In 2008 I experienced for the first time being terminated from an executive position. Four months later, after dozens of job applications and numerous networking meetings, I could no longer handle not being engaged with businesspeople full time and decided to pursue consulting.
Not knowing much about this profession, I did some research; I scheduled appointments with a few consultants I ran into during networking, I read articles, and searched on the internet for other consultants to talk to.
To my surprise, I didn’t find any consultants in the local area on the internet.
I did find large firms in other parts of the country, however, none in my region. So, I kept networking. Nearly every event I went to, I met a consultant. I quickly realized one of the main ingredients to be successful in this new profession as a consultant is to be found, and networking was the single most important marketing I could do. It was at this point I started wondering if a site that housed consultants for the market, like dating sites, would be a viable business.
Shortly after my research began, I secured my first consulting gig – a client needing my skills and abilities in sales and marketing for a nine-month period of time. At the conclusion, I recalled the thoughts of a website to assist consultant networking, and began developing a business plan to surround this vision with more thoughts and ideas. While I believed it, I didn’t trust myself and the idea enough to do anything further beyond a paper plan. So on the shelf the draft plan went. The platform to connect companies and consultants would have to wait.
In 2011, I was hired by a firm that allowed me the opportunity to obtain my MBA. I chose as my culminating project the area of consulting and leveraging the work I had done in previous years to flush out a real business plan. It was a great plan, so much so that I invested in having the site developed. I spent hours creating a wireframe using PowerPoint, developed a robust Request for Proposal, followed by posting it on elance website for developers. After reviewing numerous proposals, I hired a team that hit the sweet spot between confidence of capability and cost.
I worked as a VP during the day, and at night I was working on a platform that would change the consulting world forever.
I even came up with a clever name that had meaning – akatal.com. Katal is a measure of catalytic conversion, which is exactly what a consultant ought to be – a catalyst for change. Since that URL was taken, I added the letter “a”, thus akatal.com. Balancing full-time employment and building the foundation of akatal.com, I was easily working 80 hours a week.
The company eliminated my regional position and poured more time to spend on akatal.com while consulting to bring in the bacon. Balancing between looking for consulting opportunities and working on akatal, I reached a point where I needed more consistent revenue. I searched for full time employment and landed a CEO position that pretty much eliminated any time to spend on the website. So akatal, a fully developed site sat idle once again – for 4 years.
At the end of 2017, the owner took over the CEO position. I jumped back into consulting, as well as picked up work as an expert witness. After discussing with my wife and praying about the career pattern of helping owners turn their business around, only to be on the outside looking in after a period of time, we decided to invest in the website business and consult full time to allow the freedom to work on akatal. Honestly, to not seek full-time employment was scary, and to expend time and money to upgrade the website was even scarier. Yet the Lord blessed our decision, to the point that we had the best financial income ever in 2018– all while investing time and money into the consulting website platform.
One of the most important lessons I learned at this stage of restarting akatal was to not hold on too tight to what I thought, to take heed of advice.
And the advice I kept getting was to change the name from akatal to something that people could say, recall, and ideally be a reference in some way to what the site is all about. Honestly, this was hard for me to do; I was emotionally charged and passionate about this cool, unique name that had significant meaning. But it only had meaning to me. So, after a lot of searching, asking, pondering, and prayer, I came up with ConsultantDeck.com. It was easy to say, recall, and associated with what the site is all about; a deck of consultants (like cards), the top deck (of an aircraft carrier), or consultants on deck (as in baseball). After hiring a designer and not really liking anything they created, Ron of Amplify Group, a close friend of mine and business advisor, presented me with the idea for what is now the logo. Another lesson learned; I can’t do this on my own, and need advisors and others that believe in me and the vision to come alongside me. I formed an advisory board right away.
I am so thankful for wise counsel, gifted and inspiring friends, the support of my family and loved ones, and most especially the grace of God. For without this support, ConsultantDeck.com would never have launched.
Thank you for considering joining our ConsultantDeck community. My hope and prayer is that we help companies realize the value of a consultant, to select just the right consultant that will make a difference, and to aide consultants by giving them visibility in the marketplace to allow them to do what they are uniquely gifted to do.
Rick Campfield, Founder of Consultant Deck