The Supporting Champions Conference 2019

16 consultancy lessons

Exactly 5 years ago Rachel Ingham and I announced Supporting Champions in this little tweet!

It’s been an amazing adventure.

Here’s a 🧵of 16 key lessons, contrasting the two worlds of being employed and running a consultancy!

– I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and have wanted to set up my own business since I graduated in ’96

– I left my dream job with an awesome team in the world’s leading performance system to do it. So it was a wrench

…but I had big reasons to move on!

– My principle drivers were 

a) to take ownership of my work

b) to see more of my family

c) to challenge myself and increase personal growth

– At 42 yo (in 2016), I focused on the vision of my 55 year old self regretting not giving a consultancy a go

– Rachel’s background in occupational psychology and as an executive coach meant that we had complementary skills

We share nearly all of the roles in our business.

16 lessons follow


1) Leaving an employed role in sport science means losing stability. 

This is the hardest part for most people ‘not knowing’. 

You swap this for control, ‘you decide’, and you get to chart your own course. This is a trade-off, as are many of the differences between employed and own business

2) You have to do it all BUT you get to do it all. Employees often focus on doing ‘your bit’ & overlook  background machinery in a company

Running a business requires you to be CEO, CMO, CFO, CIO, COO

It’s been a huge challenge but have learnt and grown far more than I imagined

3) A side hustle or PT, means you can hack away, but often lacks pace & intensity that comes from going all-in. 

Going all-in means you’re more likely to make it happen, but means it’s often all-consuming. 

Just knowing there isn’t a perfect way calms the questions in your head

4) To wake up every day and chose your work is inspiring, purposeful and energising. 

This is a trade off with facing infinite possibilities, decisions and constant prioritisation – all of which matter to your income.

5) Pricing yourself and your products is never easy. 

The best advice I ever received was – you can charge whatever you like and i use the full range and don’t apologise for this

My gratis work is for charity and causes that matter – the rest is based on the value I bring.

6) ‘Creating’ must be balance with ‘selling’. 

Selling is often a dirty word, but in elite sport I was constantly conversing, persuading, debating, influencing. 

Selling an idea and a solution is no different than selling your speeches, coaching, team development, courses.

7) Employees exchange time, expertise for money – but you just don’t get to always chose what for. 

Don’t forget that when you run a consultancy you are doing the same transaction and should be a strong guardian of your worth.

8) Not everything will work in your business, just as not every idea of yours lands in a company meeting. 

Balancing risk & return is important for you to keep the business on an even keel. 

Investing in developing assets and IP with a high return is key. Reflect & learn fast.

9) Focus on adding value. 

This is the single most empowering focus we’ve taken. 

Not knowing how content is received can be dispiriting, but with a purpose to help just 1 person at 1 moment in the future motivates and inspires us to create value

10) We’ve supported countless people who have been made redundant or had to move on from a company they had huge loyalty for. 

Your loyalty can be to a company but not blindly above that to your families and their future.

11) When running your own business the culture you work in is down to you. 

Your personal values and orienting business decisions about how you work and who you work with need constant thought.

(I’ve turned down 6 figure contracts because it undermined my values)

12) Early on, you are likely to be held back more by what you imagine people think, not what they actually think. 

Tune in to what you believe, your purpose and the people and voices you trust.

13) When you can, invest in the things you’re not very good at or that you find the hardest, e.g. an accountant, marketing. 

Don’t do this early, you still need to know what is going on in those areas

14) Your network and your networking skills are the greatest source of work. 

For those people who don’t like connecting, collaborating or find communicating a chore, think twice about your own consultancy.

15) Regardless of income, seeing my family more, my children growing up, being at home more is the true wealth I’m on this planet for.

16) I believe the world of work is changing rapidly with more people needing to take ownership of their income, finances, IP and future. 

I think learning the mechanics of running a business will probably make you a better employee and might just come in handy later in life

If you found this useful, let me know and I will create more content about setting up your own business (DMs are open)

If you’re really keen on starting your own consultancy you might like to take a look at our “Setting up your own consultancy course. Take a look at this course can help you…