Starting a Consulting Business
Interview with David Lewis, Founder of Type A Consulting
David Lewis has taken the lessons he learned working in corporate America to write a book and start a consulting firm. Today, he and his wife are the founders of Type A Consulting.
After writing the book The Emerging Leader: Eight Lessons for Life in Leadership, David put his wisdom to work by helping other businesses succeed.
Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
Type A Consulting helps organizations grow by delivering leadership development training, human resource consulting and strategic planning facilitation. We tend to target small and mid sized companies that could benefit from an outsider's perspective and 'big company' experience.
What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?
I was a regional manager for one of the country's top 5 staffing firms. My wife was Executive Director of a non profit that provided strategic planning facilitations to small municipalities and communities. We had started Type A Properties to help manage some investment property and so we were able to cut our teeth in small business management before Type A Consulting was created.
How did you come up with your business idea?
I had been helping people land new jobs and fast track their career for about 10 years prior to forming Type A. I had a bunch of business principles and tips that I taught people. Many of my team jokingly referred to them as "Davidisms". Well, those "Davidisms" became the foundation for a book that was released in 2008 called "The Emerging Leader: Eight Lessons for Life in Leadership". That book went on to become a bestseller and I started getting calls to provide keynote speeches and workshops based on my content - and Type A Consulting was born. Better lucky than good I suppose.
Did you have a partner when you started your business? How did you select a partner?
My wife became my partner. She had a successful career in strategic planning facilitation, so it seemed to fit with the overall business consulting model - and her billings almost exceeded mine for 2009 so it was a great decision! She is also a great counter balance to me, I tend to be the details guy and she can remind me when I am focusing too narrowly. I believe that a successful business partner should be a counterbalance.
Social marketing is consistently being written about in the small business space. Has it worked generating business for you?
@emergingdave is my twitter handle. I love sharing advice and building a sense of community online. But practically speaking, it hasn't brought any direct business. I think it is a place to 'test market' a new concept or a new line I may use in a speech however. I tend to think of it as my personal focus group, not a bed of new customers.
Temporary labor can be a great asset to an entrepreneur. Have you ever hired temps or contractors? Would you suggest this as a strategy for new business owners?
I began my career with Express Employment Professionals, providing temporary staffing and human resource consulting to companies. I believed in that service then, and I still do today. You pay a financial premium in the short term, but you decrease liability and gain expertise in hiring. Used judiciously, temporary staffing is a phenomenal tool for entrepreneurs.
What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?
I have found partners. Recently, I joined the Oklahoma Center for Non Profits as an adjunct consultant. It's a mutually beneficial relationship as they represent non profit organizations who may be struggling with operational or human resource issues, and the Center directs them to call me. By using me, they support their members and I am able to find new customers. I've worked out similar arrangements with other organizations.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
Line up business first! Starting a business is stressful enough, but put some wind in your sails before you leave the harbor so the venture doesn't stall. Many great ideas failed because the timing was bad and the entrepreneur did not have sufficient reserves to weather the first couple of seasons.
Great advice, David. It sounds like you and your wife are on the road to success. Thank you for your time!
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