Srećko worked as a consultant at McKinsey for several years before founding his own company. With Movemeon he talks about this experience and also gives valuable tips from a venture partner’s perspective, for consultants who are also thinking about starting their own company.
You have been a Consultant yourself and left McKinsey in 2019. What skill that you learned in consulting have you found most powerful outside consulting?
It’s funny because it’s one I didn’t realise during my consulting days. It is what I call “blissful ignorance”: the idea that you can go into a meeting knowing 0 about a specific topic but by asking the right questions and structuring the problem get to the gist. Obviously, you need the brainpower, but for me it’s more the confidence in one’s abilities than it is about problem solving per se.
What’s your top tip for people considering leaving consulting and what do they most need to be aware of?
It’s being wary of what kind of colleagues give you energy. Consulting is very different from other jobs in that regard. You don’t need to manage people who are insanely motivated and keep pushing all the time – you guide them. However, 70% of work in other jobs is actually not only leading, but also motivating others. I have met many who got into leadership positions and then realized: Hey, I actually don’t enjoy this. They rather enjoy small, intimate settings that focus on outputs, not people management.
“…when I returned my key card, I remember feeling like somebody ripped out a part of my soul. But 2 days later I just realised – nothing has changed.”
What’s the biggest shock / surprise on leaving consulting?
The realisation that my life keeps on, and that all my friends are still there. Consulting is such a big part of one’s life that it almost becomes a part of your identity. It sounds stupid, but when I returned my key card, I remember feeling like somebody ripped out a part of my soul. But 2 days later I just realised – nothing has changed. And many new doors have opened for me.
You now work in the Venture space and have a lot of interactions with founders. How many of those would you say have a Consulting background?
Certainly a high number. Many of the best founders I have interacted with are former consultants, but it’s often those who experienced failure, or who worked for a start-up after consulting life, who turn to become amazing entrepreneurs. I usually recommend most people to join a venture before they found their own. Trust me, life will get a lot easier.
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Why do you think so many consultants become founders? What consulting skills do you think are helping them?
Part of the reason is that people who go into consulting in the first place are often overachievers and strive for change. They then get into this big machine that teaches them many things, like problem solving, top-down communication, execution, and project management. In the end, you often get to someone who is a commercial allrounder with the right mindset and work ethic, something that is much needed in founding teams.
Can you think of any habits from consulting that might be a blocker in the start-up world?
Consultants are paid to find mistakes. It takes a big mindset shift to get past this habit of always overanalyzing, always finding flaws, always thinking why it cannot work – but instead focusing on why it can work, and just starting to do it. It is actually really tough to master “conviction” – to see the risks and drawbacks, but still have faith and pursue it even if the odds are against you. In some way, you can be too smart for your own good.
“Don’t start like a consultant would: by creating a long list of alternatives you weigh. Instead, start with what you are good at or passionate about and zoom in here.”
What tips would you give a current consultant looking to found their own business?
Don’t start like a consultant would: by creating a long list of alternatives you weigh. Instead, start with what you are good at or passionate about and zoom in here. Talk to others, especially customers, about this. Whatever that is, there are many things to be build. Find complementary people when it comes to skills and character. And then just take the leap of faith. Remember, most people never pick up the phone, and most people never get started.
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