Six Mindset Shifts I Had to Make to Build a Six-Figure Consulting Business in My 20s

Six Mindset Shifts I Had to Make to Build a Six-Figure Consulting Business in My 20s

1. Free advice can be very expensive

Six Mindset Shifts I Had to Make to Build a Six-Figure Consulting Business in My 20s
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Ever since I was a child, I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur.

Growing up, I would sell everything I could.

In primary school, I started selling lollies to kids in the playground. I found a local wholesaler who would sell me a 24-pack of lollies for $2. I would sell each of those 24 individual packs for $2. Quite a markup.

In high school, I moved on to selling shoes, watches and headphones. Before Alibaba became mainstream, I would import knock-off headphones and G-Shock watches and sell them to my unsuspecting classmates.

I am not proud of this, but I was 15 years old after all.

I also worked at a discount sports store on the weekends and would use my staff discount to get cheaper shoes and then resell them at a markup rate.

In short, I exploited service or product arbitrage in an immature market. I am doing the same thing with my current consulting business.

I’ve found a niche very few operate within, with a high ROI. I’ve crossed the six-figure mark within 6 months of starting. In Australia, only 13.4% of businesses will make more than $100,001(before expenses).

Here are the mindset shifts I’ve had to make to build this business.

When you tell people you have your own business, they feel like this gives them the license to give you unsolicited advice.

You’ve been warned, so be prepared.

The advice-givers are usually well-meaning. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions. When people try to give you advice, learn to ignore or change the subject quickly.

One of my friends took advice from his helpful uncle Bob and it almost ruined his business. He is still recovering from the decisions he made.

Rule of thumb: only take advice from people who have achieved what you want to achieve. Ignore everything else.

If you want high-quality advice, pay for it. Hire a business coach. Take online courses. Be part of paid communities.

“The best advice and strategies aren’t free. They cost money so the competition is extremely low to implement them.”


When I quit my 9–5 job, I had to go cold turkey on receiving a regular salary.

It felt like I was coming off a heroin addiction.

I had night terrors, cold sweats and anxiety about money. My daily thoughts were consumed by a lack of salary and where my next pay cheque would come from.

When I was an employee, I would get happier when it was pay week. I even had it marked in my calendar. I would sometimes refresh my bank account to see the money go in.

The feeling of more 1s and 0s in my bank account was like shooting up.

A salary is a monthly subscription service that your employer pays to access your time and expertise.

Four months after starting my consulting business, I still haven’t paid myself a salary. But after 120 days, I’ve successfully white-knuckled the salary addiction. I no longer want to trade my time for money.

Since I’ve experienced this, I feel liberated. The promise of a regular salary no longer has a stranglehold over me. Employers can’t dangle the fish hook of a regular salary to entice me to work for them.

I work to achieve a vision, not remuneration.

Experiencing this in my 20s has set me up to be resilient if I ever wanted to start another business again.

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates and a monthly salary.” — Nassim Taleb

When you own a business, reality doesn’t care about your emotions.

When things go wrong, you can claim to be the victim. You might even have a valid argument.

But guess what?

Your business still needs to move forward.

If you have a “this is someone else’s problem” mindset, you’ll soon have a “my business is failing” problem.

Most people won’t start their own business because they can’t confront the reality that they might not be good enough. Reality is harsh. The market doesn’t lie. Your products and services might be sh*t.

But I’ve noticed that the more responsibility I’ve taken, the more I’ve seen my business grow.

I take responsibility for everything. If I have bad clients, I’ll say to myself: “I should have screened this client better” rather than “these clients are a nightmare.”

The former helps me create better systems and a more profitable business. The latter only keeps me stuck in a victim mindset.

The biggest killer of your business is not taking responsibility to keep growing it. If you aren’t moving forward, you’re going backward.

“Implementing Extreme Ownership requires checking your ego and operating with a high degree of humility. Admitting mistakes, taking ownership, and developing a plan to overcome challenges are integral to any successful team.”

— Jocko Willink

When it comes to your learning, don’t be a cheapskate.

As an entrepreneur, you need to be constantly investing in yourself to become better. Buy books, online courses, coaches, paid communities, newsletters, everything.

Leila Hermozi via Twitter

There are people 10x smarter than you who have done what you want to do, took the time to curate the knowledge into a course or book and sell it to you.

Drop your ego. Buy it and learn from them.

Once you stop learning, your business is dead.

Eric Ries defines entrepreneurship as an “approach to building self-sustaining institutions in the face of uncertainty.”

I don’t know where my business will be in a year. Hell, I don’t even know where it’ll be in six months. I’ve got a vision and a plan. But sh*t happens.

The world can change in an instant. A bat virus can lock us down for the better part of 2 years. And the market can stay irrational longer than I can stay solvent.

Most people don’t deal well with this level of uncertainty. They are trained from school to become obedient factory workers. Learn these narrow skills. Work in a job. Don’t deviate from the known path.

This journey aims to reduce uncertainty as much as possible.

As Tim Ferriss once wrote, “people will choose unhappiness over uncertainty.”

That’s why most people will stay trapped as an employee for the rest of their lives despite wanting more. They will live their lives with less uncertainty but they will die full of regret.

I’ve learned to embrace uncertainty, and reframe it as an infinite possibility.

If nothing is certain, that means anything is possible.

If everything is certain, that means only a few things are possible.

If you only see people as dollar signs, you’ve already lost.

I know people who are extreme takers. I will only ever hear from them when they want something from me. Yuck.

Justin Welsh via Twitter

They will usually start with, “can I run this idea by you?”, “can you give me feedback on this?” or “can I pick your brain?” without offering any value themselves.

It’s all about me, me, me.

Like mining for diamonds, they want to extract my knowledge and experience for free without any concern about how it impacts my time and energy.

I would happily do it the first couple of times, but after a while, I stopped making time for them. I would screen their calls and simply tell them I was too busy to chat.

Creating a transaction pays off once, but building relationships pays off for a lifetime.

They invest no time giving other people value and only take and take. They might even pull the friendship card or attempt flattery. Even yuckier.

Don’t be one of these people. People can smell selfishness from a mile away. This is the fastest way to ruin your reputation.

Your motto should be: provide value five times or more, ask once.

What the other 86.4% of small business owners don’t understand

Creating a business begins in your mind.

As Max Planck once said:

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

The amount of external business success you enjoy will rarely exceed the amount of internal work you do with your mind.

Investing in developing your mindset always pays the best dividends.

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Author: Michael Lim