I started a podcast. It's called 0-100 and you can find it at nollaviivasata.fi. The show is about how to start your own digital consultancy or agency. In it I interview founders of different Finnish agencies (in Finnish) and ask them how they got started on their journey and how they grew their company during the early years. In this post, I want to discuss why I started recording these interviews in the first place.
As a developer working with software consultancies (first at Kisko Labs and now at Wunderdog), I've overheard and sometimes participated in conversations about growth and strategy in the context of a consulting company. Some of the most interesting questions tend to be how to find better projects and how to transition from a vendor to a trusted advisor in the eyes of your client. At home, often inspired by a discussion at the office, I have tried to find more advice or opinions online (or for example from podcasts) to no avail. There's a plethora of great material provided by generous people from product startups. But when it comes to consultancies and agencies, it's much harder to find advice from seasoned entrepreneurs.
Whenever you do find people discussing consulting, often the advice seems to boil down to "do great work and the rest will follow." Doing great work is critical – I'm not denying that. But there has to be more to how to build a successful consultancy, hasn't there? Many times I have wanted to just walk into the offices of one of our "competitors" and ask them how they do X and have they ever considered Y.
Well, with this podcast I can do just that. There hasn’t really been anything stopping me to reach out to other consultancies for advice but I also feel like it’s something that just isn’t done. Can you really as a stranger get an hour from someone’s busy day for your inquiries? Probably not. However, if you promise to record the meeting and put it out for everyone else to also hear, it’s a different story. Strangely enough people will now give their time. Or even contact you and offer it voluntarily.
Let’s talk about the general topic of the episodes: Why focus on founding stories? Am I planning to start my own consultancy? No (or at least not in the foreseeable future). So why do I ask my interviewees how to start a consultancy instead of how to run one? The reason why in my interviews I ask about how did you get your first customer as opposed to how do you currently get your customers is that discussing current tactics can be uncomfortable to some and therefore lead to overly abstract discussions about sales and marketing. In addition, when we discuss stories from the past, I can make sure that the interviews won't only be about ideas but also about tactics that were tested in the real world.
I believe that even established consultancies can discover new ways of approaching different business opportunities when they get to hear how other founders kick-started their businesses with different offerings and different client bases. I do hope you get a chance to listen to an interview or two. You can find the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts or wherever you listen to podcasts by searching for "nolla viiva sata." While the episodes are in Finnish, I will write (in English) about lessons learned later on this blog.