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Should I be a consultant or co-founder?

Hi everyone,

So I have a bit of a dilemma. I am hearing quite a bit of variance of advice on what to do next.

Over the last 4 years, I have built a reputation and track record of building revenue within a couple of start-ups to substantial amounts (both to 8 figures).

This has given me the luxury of having options of what to do next when I decide to try something new.

The challenge I have is that I am not a developer or programmer. My skills are all in the areas of start-up sales strategy, vetting potential clients, and building scalable structures within companies.

When I bring this up to my career mentors, it is about a 50/50 split to either:
a. Join forces with a co-founder or early phase start-up
b. Become a consult and advise start-ups on moving from founder pitched to sales team driven revenue.

I would love to hear what you think.

20 Replies

Mitchell Portnoy
0
0
Mitchell Portnoy Entrepreneur
Healthcare Information Executive
Why build somebody else's dream? Typos courtesy of my iPhone
Tom Maiaroto
2
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Tom Maiaroto Entrepreneur • Advisor
Full Stack Consultant
I personally always look for advisors/consultants. The reason why is because I rarely find someone passionate about my interests to be considered a co-founder. It's far easier to do a grunt fund, give a small stake, pay cash, or exchange services than it is to say ok let's get married and split this up in a big way... I find it far more valuable to have several people to reach out to for specific answers and guidance than having one or two or more co-founders.

On the flip side. I think you might even do better by being a consultant. You free yourself up to play the field and pick and choose a bit more. When you find something you do happen to be passionate about, then maybe you can decide to jump in.
Matt Herron
0
0
Matt Herron Entrepreneur
Principal at ClearPoint Consulting
Hi Donny, I havent listed it yet, but I have an emerging opportunity you might want to look at. Site is still under construction at AdironDesign.com . You can take a look at my FD or Linkedin profile for my background. Matt Herron Adiron Design is seeking a seasoned business professional and partner. Are you an experienced MBA with a proven track record, looking for your next big thing? Are you sick and tired of high tech wunderkind pushing the next breakout social media miracle? Are you interested in a four-hour work week lifestyle? Read on. Adiron Design is a new company, playing in a low tech market, with a high tech approach. We have created a beautiful collection of limited edition, high-end outdoor furnishings, made from the finest sustainable hardwood, with a stunning design language based on an American classic- the Adirondack. Before your eyes roll into the back of your head, consider this: A large, established market with well understood distribution channels and high margins. A product line that distinguishes itself in a sea of mediocrity. Quality offshore turnkey manufacturing, with decades of experience in this category. Capital requirements fulfilled by upfront sales with traditionally long delivery cycles. Opportunities for online direct marketing to consumers and the commercial leisure industry. Once established, this is a business that can almost run itself. Youve already invested a whole minute reading this; now spend one more seeing what we mean at www.AdironDesign.com We need your skills in business development, sales and marketing, and finance to take the company to the next level. This a sweat equity position in a company that will generate cash out of the gate. We already have a great product line with broad appeal, detailed CAD designs, functional full-scale prototypes, a tier one contract manufacturer with viable pricing, a great reputation in the design community, and 30 years of experience designing consumer products for market. Together, we can succeed. Contact Matt@AdironDesign.com to get started. nubes need not apply.
Melisa Singh
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0
Melisa Singh Entrepreneur
Founder at StoryShelter
Hmm. It seems as if you could go either way. I sure wouldn't mind hiring a consultant with that sort of track-record (if I had the budget). Let me know if you'd like to build your consulting portfolio... [removed to protect privacy].
Frederic Moreau
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Frederic Moreau Advisor
Agile Business Transformer
Donny, you can go both ways at the same time, if you find a startup project that fits into your consulting work. This is what I've done over the past 2 years. It's not so easy, but if it is consistent, one activity will bring a lot to the other and vice versa... in the end it is likely that both activities will merge, creating something new which makes even more sense to you and to your market.
Derek Steve Bereit
2
0
Derek Steve Bereit Entrepreneur • Advisor
Startup founder || python neophyte, NY attorney, veteran || general counsel Nimbo || co-founder Symptomly | Techstars
Depends what you want to do with your life -- sales will benefit both your options ("sales solve everything"):

(1) Consultant: flexible, focus on one skill, focus on diverse opportunities, no ownership of day-to-day grind, low excitement, limited upside (equity), low risk tolerance, limited energy required

(2) Co-Founder: dive in, 1,000% time commitment to one company, long days and nights with your new partner(s), exhausting and frustration of launching something, satisfaction of launching something, high risk-to-reward, grind and roller-coaster, tap and build ever facet of your talent and potential talent.


Rob Gropper
0
0
Rob Gropper Entrepreneur
Director at PetHero, SPC - Member at Eastside Incubator - Principal at Tuxedo Technologies Group
i would lean toward the consultant model given that it gives you exposure (up close and in detail) to many opportunities. If you find one team that really stands out that you gel with then you can go all in. This is not unlike an EIR at a VC firm. It's much harder to do the reverse. Getting paid for your consulting work plus a small equity stake in multiple startups also spreads your down-side risk.
Corey Butler
0
0
Corey Butler Advisor
Entrepreneur, Consultant, & Web/Data Engineer
Either choice will require business development. You're either developing a new product or you are the product. A business must be built around both, but the approach for each path is very different. Ask yourself what type of hustle you have, then follow the path that best aligns with that. At the end of the day, it's a personal decision. Which option leads you to the life you want to live?
Donny Dye
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0
Donny Dye Advisor
Vice President, Platform Sales, Simpli.fi | Startup Sales Strategist | Comic Book Fan | Father
Hi everyone,

Let me first say that I am blown away by the responses. This truly is a great community.

Thank you for your insights.

Hi Frederic, It sounds like your consulting is the priority. Do you find that a good number of the start-ups you begin to work with are not full time opportunities?

Hi Rob, The EIR position was mentioned to me recently. Do you feel it would be as effective as the consultant path? Also, what is the typical background that they look for in an EIR?

Hi Tom, Thanks for perspective. Since you have worked with consultants in the past, what sort of things would you look for a consultant on in the sales strategy arena?

Thanks again everyone.
Tom Maiaroto
0
0
Tom Maiaroto Entrepreneur • Advisor
Full Stack Consultant
@Donny Sales is precisely what I've been in need of for some time. The on going pain point for me is selling licenses to companies for a product and/or custom integrations (services) specifically to corporate. Navigating those deals and agreements is a major pain point. Connecting with buyers is harder.

My latest adventures have also taken me in a MRR direction with a lower price point targeting small businesses and individuals. This probably isn't as attractive to someone in sales. Far less opportunity for commission, etc. On the up-side, connecting with buyers directly is far easier.

However, both scenarios come with a lot of intricacies and an advisor for each (maybe it's a few advisors even who happen to specialize in x, y, or z) would be very helpful.

...And of course when you're talking about a startup (a bootstrapped one at that) cash isn't always available. Commission, small amounts of equity (again remember pre-funding), these become the only thing to barter with. At least until there is funding (raised or via sales). I do like things like Clairty.fm and such where you can pay by the minute/hour for advice too. Having a couple hundred here or there for some quality info and guidance is within I think most startup's budget.

As a consultant, I myself have had plenty of people paying me by the minute/hour in a similar fashion. It'd be great to simply have one big forum (or some format) to exchange knowledge and help, but I have yet to see that work. FounderDating is quite nice though.



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