people.
I’ve started making connections, talking to people about the programme. I’ve made little videos so they can see around it and all the rest of it, and so we’re just putting in place all our affiliate partners. We’ve just been testing all this affiliate marketing software and everything this week, so we’re going to find them.
LinkedIn is my primary social media platform, and it is interesting that since I started doing all this, we’re publishing regularly. We’ve been publishing in Flying Solo and a couple of other places, as well as a lot of LinkedIn. My target market is now finding me on LinkedIn.
Ingrid: Isn’t that amazing how quickly that can happen?
Jacq: When you actually start to see it happen, you go, “Oh great, this is actually working.” It’s not quick, none of it is quick.
Jacq: Finding people and all the rest of it, we’re trying to get the foundations in place for the marketing, and then hopefully it will start to run and start to pay off.
Ingrid: Indeed. As you said, you can’t really approach the people and say, “Do you want me to come and run a workshop for your people who might be thinking about leaving?” Facebook also is an area that’s kind of fraught with danger for anybody suggesting people leave their jobs.
Facebook has a very dim view of anybody who encourages that sort of behaviour, so that’s an environment where lots of people say, “Oh, it’s easy to run promotions on Facebook,” but in fact Facebook’s not an area that would be right. I work in the “So you want to start a business” space, so that’s an area that neither of us really have open to us as a way of communicating with people, and it is an environment that people spend a lot of time on. It really does mean LinkedIn, and that partnerships with affiliates is so critical.
Jacq: The other interesting thing that I’ve had some ideas about, and I’ve talked to a couple of my clients who are very senior in government in New South Wales Health, is my idea of creating a workshop or a keynote kind of thing around how to get the most out of consultants.
Ingrid: So the other way round.
Jacq: The other way round, and one of my senior clients has said, “When you get that together, will you come and run it for my staff? We’ll be your guinea pigs.” That kind of thinking outside the square about how can I get in front of government without selling the masterclass, but being able to go to them and give them something of value. Because as a consultant, I can see a million ways how they can get better use out of us.
That’s on my radar to do as well, to put some sort of presentation or something together about that, and that’s a way I can potentially get in front of people without selling the masterclass, but being able to mention it along the way, potentially.
Ingrid: Along the way, just by being there. For the audience who’s listening and who is not a consultant, that is such a brilliant idea in terms of thinking about what can you offer your market that actually is not specifically what you do, but is some kind of outcome that you get from what you do? I hope those people listening can take that on board.
Okay. I’m going to ask you some money questions now, and, Jacq, as honest as you want to be or as general as you want to be, totally up to you.
Ingrid: You’ve talked about it taking time and money and the different things you’ve done, and an online programme and a website and branding and a marketing consultant; best money you spent. Where does this money come from? Were you doing your consulting, which was paying you nicely and giving you that, but then all of this other stuff, where does that money come from?
Jacq: My consultancy business has funded the development of the masterclass, and I’m in a fortunate position. I earn good money from consulting, I’ve got a reasonably high daily rate and so I’m in a good position. I can, where I want to and need to, I can pay other people to do things for my business, so I have certainly done that. It feels like in the last year, every bit of money that comes is going out again because it’s paying for the whole setup of the masterclass.
By far the biggest cost has been my time, and that’s all free, obviously.
Ingrid: How did you free up your time, because I know you took your time to develop the online programme. I mean, it’s in great detail, it covers every topic, where did you find the time for that? And you’ve written a book, by the way.
Jacq: Yes, I have written a book, and the book came first. It was through writing the book that I thought, “Ah, there’s something else here. There’s a much bigger product that I can create.”
How did I find the time? Look, in a number of ways. In a general sense, my discipline has been to work every single Saturday on the masterclass rather than consulting. I tend not to work weekends on consulting, so I’ve worked every weekend, at least one day on the weekend doing that.
But I also a couple of times … I thought the first time I did it it would be enough, but it wasn’t. I have taken some time out, so I’ve kind of pushed myself really hard in consulting, banked a fair bit of money and thought, “Right, I’m going to not work in consulting for the next two months. I’m just going to focus on the masterclass.” I did a couple of stints like that, worked overly hard on consulting, took a bit of time out from that, just to focus on that.
It’s one of the things that I just hugely underestimated with how much time it would all take, but it was so complex, all of it. So yes, I had a couple of stints out of consulting.
Ingrid: If somebody has a job or they have a regular commitment to another business, they can use their holidays, or they can take some leave without pay, or long service, or work part-time for a little while. It’s a model that’s available to a lot of people, isn’t it? Thank you for that.
Jacq: Yes, absolutely.
Ingrid: What process did you use to decide a pricing strategy for this product? The product is different to you and your services.
Jacq: Very different. As a consultant, especially in the government sector, you’re working on a daily rate basis and that’s how you cost your projects and all the rest of it. In thinking about what I was going to charge for the masterclass, like many other things, in many ways, I just made it up. I don’t mean I just randomly plucked it, and I’ll tell you about what were my considerations, but I don’t know what the right answer is. I don’t know what the right price point is.
The masterclass sells for $2,500, then there’s a payment plan that you can do as well, which is reasonably high for an online programme, I’ve done that sort of research and I know that’s reasonably high for an online programme. But the price is based on a few things.
Firstly, the target market. These are senior people with very good salaries and they’ve often had a redundancy payout, because a voluntary or a forced redundancy is often the trigger for people to become consultants, so they’re not people who don’t have access to the funds to pay for a programme.
Secondly, it’s based on how comprehensive the programme is. It’s a tonne of information, a lot of systems, a lot of step-by-steps have been developed, so I think it’s worth that price point. Also, as I said before, it’s unique. I haven’t been able to find anything similar.
Lots of people said to me along the way, “Oh, you should charge more than that.” Look, who knows? I’ve decided on a price point and I feel comfortable with that price point.
Ingrid: It’s selling, so it’s clearly working.
Jacq: Yes, it is. The sales haven’t been huge yet, but it’s selling. The price is not an issue.
Ingrid: You said that you were having this as your transition to retirement, my next question is about your exit strategy. Do you just see this going on forever, or is there an end?
Jacq: Don’t really know the answer to that.
Ingrid: That’s fine.
Jacq: It’s definitely a transition and a transition to not working quite so hard. I mean, there’s no such thing has passive income, really, but once we’ve got all the marketing rolling. I’ve got lots of ideas about how to update the programme now that it’s done, and also I’m going to run regular webinars with my cohort of students, that sort of thing. But it’s not going to be a full-time job, I would hope, forever.
Ingrid: No, and that gives you time for the family, which is what you said is important.
Jacq: I want to be able to go and live somewhere else for a few months of the year and can still do all this. I can still run the webinars, I still can do whatever when the product is an online product, yeah.
Ingrid: If you reflect back to the beginning of this part of your journey, is there something you wish you had done differently at the beginning of the online arm?
Jacq: I have thought about it. It seems to take forever to get clarity about what the new business could be and I went down a lot of rabbit holes, and not just in developing the whole concept of it, but also at many, many points along the way as I tried to figure out how to do it. There’s probably things I wish I’d done differently, but honestly I don’t know how I would’ve known how to do any of them differently. It kind of felt like the process was the process.
Ingrid: And it sounds like you’ve answered this question, and I’m not going to put words in your mouth, but is there something you wish you’d known from the start? And that is a different question to the one I just asked you, as you’ve talked about time.
Jacq: The one thing I had really underestimated, as I said, was how much time was going to be involved and how much learning was going to be involved for me about all sorts of things that I had no idea about, you know, how to … well, how to publish a book, how to write a book. Well, I got all this material, yes, but how do you make it into an online programme? And then how do you host your videos and then how do you make videos? And it just went on and on, all the things that I had to learn.
On the other hand, I think if I really had been able to quantify the toil and the time and the anxiety, would I have gone ahead? There were some days where I woke up thinking, “I really wish I hadn’t started this,” because I’m so determined once I’ve started something that I know I’m going to finish it. There were times when my whiteboard would just be filled with tasks and the programmes and all the rest of it, so yeah, I don’t know if it would have helped to know all that upfront, yeah.
Ingrid: Well, it sounds like you’ve had some terrific assistance from people around you, and I know I was at your book launch and I know you mentioned people, but do you want to just give us a sense of who has been the greatest assistance to you? Either name names or just in general. Sounds like your marketing person’s been pretty fantastic.
Jacq: My marketing person’s been marvellous, but in the early days of the development process, other consultants actually were really good, because I needed to be able to talk to people about this who knew what I was in the business of doing, so they were great.
I also used a tonne of freelancers. I used them in my consulting business, but I could not have developed the masterclass without them. And in fact one of the bonus modules I’ve put on the masterclass is about how to work with freelancers. I interview my own virtual assistant and I also walk people through how to get access to freelancers, because it’s not something that a lot of people actually know how to do or feel confident to do. I used them for all sorts of things for editing the videos, for developing the PowerPoint slides for me, a myriad of things, graphic design, all sorts of things.
There was one particular person that just took a lot of not only inspiration from, but got assistance from, and that was an American guy called David Siteman Garland. Now, I’ve never met David personally, but when I was doing the Googling, the random Googling of how do you develop an online programme, I found him by accident. He has this programme called Create Awesome Online Courses. He’s sort of a dude, he’s an American dude. But I thought, “No, there’s something here. There’s something here.”
I purchased his programme, which was about US$1,000, his wasn’t cheap. I have just got so much assistance and guidance from him and so not only from that, but how you do it. But then you can see him do the other stuff. Then he had a website template that you could purchase, that you could host your online programme on, and then he recommended a developer if you didn’t want to do it yourself. He had people who knew how to use this and who would build it for you.
I think his engagement with his audience is really absolutely marvellous. He’s a great role model and I just have a lot of admiration for him, and also for his marketing strategy. I’ve learnt a lot from being in his marketing funnel.
Ingrid: Yes, being on the receiving end of what he does. We’ll put his contact, because I know you put me in contact with David some years ago as well, so I’ll put his contact. Thank you for reminding me about him.
Jacq: He’s great. He’s just been listed on one of those … is it 500 best businesses in the US or something?
Ingrid: Oh, wow!
Jacq: So he’s really killing it. He’s really doing really well. He’s also, which I’ve also now purchased, he’s since developed a programme called Create Awesome Webinars.
Ingrid: There you go.
Jacq: As I’m about to run my first one, I’ve gone back to him. It’s interesting who you find help from and assistance from, but I could not have done it without assistance of many, many people.
Ingrid: Yeah, so we’ve talked a little bit about feedback in terms of the feedback for the online programme when you first piloted it and the different feedback that you’ve had along the way. Where do you feel, and you may not have much to add to this, but who do you feel can give you the most useful feedback?
Jacq: Well yeah, apart from the people who are my market, and the great Steve, of course, but it’s essentially, I suppose, my close network of colleagues. Mostly consultants, I’ve got a small group of us who are connected, but also other small businesses owners and entrepreneurs who are going on this kind of journey who I’ve connected with over the last couple of years, people like yourself and others. It’s very heartening and sobering and keeps you on the go about it, because it is a particular journey, isn’t it?
Ingrid: Sure is.
Jacq: Sometimes partners and family, et cetera, can get really sick of you banging on about this and that, and not surprisingly, so it is, I think, getting feedback from people who are doing a similar journey is really good.
Ingrid: Yeah, that’s so funny because sometimes when we’re at the beach, or at the weekend, I’ll be told, “Can we just have an hour or two without an Excel spreadsheet reference?” And there’s a famous moment where we were in the surf and I said, “There’s this Excel spreadsheet,” and Mark said, “No. There is no Excel spreadsheets in the surf.” Yeah, because we get obsessed, don’t we?
Jacq: I know, we do.
Ingrid: Oh dear. All right, so if someone comes to you, and they do because that’s what you help people with, and they want to start their own business, what do you say to them, Jacq?
Jacq: Well, it’s interesting for me because it’s twofold. I can think of other people who are doing any kind of small business, but I of course, as you say, my new business is focused around assisting other people to start what is essentially a small business, which is a consulting business. With those people I encourage them to do a bit of a self-audit to figure out whether they have what it takes, actually, because there’s all sort of things you need to be able to be a successful consultant, things like character traits, experience, credibility, all those things, and as well as things like you’re okay being outside your comfort zone a lot of the time and you’re good with deadlines and you don’t procrastinate.
There’s all sorts of things that are going to show you, if you do this self-audit, whether this is going to be for you or not, it isn’t for everybody. So that’s new consultants. But for other people who are generally just starting a business, the first thing I’d say: go for it. It’s such a great working life compared to being an employee. Well, for me it has been.
I’d really want to say, yes, give it a go. But I would also really encourage people to do their homework and do their due diligence about it. As you well know, not every good idea is going to fly, and so you really need to do some testing and some research to see whether it has potential to make money or not. I know I said that I spent a lot of time developing this product before knowing whether it would fly and so, yes, I don’t know.
But on the other hand I had a successful business going, so I wasn’t putting all my eggs in this one basket of the Solo Consultant Masterclass. I had a strong business, consulting business, that was paying all the bills. It’s important to do your due diligence around it.
Ingrid: Yeah, and I really like what you say about the personal audit, that are you the person who’s going to be able to do all of these different things? Because if you think about yourself what are the three characteristics? You mentioned a whole plethora of different sorts of characteristics there when you were describing that start up process, but what do you think your three characteristics are that help make you successful?
Jacq: One of them is fundamental and it’s really boring, but I’m very hardworking, and I suspect that is true for most successful business owners. You really do have to work hard. If you think that, “Oh, I’m going to start my own business because it’s going to be way better and easier,” it’s not easier. You really, really do need to work very hard, and I’m very hardworking. I’ve just got this work ethic, I don’t know where I got it from, but I have got a strong work ethic.
Ingrid: I think your Scottish accent might have something do with it.
Jacq: Could well do. I had this conversation with my sister the other day and she’s going, “We’ve all got the work ethic.” Yes, we do.
The other thing that I think is that I’m pretty good at operating outside my comfort zone. I mean, not always, not in all circumstances, but I think that when you start a business, you have to take a lot of things on the chin and take responsibility for a whole lot of things that you’ve never had to take responsibility for before, because you haven’t got an employer and you haven’t got an HR department and an IT department or a help desk or a whatever. You’re actually it.
And consulting, you always are outside your comfort zone, because the project you do next week you’ve got no idea about. One week I’m working in drugs and alcohol, then I’m working in high risk maternity services, then I’m in mental health for Aboriginal people. It’s like I don’t know anything specific about those areas so I’m always outside my comfort zone. And I’m good at it. I think that’s one of my characteristics.
The other thing is I think that I’m tenacious.
Jacq: I don’t let things beat me, and that has really, really, really had to come to the fore in developing the masterclass. Because of so many things I’ve had to learn – how do you do it, how do you take this idea and make it into an online programme? How do you set up the payment system? and on and on. I’m very tenacious.
There were many things that did not work first time, many things that I went down a rabbit hole and said, “Oh God, I’ve spent all this time or I’ve spent money and I’ve bought this and it doesn’t actually work,” but I will not let it go. I will work and work at it till it’s fixed, until it’s working.
Ingrid: And not in a dogged way either, Jacq, because people can get quite pigheaded about something. I mean, tenacity can go the other way, can’t it?
Jacq: Yeah, that’s true.
Ingrid: It’s so important to be able to tell the difference between what you actually do have to hang onto because it is going to work, you just have to figure out how, and that’s part of that. That to me is the essence of tenacity is actually knowing what it is that you hang on to.
Jacq: And keeping hold of the end game because it can be very tempting to just give up at various points when things do get hard, but keeping your eye on the prize and the long game. I think you’ve just got to get used to two steps forward, one step back. It’s kind of how it is until you’ve figured it out.
Ingrid: That big vision, that big why, the reason you’re doing it, whatever that is, is really so important, isn’t it?
Ingrid: Let’ wrap up, and thanks so much Jacq, this has been a terrific conversation, is there anything else that I haven’t asked you or that you’d like to add? Thinking about our audience, these are people, consultants, who want to be in their own consultancy, and maybe it’s a consultant working in another consultancy who actually wants to go out on their own, because even they have a huge transition because being part of another group is also quite different to doing it on your own. But also the people who are listening might want to start a flower shop or have a yoga studio. Anything we haven’t covered or that you’d like to add?
Jacq: I suppose there’s one thing I would like to stress is that concept of not doing everything yourself. I’ve realised that it does cost money to involve other people, but you absolutely have to consider really how to be cost-effective. So if I’m not good at something that I know I can get someone else to do, and better and cheaper, then I always try and consider this option, because I’m really conscious that time is money. That’s how people should start to think of it.
I charge a reasonably high daily rate, so I’m always weighing up whether I’m better off doing a consulting day and then paying someone else to do this job for me, versus trying to figure out how to do this job myself and not actually doing the best job of it.
As I said, I know that there’s always budget considerations for people, but I really would encourage people that within your budget, see how you can get assistance where you can to keep things moving forward in developing your business.
Ingrid: Yeah, I think that’s such sage advice. The people who try to do their own bookkeeping when they can hardly add up.
Ingrid: And I mean that. Do what you’re good at and leave the stuff that you’re not good at and find someone to do it, so that’s terrific.
Jacq: I see it in consultants all the time, other consultants. They do everything themselves. Get yourself an admin support person, get yourself a bookkeeper. It’s not cost-effective for you to spend your day doing things that you’re actually not that good at and that are going to take you longer than someone else, so I just think it’s a really good motto. Where you can and where you can afford it, get some help.
Ingrid: And it may not even be done as well as someone who knows what they’re doing will do it.
Jacq: Oh, totally. There’s so many things I’m just not good at. I can do them but I do them so, you know, it’s very mediocre.
Ingrid: Very mediocre.
Jacq: I think there are plenty of people who do a lot of things better than we do, and you should think about that, yeah.
Ingrid: Think about it very seriously.
Jacq, thanks so much. We could talk forever about businesses and all kinds of things.
Jacq: It’s been lovely to reflect. I mean, I feel like the journey’s not over. I’m just at the start really of this new venture-
Ingrid: Indeed. Thanks so much for your time today. Thank you and goodbye.
Jacq: Thanks Ingrid, Bye