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Consulting Club Issue #4

Vikrant Duggal
Vikrant Duggal
• 12 min read

Like many members of the club, Young Han was referred to me by an active member of the club. Young is currently the Head of Operations for the Cunningham Collective (a former consulting client of his) and has leverage the Consulting Club program to advise clients in addition to his full-time responsibilities. He's a fractional COO in his extra time, a #girldad, and always has his hand in an interesting additional project. His energy is infectious!

We recorded 30 minutes of amazing discussion on all things consulting. The full interview is available to members. Click here to apply today. A few spots left with the heavily discounted pricing through 12/31. This is the last interview before Consulting Club + Launch Pad course pricing goes back up to the regular price.

Young, newly based in Austin, Texas, has spent all of his life in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. He's worked with impressive brands and has a deep appreciation for all things operations and coffee.


The Young Han Interview

How did you get into consulting?

I started consulting through a gradual process. I'd been advising companies for quite a bit before I really formalized into consulting. And then my first real consulting gig was with one of my clients now.

So last year around October is when I first started my real consulting gig. Previous to that, I did what you would call consulting, but I qualify it more as like advising and it was just advising for equity or advising for startups and being more of a Just kind of a bouncing a soundboard for founders.

How do you describe what you do to people who've never met you?

I now describe it as fractional COO services. I am a pinch hitter executive that you can bring in to help you solve problems.

I'm helpful to people that are looking to grow and trying to scale or try to solve something that they're having a hard time doing, because they don't have either one, the internal capacity to do it. And, or two, they don't have the resources to hire a full-time seasoned COO.

Is this how you shared your early offer with? Often times people think that consultants have this all figured out.Who did you share early versions of your offer with?

I did not package it like this at all. I'd have to say that I actually didn't get this level of clarity and the level of velocity and traction that I'm seeing now until I took your, I took your course and I joined your consulting club.

That was kind of a pivotal moment for me because I was just kind of doing it. I was just doing whatever I thought I needed to do and what I heard people do or what I've interacted with other consultants when I've been an operator. And just kind of replicating through osmosis and just intuition.

And then over the last seven or eight months since I've taken the consulting class. With the workshop with you, I've been able to like really focus on what I wanted relevant, irrelevant, irrelevant to what the world says. This is, should look like really focusing on. I wanted in what I wanted out of this, and then started to work backwards in design.

Basically consulting business that fit me and what I wanted to do in my superpowers. And it was a process. It took me, I think the first three months were really hard cause it made me reorient all, all the things that I was doing. Right. Change, everything that I was doing. How was selling it? How is this packaging?

It. And then by the fourth or fifth month, I was able to fine tune it even further. And then it really clicked. And then when I hit the fractional COO thing, it resonated with me personally. And it was much easier for me to sell is much easier for me to communicate. It was also much easier for me to walk away to basically be able to tell clients or prospects, say, Hey, this is not the right solution for you.

And that was also really fun because then it really becomes less of a sales pitch and much more of like a matchmaking, right.?

You have a refined pitch. Did you already have your client based or prospect base ready to go, ready to buy?

Yeah, I had some, but it wasn't easy. And especially with the timing of the pandemic, and again, I don't think it's just the pandemic. I think a lot of things lot of things had contributed to this, but mostly being that I think everyone is going to go into this transition too, to a certain degree with some failure.

And some realization that it's very different than a W2 job. You're not selling a product or a service, and you're not insulated by this company's brand. You are essentially the service and product and you are the brand. And I know it sounds really stupid because it sounds so simple when I say it like that.

But actually going through the motions of selling yourself is a very different. And then also being able to package it up into a unique business proposition is very different than selling you know, yourself as a brand of a company or a product or service. So I anticipate that a lot of people that are going down this road will think that this is what they do, and this is how they're going to package it and sell it.

Just be open to refining it and be open to learning more about yourself and also learning about the market and continually refining your pitch. And it'll happen. I think it took me a little longer than most, but I got there eventually.

What are two or three specific moves you made to get clients?

I had some, but it wasn't easy. And especially with the timing of the pandemic, and again, I don't think it's just the pandemic. I think a lot of things lot of things had contributed to this, but mostly being that I think everyone is going to go into this transition too, to a certain degree with some failure.

And some realization that it's very different than a W2 job. You're not selling a product or a service, and you're not insulated by this company's brand. You are essentially the service and product and you are the brand. And I know it sounds really stupid because it sounds so simple when I say it like that.

But actually going through the motions of selling yourself is a very different. And then also being able to package it up into a unique business proposition is very different than selling you know, yourself as a brand of a company or a product or service. So I anticipate that a lot of people that are going down this road will think that this is what they do, and this is how they're going to package it and sell it.

Just be open to refining it and be open to learning more about yourself and also learning about the market and continually refining your pitch. And it'll happen. I think it took me a little longer than most, but I got there eventually. Let's let's talk about like, talk to me about like two or three specific moves you made to get getting clients.

And I, and I think we should talk about some of the changes you had to make if they were part of it. And that's okay if that's some bulk of it, but talk about like the specific moves you made personally. Yeah. So I've, I've done a lot of things. And I, and I, you know this too, because I think you even mentioned to me that like, Hey, I can see what you're doing and I know exactly what you're doing.

And yeah, I did that as well for about six months, you know, and I'm trying to truncate your six months into two months by telling you this, to take it with a grain of salt. And but I've done a ton of stuff. I've done. A lot of inbound marketing. I've done a lot of content marketing. I run these like.

Programs that you typically run when you're running a SAS software business or when you're running a startup. Right. And you're trying to grow product market fit, and you're trying to get people to test or you're trying to get people to buy whatever that may be. So. A lot of the same mechanics and it worked, it got me, a lot of people to talk to, and it got me a lot of people to converse with about what it is that I do and, and really gave me the opportunity to practice and then fine tune what worked and what didn't, but also more importantly, what I wanted to do and what I didn't want to do.

And I think that was one of the major things that I try to do. And then well, the second thing, and before you go to the next question. I just want to make sure that people realize though that even though that was beneficial for Bennett, you know, for data's sake, it wasn't actually the aha moment.

Like the epiphany actually happened when I did a recap of how much money I spent versus the ROI that I got from it. And a hundred percent, a hundred percent of my clients that I ended up building my business with after that six month test was all from referrals. Wow. Not a single one of them came from my inbound or outbound efforts.

Did these referrals just come in? What did you have to do?

No. I had to nurture it. Yeah. I nurtured it a lot. I I love it. I love people. And I mean, I just, I love people just right. You know, just like meeting people.

I love talking to people. I love engaging people. I'm like a serial extrovert in that sense, but I definitely worked at it. Right. And I just worked to provide value for people as much as I could, but I also put myself out there and that was very uncomfortable. Especially when You are you're it's it's, it's like you have to get over it.

I mean, maybe it's easier for other people, but for me, it's like, I've always had this like affinity for building relationships and always giving value. And then I always felt uncomfortable like saying, Hey. This is, you know, this is like something that I need your help with. And can I, can I, can I share this with you or what I'm working on?

And eventually I figured out how to say it in a way that was more true to me, and that ended up being something along the lines of like great to catch up, love what you're doing. Let me see if I can help you with what you're working on. As a favor for me. Would you mind thinking about keeping me in the back of your head and thinking about me and my services that I'm trying to employ here?

Cause I'm trying to make this work for myself and then making them an ally that kind of positioning really worked for me. And it felt natural for me and helped. And then I just kept doing that. And what ended up happening was it wasn't immediate, but it started to Plop plop me in, in people's heads, in the back of their minds.

And, and that generated two leads here. And then that came to three leads here and then eventually got to the point where I actually have, I have too many leads. I love it.

How do you maintain a feedback loop with clients?

I like to do weekly check-ins and make sure that I'm talking to at least at the very least a weekly check-in with the actual person paying me.

When and where did you first discover the power of consulting?

Well, I think it was earlier this year. I got in a funk and I was in, I was an emotional and mental state of disarray and I ended up taking to cut a long story short. I ended up taking like, Three months off and I've never not worked in, like, since I was 15 years old, I've always worked and I just, I was getting really depressed and I was having a hard time figuring out what I wanted to do next.

And it was a really weird, weird situation for me. And so I took three months off talk to the wife about it and like really did a lot of soul searching and just come to the conclusion that you know, I just. Didn't want to do the startup game anymore. I didn't want to like work 90 hours a week for the small chance that it would give me sunset money and then miss all the great years of my kids.

I have two young kids, two young girls, as you know, but there's just a lot of things that have culminated to this moment where I just didn't care what company I worked for, what my title was as, or like how much money I made it. Just like wasn't as important. It's still important, but it's just like way down there now.

And I started to realize what was important to me was, you know, My kids being there for my kids time with my kids and being healthier in mentally and physically, and being able to think, focus on things that are longer term and, and family focused, and really came down to this when he kept poking at all the different symptoms of what I was looking for.

It came down to controlling time. And then I started researching it like an operator, right. I started tackling the problem, like, okay, who is really good at controlling time. And that led me to two people that I ultimately basically started picking their brains on. One of them was you and the other one was another consultant that also makes, you know, A million dollars a year consulting, and I'm like, Holy cow, these guys are doing it and they're controlling their time and they're making good money and they're making better money than I make, and they're controlling their time.

And I just started picking you guys brains until you offered me the, the course and I, I joined the course immediately.

What makes consulting effective, or special in your view?

I needed to do what I did. I needed to work at all these different startups and I needed to hustle and, and grow and expand my experiences that way. But at this point in my life, I love what I do. I can't imagine ever going back. And it fits what I want and fits what I do.

And I feel like I have almost full control. Of my life. And now I also have the tools and the skills to. Generate income when I need it and want it. And that's a very powerful statement to be able to say, you know, like I can, you know, I can, Oh yeah, I want to build a pool.

It's just these random things that would never have been able to say, like my wife's like, how the hell are we going to pay for this? And she's trying to like, knock things off the pool. And I'm like, no, at a skate park. And then we're going to put a slide. And she was like, how are we going to pay for this?

So I'm like, I'm just gonna take a couple more clients. Like, it's like, I mean, it's not that simple, but it's literally that simple control it, you know? And it's just a really strange powerful. Thing that I think everyone needs to know if they're going to go into this that you can control once you figure it out, you can control it pretty well.

It's pretty nice.

Argue the downside of consulting. Go!

Initially it was like trying to figure out how to make it work. There's a part of you that like, can understand it and mentally, like you get the philosophies, you get the concepts mentally, but then you also have to like pay for food and like pay for like your self to live.

And so, like, I will say the first six months, especially cause I launched like a week before we shut down for the pandemic. And everyone like tightened up their wallets and purses. Like that was a terrible time to start my business. Right. But it was really scary and it, and it can be continued. It can continue to be scary because you might have a good lead flow or referral system or a good network, or you might not.

And it might come in or might come and it might go, you know, and like, for example, there's no guarantee that I'll have this many leads next year or this kind of abundance of business, you know, in the spring or whatever that may be. And so you, there is a, there's this kind of like sense of like Worry around it.

Right. Especially in the beginning, not so much as, as, as before, but it's still there. Yeah. A little bit. And that's kind of always nerve wracking because you are essentially responsible for not only providing the service to your clients, but also generating more income. Right. And generating those leads.

So you're all encompassing. The second thing is it's extremely lonely. And it's very, very weird because most people don't understand what you do. And, and it's kind of a weird thing to go through because when you're a W2, you kind of take it for granted. And then when you're a consultant, you really can't do that because you don't really have anyone that understands what you're doing or how you're doing it.

And you ended up doing it with your clients. And, or in this case, you're helping us build one through the consulting club. Right. Which is really fun. And building that comradery and that emotional Emotional connection piece. And it sounds it sounds really funny because we should be like consultants.

So we're like hard nose then in like, boom, boom, boom. We make money and we do these problems, but the reality is we're not, we're robots, we're humans. Right. And we also need, we also need love and feedback and cheerleaders and a shoulder to cry on when we lose deals, you know, and, and things like that. So it's, it's just a really lonely, it's a lonely road without, without some compatriots.

What's the most important decision you made in the last 18 months?

Moving to Texas.

How can people find you on the Internet

You can go to my website: https://www.foreveryoung.agency, or follow me on Instagram (instagram.com/youngsta).

Consulting