2013 reflections and lessons on launching a consultancy while balancing other responsibilities

2013 will go down as one my most exhilarating and intense years of my life. Starting my own communications consulting company has been a career goal for many years, and I am delighted to be in the position to finally go for it.

2013 in review

Getting a company off the ground, as any entrepreneur can attest to, requires an incredible amount of time and dedication. I can certainly vouch for this.

Over the past year, I have – to the best of my abilities – juggled the responsibilities of carrying out my day-to-day role as director of public relations at Duke’s business school, while then spending early mornings, late nights, weekends and vacations getting my consultancy off the ground. On top of this, I have tried, sometimes unsuccessfully, to balance the most important aspects of life, such as family and faith.

I am just starting out – there are surely many great resources and examples of people who’ve already done this. Regardless, I thought I would share a few lessons I’ve learned on launching a new company while maintaining other responsibilities.

1. Take advantage of existing networks. I have been fortunate  work with many great people in different parts of the work who really want the best for me and want to see me obtain my goals. These individuals have provided invaluable insights, advice and leads.

2. Leverage virtual networks. I have been floored by the generosity of people who I never met in person, but who graciously took time to speak with me after I had reached out to them.

3. Reality test ideas, attain distance, widen options and put in place safeguards. In the throes of weighing the pros and cons of starting my own business or staying put in my role, I was fortunate to hear a talk at Duke University by Dan Heath, author of Decisive. Dan and his brother Chip researched how companies and individuals can improve their decision-making. Among their key points: widen your options, reality test your ideas, attain distance and put in place safeguards to keep you from going down the wrong path for too long. I tried to follow this formula to a tee, and am confident I have made the right decision. Regardless of the initiative you may be launching or a decision you might be facing, this book is a must read!

4. Have the support and buy-in of your most important stakeholder group – family. This should probably be obvious, but needs to be mentioned. The demands on the aspiring entrepreneur have a direct impact on family, and their support and understanding is critical.

I hope that 2013 provided you with many valuable career lessons. Happy 2014!