What made you decide to start your own business?
One of the people who raised me was my grandma who escaped Vietnam after the war, didn’t finish high school, and came to America with my grandpa, mom, uncles, and only $200.
She worked odd jobs such as a bag handler at Delta Airlines since her education didn’t qualify her for something that paid better. She eventually saved up money to open her own nail salon.
My grandmother wanted my cousins and me to get the education in America that she never had. She didn’t force us to become doctors, lawyers, or anything specific, but just to do better than she and my grandpa, who worked in the nail salon as well.
There was something about seeing my grandma start her own business from nothing that instilled in me the desire to start my own business from the time I was very young. She battled many challenges:
- Not having prior business experience,
- Being in a low-income community, and
- Obstacles such as having her store robbed and burned down multiple times
I really saw the grit in her and the drive she had to start a business.
I was working at a startup in Los Angeles after working at Bain & Company when My Consulting Offer first started. Even though I’d wanted to start my own business, the thing that made me do it then was a family medical emergency.
I started My Consulting Offer– which didn’t have a name at the time–when a family member needed emergency surgery that would cost more than $20,000.
I needed to make the money but at the time, the startup I was working at wasn’t profitable yet so asking for a raise wasn’t an option. I didn’t want to leave my job so I decided to start My Consulting Offer as a side business I’d work on weekends.
How did you come up with the idea for My Consulting Offer?
I only had a limited amount of time to raise $20,000. I didn’t have the luxury of a lot of options so I thought, “What is something I can do, that will provide value to people, and I can start right away?”
I wrote out a list of my skills. One was my success getting a job offer from Bain & Company, a top strategy consulting firm.
I remembered how hard my own interview process was. I’d also been an interviewer while I was at Bain, so I knew the difficult interview process was an issue for many people who aspire to become management consultants.
If you want an idea of how hard consulting interviews are, take a look at our page with the basics on consulting case interview prep – and this is just the basics. Helping people get into Bain and other consulting firms was fun for me when I was in university and even after, so I thought, “Let’s give it a shot.”
What was the toughest problem you didn’t expect when you started? What did you learn from it that others can learn too?
The toughest problem that I didn’t expect when starting a business was actually taking care of my health. I was working at my full-time job and just building up My Consulting Offer from nothing on weekends in the beginning.
When you’re tired, you don’t workout as hard as you can, you don’t sleep well, and you don’t take time to cook the healthiest foods. It didn’t make it easier that the closest food sources to me on the weekend were a pizza parlor and Hawaiian BBQ. When I was building my business, every minute counted, so I didn’t take care of my health as well as I should have.
When I started the business, I was 140 pounds. I was 165 lbs the year before I went full-time with My Consulting Offer.
What’s the best single piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur?
The best advice that has guided me as an entrepreneur is, “The quality of your product is the greatest marketing tool.” This advice helps me make sure we focus on the results for the people who work with us. Their ability to land jobs in consulting is our key success metric and we are pretty good at coaching them so they can achieve this goal.
85% of our clients land consulting jobs, and management consulting is a tough industry to break into. That statistic speaks more loudly than a growth hack on Instagram or a marketing campaign on YouTube. Marketing tricks come and go, but quality stays and remains your calling card.
You got stuck in Taiwan by COVID-19 shutdowns. How did you make that work?
It’s funny to think over a year ago, I was in Taiwan during a layover. I was flying from Singapore to San Francisco after speaking with one of our partners at the National University of Singapore–but then Taiwan closed its borders after I landed.
I was lucky that our company was already completely remote so it didn’t change how we operated much. My team in North America needed to be more clear on communication with me since we couldn’t communicate live because of the time difference.
But it did mean my team in Asia could expect more from me on Slack where we communicate, but I tell them not to use that as a crutch for low-effort communication.
My Consulting Offer has grown from a handful of clients to over 500 successful clients in 2020 in just 3 years. What allowed MCO to grow that quickly?
There is a lot that is attributed to the success of My Consulting Offer, but if I had to think about a few factors, here are the top 5.
- Begin with the end in mind. I found a market with a problem that was worth solving before I launched my business. I see so many people doing the possible, building a product they hope they can find an audience for. I started with the problem I wanted to solve and worked backward.
- Results are your ultimate marketing machine. Great marketing and poor results for customers/users/clients will ultimately doom a business. At My Consulting Offer, our #1 value since Day 1 has been to “create world-class results” before anything else.
- Surround yourself with people who are better than you. I don’t have an ego when it comes to someone on our team who is better than me at the jobs I used to do, such as coaching, writing content for our blog, and pretty much anything else.
- Focus on the One Big Thing. There are always hundreds of things calling at you in the early days of founding a business, but there usually is one thing that is the most important. Take care of that first.
- Never stop learning. As you grow, it’s tempting to think that you know it all, but you don’t. I am always thinking, “What else is there that I don’t know that can improve the results we create for clients?” It goes with surrounding yourself with people who start smarter than you and pushing them to continue to learn.
What’s one thing you recommend all aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their business to the next level?
Think about all the things on your to-do list. Instead of getting overwhelmed. Think of the 1 thing that is the most important right now that will make everything else easier.
What is your definition of success and how will you know when your business has “succeeded?”
My Consulting Offer will be a success when we achieve 3 things:
- We are no longer the “hidden secret” for people preparing for consulting. Instead, we’re the #1 resource that aspiring management consultants go to.
- My leadership team is empowered to the point that when I’m in a meeting, they ask me to leave because I am only going to slow down growth and getting results for our clients.
- We continue to grow even after we are #1 because if we aren’t learning we are dying.