From the Zoo to the Wild: from consultant to entrepreneur - Vantik
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From the Zoo to the Wild: from consultant to entrepreneur

It’s been almost a year since I left BCG to start my own venture. A good time to reflect. Honestly, it feels more like five years rather than only one. It was one of the most intense and one of the best years of my life. Not for a second have I regretted my decision to quit my job as consultant and to become an entrepreneur. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my job as a consultant, I did it for 15 years. It was just the right time for me to start something on my own. Many people have asked me since what is different being a BCG Partner vs. a start-up founder.

Decide vs. advice

As a consultant you prepare, trigger and support multiple important decisions but you never take them. As an entrepreneur, you have to take dozens of critical decisions every day. And to become a successful entrepreneur you need to take significant risk, always challenge yourself and go beyond the obvious with every single decision.

No more bullshit

As a consultant, I was proud to be known for having a “no bullshit” attitude … looking back, I wasted so much time with — internal and external — politics, in endless meetings or talking to the wrong people (often superiors or so-called experts). As entrepreneur with limited resources you need to get rid of all that as you cannot afford to waste any time or money. Now, I really consider myself having a “no bullshit” attitude.

A slide is no action

As a young start-up, it is all about getting things done as efficient and as fast as possible. Large slide decks don’t help to solve any problem. A spreadsheet, a whiteboard drawing or sometimes simply writing it down is often a much better option. In fact, presentations are only needed for investors … but talking to such without slides works pretty well also.

Smart is not enough

When recruiting your team, you quickly realize that you need to recruit not only the smartest people in the world but also the best available experts in their field. Smart is not enough to design an outstanding user experience, acquire new customers and build a best in class product.

Passion instead of career

When a start-up intends to solve a real problem (not just copy it), you soon meet incredible people who share your vision. These people work with passion rather than for a career or money. In consulting people are super ambitious and motivated. But it does make a big difference working in a team that is really passionate about solving a real problem and creating something big.

Jeans without tie

I have been wearing a suit and a tie for more than 15 years. And I can tell you that it has been one of the most pleasant changes going to work in jeans and sneakers. A tie is not required to get respected. I am now working with some of the smartest people I have ever met who do not even own a tie.

Ending the email terror

Also, my communication has changed completely. While most of my former colleagues and clients still complain about too many emails, I only have a few per day. All internal communication, and that usually is the bulk, is now on Slack. Instead of being cc’ed on hundreds of emails, I can easily follow all important conversations on the respective Slack channels.

Different, not better

There are also some things that are just different. Docs, Sheets and Slides are definitely not better than Word, Excel and PowerPoint. But they’re for free! On the other hand a cool Mac is a must — of course. Maybe I am already too old, but the transition was a bit painful. And sometimes I still don’t know, how the f* …

From 1A to 32b

There are also more things you need to get used to. On an airplane, you sit on 32b instead of 1A. Instead of a Limousine for €100 you take the bus for €2,80 from the airport to the office. You stay at a dodgy AirBnB not at the Ritz. But after some time you don’t miss it anymore (actually most of the time). Instead you develop new “hobbies”, like scoring the cheapest flight.

From Zoo to Wild

In a nutshell, there is a huge difference between consultant and entrepreneur. When I left BCG, a friend sent me a message: “No more petting zoo, welcome to the wild”. He was damn right.

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Til Klein

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