How an executive assistant grew her practice by following a clear playbook

The Vik Duggal Workshop aka The Workshop is an offering that is part of DuggalConsulting. Two years ago I started helping friends who wanted to live the consulting lifestyle I had created. I do this through a 2-day offsite specifically dedicated to refining the offer to be sellable immediately after leaving. Some friends take advantage of the ongoing support I provide for six months afterward.

This is my way of taking what I’ve learned creating DuggalConsulting – a business that serves companies ranging from VC-backed technology startups to large companies doing $12B in annual revenue – and by serving my clients to help friends unlock their full potential.

In this case study, I interviewed Ferren Warner from ACE – an executive assistant service that is building a larger business after The Workshop.

Ferren Warner, Founder/CEO, Ace

1. What made you sign up for the workshop?

I knew that my business had a cash flow problem. Honestly, I started the company with my first client being my mom. Yes she was my mom, but as the Chief Medical Officer of the largest public health plan in Southern California transitioning into a consultant traveling 80% of the time.

I thought she was the perfect person for phase one. I think I took for granted that I didn’t have to raise money or bootstrap. I just started doing what I knew best and trusted the rest would go from there.

I quickly realized 15 clients and 10 team members later that I was really in business. Year 1 “proof of concept” was done. And I was headed into Year 2 attempting to up-level everything (team, service, client coverage). I quickly realized to do it well meant a shift in the entire business model…but I didn’t know how to get there.

I was also intrigued. I knew what Vik had done for himself and I saw first hand the success of his hard work (full disclosure he’s a client). I envied the model he was living and breathing. I wanted to learn how to manifest that for myself and my family.

2. What was the most impactful part of the program?

There were so many wonderful parts of the workshop!

(1) I loved the opening and how we were asked to explore answers to a series of prompted questions. My favorite “why are you here?” and “who are you doing this for”. I revisit those questions every, single day. It motivates me beyond words.

(2) crafting our target audience. I can’t believe I had never done this before. I think I was stuck in this “thank god anyone wants this service” mode that I didn’t take time to think through whether I thought they were the ideal client or not. I now have it firmly in my mind who the ideal client is.

(3) Crafting my sales proposition. This was a light bulb shattering moment. When I was finally able to have the words to describe what ACE is meant to be. Not just an on-demand VA service. It’s so much more than that. The value of the service, the ambitious but attainable goal…my mission felt very clear and I am now able to easily identify where my growth opportunities are.

3. What kind of results did you get from the program?

In 30 days I was able to:

– identify my current client base and identify who my ideal clients are, 

– I was able to speak comfortably about the future of the company with existing and new clients, 

– I was able to convert existing clients to the new model, 

– I onboarded new clients, 

– I have made improvements to internal operations with the team and how we function, 

– I brought in $72,000 in the first 45 days and am set up to bring in another $600,000 in the next year.

4. Anything surprise you about the program?

-I was surprised by how emotional I got. What I experienced in that workshop really changed my life. We were talking about everything in the construct of what to do with my business, but the potential it unlocked changed the way I think about my life (and that of my husband and kids). I’m so grateful. Yes, I actually cried at times (outside of the meeting of course).

5. What did you think of the facilitator?

He’s alright 🙂 KIDDING. Vik is incredible! He’s the reason I even came. It was not an insignificant amount of money for me to come, but I didn’t think twice about it. I jumped two feet in because again I’ve seen the outcome of what he’s done for himself and others. I’ve seen his magic. It’s pretty infectious.

6. Who do you think this program is for? 

This program is applicable for almost anyone at any stage of their business journey. I believe it’s for those who are just starting and looking for positioning and value prop support, I believe it’s for those whose businesses grew so quick and organically that they haven’t had time to pause and roadmap (that was me!), I think its for those who are struggling to figure out how to pivot / save their company when they’ve think all options are exhausted… but mostly I think it’s for those who know that life can be exactly what they dream it to be, but need a bit of support putting that into fruition. I feel like I’ve been fortunate to be put in the right place, with the right “support”, at the right time. I’m ready to help others live the richest, most enjoyable, stress-free life they can live. Ace is ready to take off. Let’s do this! 

How a UX leader thoughtfully grew his consulting practice

How a UX leader thoughtfully grew his consulting practice 

It has always been a goal of mine to share my learnings and expertise and the stories of companies and entrepreneurs I have helped – from seasoned veterans to those just starting up. It’s part of the reason I created The Vik Duggal Workshop two years ago as I built my own consulting practice. I have received incredible results; I want to share them. In this event, I take attendees through an incredible experience over two days to analyze what they do better than most and MAXIMIZE all aspects of their consulting practice. When done, they have all all the tools to increase their income and deliver amazing value. 

Today’s interview is with Prakash Chandran. Prakash is the former head of UX for Google Enterprise. He attended The Workshop and used what he learned to increase the value he delivers to his clients. He answers six questions for you today:

1. What made you sign up for the workshop?

After getting to know you, It was clear that you had more experience than me and were at a level in your consulting practice that I aspired to. After you sent me the initial workshop offer, the email spoke to the problems I was having, but sounded a little bit like so many things i’ve heard pitched to me before. The difference for me was the fact that you were willing to be fully transparent about the practice you had built and that you took the time to address my concerns when we met for coffee. You gave me a little hint of what was to come by telling me my revenue model might be wrong. I like that I got some value before even taking the workshop.  

I’d say I was also at a time where I was looking for a breakthrough. My wife had me read a chapter in the book YOU are a Bad Ass and it was around the limiting beliefs we put on ourselves. It just so happened that I met you shortly after that happened.

2. What was the most impactful part of the program?

* Hearing about your values (aligned with mine). We spoke about this briefly yesterday. “Figure out what you do REALLY well, figure out how to sell it so you have more free time to do things you love”

* Putting structure around how I talk about what I do

* Putting together an offer email. Empathizing with the customer first, saying I can help and then being very clear and structured about how I will help them. Finally ending with what the investment is 

* Being asked to reach out to people in my network immediately

* Seeing other people go through the exercise with you of figuring out how to talk about what they do

3. What kind of results did you get from the program?

Before the program even began, I signed my first retainer customer. In total my monthly revenue has gone from $15k (the most I had ever done in a month) to $60k per month (consistently) and should hopefully grow if I can figure out how to systematize even more.

4. Anything surprise you about the program?

I don’t think anything surprised me per se. I didn’t really know what to expect, but taking the time to be with like minded people and having a mentor to really provide structure to our thinking was just what I needed.

5. What did you think of the facilitator?

I love that you love when people unlock things for themselves. You’ve clearly spent a lot of time thinking through what’s important and how to get the life you want, and you can articulate it in a way that inspires people to get moving and create better circumstances for themselves. It’s a true gift!

6. Who do you think this program is for?

I think this program is best suited for consultants/contracts who have already taken the leap to get out of the W2 world but aren’t making the kind of money they want to be making. Secondly, someone who is STUCK at a W2 job who has spent a career crafting their abilities and thinks they are capable of more but doesn’t know where to start

Anything I missed asking about?

I think there’s a certain mindset that people need to be in to get the MOST value out of the program. They have to be ready to change and to make an investment in themselves. I think it’s hard to really figure out who sits in that bucket, but I think the price (cost of investing in themselves) is a good start.

If you think of any more questions don’t hesitate to ask!