How & Why I Started My Business
This excerpt was taken from an interview that I did in August of 2016. It is about my story of how I evolved from a moonlight freelance consultant to a full-time consulting company owner**
Today’s Work-At-Home Success Profile is on Joshua Schall from J. Schall Consulting. Joshua Schall is an executive-level sports nutrition CPG, fitness, and sports brand strategist. He holds a BBA in Accounting and MBA from Kent State University. Since graduation he has had years of marketing, brand development, and operational efficiency experience at world-leading organizations. He has successfully lead major consumer packaged goods companies in developing strategic brand plans, new product launches, multi-channel promotions, and dynamic retail initiatives that enhanced market share. He is an inspiring manager and strong cross-functional team leader with ultimate goal of creating powerfully disruptive, billion-dollar lifestyle brands.
1) How did you get started working from home?
I started working from home initially in the “moonlight” hours after my “9–5 job.” This initially was mainly because I had a strong desire to gain a greater scale and scope of knowledge in a passion industry. I realized early in my career that I had the capacity to handle longer hours and still feel engaged and inspired to do great work. This “moonlighting” went on for about 3 years until I decided to quit my executive position at a sports nutrition brand and start a management consulting company that would be focused on CPG companies operating in the fitness, health, and sports spaces.
2) How did you choose the work-at-home career you do?
I would say the work chose me because I had always been interested in fitness, health, and sports but my initial career choice was more focused on financial and operational analysis. I was working in industries like technology and automotive, that were challenging, but not engaging for my brain at the time. That drove me to seek that engagement desire and I made an important personal strategic choice to start networking in the fitness industry. This gave me the opportunity to communicate how my educational and early professional background could be utilized for consumer brands in their industry. It initially landed me a Director role at a hyper growth sports nutrition CPG brand but it ultimately lead me to starting J. Schall Consulting.
3) How did you get started (basic initial steps)?
I got started with attending trade shows and industry expos focusing on networking in the fitness industry. Though it is a multi-billion dollar industry, it is very small in terms of influencers. I was also to understand the system so I could focus my energy on areas that I believe I could add value and impact. I tend to look for ways to reverse engineer or “hack” a system because that is how my brain works for executing on long term or complex projects.
4) How did you get your first client or customer or job?
The first clients I worked with were from those networking connections that I made during the infancy-stage of my career. It took me a great deal of time to work from adding value for “free” (yes I said free) to getting paid as a business consultant. I used that time working for free (technically for free product) to learn new skills and knowledge of business practices, management styles, and branding strategies. I always advise young aspiring people trying to get their skills sharpened to do the same thing. Normally a company will not say no to you if you are adding value for free. After the project, you have leverage to start negotiating for some type of monetary payment.
5) How do you market your business?
I market my business currently through mostly content marketing, social media, and business networking. I am not big on cold emails or calls because the type of work that I do is a professional service that usually has longer engagements that require trust. Content marketing is my primary marketing source because I believe its the best way to give voice to my company’s services and gain trust. It also allows me to be provide free content that could add value to existing and future clients. I am a big proponent of giving away knowledge for free because in the long run it supplies you with much more rewarding and rich opportunities.
6) What does your usual day look like?
My usual day consists waking up a bit later than the normal businessperson (9am) because I am usually a late worker. After getting up, I head in to the kitchen to have a healthy breakfast and start reading over my emails to prep for any reactive situations. After breakfast, I usually sit down and go through my goals list for the day and add any reactive situations to the list that require immediate attention. I usually work through the list throughout the day and stop every 90 minutes or so to give myself a break. I have read a lot on a productivity hack called the Pomodoro technique that basically gives structure to break up your day. During those breaks, I will walk around, check social media, or eat a small snack. At about 6pm, I will break for dinner and relax until I head to the gym around 8pm. After my workout, I usually “plug back in” and work on anything remaining on my goals list until about midnight. Finally, I usually relax before bed by reading a business book or articles on my iPhone.
7) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
The biggest thing I wish I knew now that I didn’t when I started almost four years ago would be to enjoy the process and luxuries of working from home provide. Though I can take whatever breaks or vacations I choose, I had always beat myself up in the earlier days because I felt like I needed to outwork everyone 24/7. After years of super long hours, I realized that taking reflection and relaxation time is absolutely needed to stay creative and passionate in your work.
8) What advice would you give someone who wants to work from home?
The advice that I would give someone looking to work from home is to start something at night after your “9–5 job.” This will give you a great idea if you can handle the self-motivation and focus you need to succeed at working from home. If you think you don’t have time to work after work, take an inventory of how you spend those hours now. I can guarantee that many of those hours are spent watching TV or wasting them doing other meaningless things. Cut out a few hours over the week and see if you enjoy it working on your own work projects. Just make sure you enjoy it and its not just for the money.