If you ever daydream about quitting your job, then this is the episode for you! You will learn how to turn your experience into a consulting business. I am joined by Amy Rasdal, founder of Billable at the Beach. Amy rose to the top of the ranks as a corporate CEO and spent years building technology startups, until she had to lay herself off from one of her businesses. It was then she learned the brilliance behind consulting. She grew her own business as a consultant, and now she teaches others how to do the same. Listen in to Episode #99 of the Second Act Success Career Podcast if you want to learn how to be "billable" at the beach and make money while living a life you love.
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Second Act Success Career Podcast
Season 1 - Use Your Expertise To Start A Consulting Business with Amy Rasdal
Episode - #99
Host: Shannon Russell
Guest: Amy Rasdal
Transcription (*created by Descript and may not be perfectly accurate)
[00:00:00] Amy Rasdal: No matter where any of us are and whether we're really consciously focused on our second act, all of us. Have to take control of our careers now. we all have to own our paths now and figure out what that means.
[00:00:14] Shannon Russell: Hey you. Are you feeling stuck, desperate for a career change or thinking of starting a business but you're just not sure how to make your first move? I'm television producer, turn Career coach Shannon Russell, and this is the second Act Success Career podcast. This is where you will not only get the career advice you've been craving, but you'll get tips from career and business.
Experts along with inspiration from others who have made a career transition to find second act success. Let's get started.
Welcome to the Second Act Success Career Podcast, my friend it's Shannon and I am thrilled that you've chosen to spend just part of your day with me. Now do you ever daydream about quitting your job? [00:01:00] How about lounging on the beach, reading a good book while still getting paid.
I know I have. Today, we will be talking about how to turn your corporate experience into a consulting career. I am joined by Amy Rasdal founder of Billable at the Beach.
Amy Rose to the top of the ranks as a corporate CEO. And then she broke free to find flexibility as a consultant. Making even more money. Then she did in her in-house roles.
Now she teaches others how to do the same and she is going to share her advice with us today. So let me bring in Amy and we will get started.
[00:01:38] Shannon Russell: I am here with Amy Rasdal. Amy hi. Welcome to the podcast.
[00:01:43] Amy Rasdal: Good morning. Thanks for having
[00:01:44] Shannon Russell: me. I'm excited to chat with you. I love the name of your business, Billable At The Beach.
[00:01:50] Amy Rasdal: But where are you right now? I'm in San Diego, so I really am Billable At
[00:01:55] Shannon Russell: The Beach. Fantastic.
I can't wait to get all into it, but [00:02:00] let's start back at the beginning. Where did you begin
[00:02:02] Amy Rasdal: your career? I refer to myself as a silicon kid because I grew up in Silicon Valley, so I was always surrounded by technology and startups, and honestly, I didn't really even realize there was anything else.
I didn't realize that people's parents did anything other than technology startups. I started out as a software engineer. I wrote code for a few years and then went to business school. Out of business school. I, did some time in marketing. I spent time in product development. I lucked my way into medical devices, so Life Sciences is really big in San Diego.
And my long-term career goal at that point, I really wanted to rule the world, right? I wanted to be a technology startup, c e o. So I was systematically building all my cross-functional experience, moving higher and higher up the chain to the executive level, getting all that [00:03:00] experience. I eventually jumped off and started doing startups. Venture funding, bootstrapping, all that kind of stuff. Eventually I got to a place
in one of the startups, as often happens in startups, we were going great guns. We were making so much money, we had so much business. And then suddenly something in the external environment, the economic environment changed+
[00:03:26] Amy Rasdal: And I found myself, high enough a. up in the company that I laid myself off.
So at least I knew the layoff was coming, but we couldn't afford to pay me anymore. So, you know, I had to cut my own position and paycheck. At that point I jumped off and started my own consulting business. I didn't really do that intentionally. I was looking for my next job.
I wanted the right job, the right company, and I think the most important thing to me then was the right team. By then I realized what I think a [00:04:00] lot of us realized when we're getting to our second and third and even more ax, depending how many we have.
People become as important as the company and all of those things, the people and who you work with is so important. And so I was being really careful and choosy. Well, what happened is a con consulting project fell into my lap. It was 20 hours a week for three months, and I thought, this is perfect.
This will pay some of the bills. While I'm looking for that really, Perfect thing, right? We all know that no perfect thing exists, but I'm really, trying to be choosy and diligent and I got five or six weeks into that consulting project and I said, cancel the job search.
This is the life. I'm now a consultant and I have never looked back.
[00:04:47] Shannon Russell: What do you think it was Amy about being a consultant and owning your own business that made you want to continue down that path?
[00:04:54] Amy Rasdal: The things that I really loved about having my own business and, and I know that you've made a similar [00:05:00] kind of transition, honestly. Freedom, flexibility, control, interesting work, better pay. So I think one of the mistakes that people sometimes think having your own consulting business or maybe having your own business, is that if you're gonna have all these great lifestyle opportunities that you have to give up pay, and you don't, you, you can decide and you can actually make more money than you were making at your corporate job.
[00:05:33] Shannon Russell: Very true. I agree. Well, how did you grow consulting into a full-blown business?
[00:05:39] Amy Rasdal:
I'm a big believer in serendipity.
Things kind of fall into place, but we always really have to have our eyes open and be paying attention so that we can take advantage of the serendipity that comes along. Right? That consulting project, I wasn't looking to be a consultant. It literally, I [00:06:00] fell into my lap and I thought, well, why not?
It seems like the perfect thing. And that changed the whole trajectory of my career. And then what started happening is everyone could see that I was so energized and loving having my own consulting business, that they would say, you know, Amy, I've been thinking about starting my own consulting business.
Could we talk. I was really good at getting things done, implementation and execution. So in my consulting business, I was doing a lot of startup work. And I am really the right hand man of that visionary genius startup who couldn't actually do anything without someone like me.
So I'm that doer. I lease the building, I hire the team, I help raise the money. I, do all that stuff. I love the doing and I'm super organized.
[00:06:52] Shannon Russell: Okay. So you're there helping this startup visionary
actually take an idea across the finish line, and now others are [00:07:00] seeing the value that you bring and they're wanting your advice as well.
[00:07:03] Amy Rasdal: My friend would say, Hey, can we talk? And I would think, Well, okay, how can I be useful?
How can I serve my friend? What do I love? What do I hate? What do I wish I would've known?
I was starting to accumulate a body of material cuz I really was thinking, how can I help my friends start this business?
And then one of the things that you realize if you have a consulting business is that. I wasn't selling medical devices anymore. I'm selling my time. Now, it doesn't matter if you're billing by the hour or the project or retainer, I'm still selling my time as a consultant and it's super valuable. So I learned that I had to hold myself accountable for all of my hours.
So as these people started to be, My brother's wife, sister's, best friend's college roommate. It became really difficult to track that time to revenue
[00:07:58] Shannon Russell: So you found yourself [00:08:00] getting busier, helping others. Launch their own consulting businesses.
And that is how a Billable at the Beach was born.
[00:08:06] Amy Rasdal: At this point I'm doing Billable at the Beach full-time and not doing hands-on consulting anymore, it started out 10 or 15 years ago as an offline one-on-one program, now I've moved it all online. I have an online course, I have group coaching. I can take it from, I. Meeting at Starbucks with people here in San Diego to really having a global reach. My second acts have just been really more a series of little steps.
[00:08:36] Shannon Russell: Could you have ever imagined back when you were trying to climb the the ladder in Silicone Valley, in that whole corporate world, that you would be running a business like this and helping other people to create their own businesses?
[00:08:50] Amy Rasdal: No, and what's interesting is that I have a daughter now who's in her second year of college,
So, you know, I'm talking to her about her career and [00:09:00] No, because I really thought I was gonna rule the world as a startup, c e o. But now what I've realized is that I'm not ruling the world, but I'm really ruling my world and now I'm helping other people who wanna do the same thing, so I'm not.
Running a 500 million corporation, but I'm really able to help so many other people determine what they want their careers to look like, and I love that. And you
[00:09:28] Shannon Russell: have your balance. It's on your terms. So think about the stress level of A C E O running a huge company like that, and you being your own c e o, running your business.
Like there's no
[00:09:40] Amy Rasdal: comparison. A really good friend of mine finally got his c e o title. And I was so excited for him. But I felt, not the slightest bit of remorse that wasn't me.
I felt like. Oh, thank goodness that's not me. I remember early in my corporate career, long before I [00:10:00] had kids, I remember a very distinct experience. It was just a few years into the corporate world, and our C F O was a woman.
She was amazing. She had two tiny little boys at home and I saw her in the lobby of the company with her suitcase on October 30th, and I said, oh, where are you off to? She said, oh, we have this big disaster. I have to fly to Washington, DC and meet with the F D A.
And I thought she's gonna miss Halloween with her little boys. And even though I was still pretty young at that time, I've never forgotten that kind of like sick feeling in my stomach. And at that moment I thought, I don't ever wanna do that. And now that I have one in college, I realize how fast it goes.
I've had my own consulting business the whole time of having kids, and it hasn't always been easy to make all those choices, but they've been mine to make and that's [00:11:00] been everything.
[00:11:01] Shannon Russell: Everything. Yeah, I've mentioned this on the show before, but I was working in television and it was my first son's first birthday that I missed.
Cause I was shooting in South by Southwest in, in Texas and I remember sobbing and sobbing and everyone said he is not gonna remember. But it was just to me, the start of what I would have to miss down the road. Yeah. And, and that was, I was already thinking I don't know if this is me, these hours is travel and, and having a family.
and it was soon afterwards that I switched since when I had my second and said, Nope, I wanna be more present and I don't want to feel like I'm choosing work over the kids and sometimes working in these high profile positions like you had and I had. don't have the choice. You have to go where they want you to go, and you have to work the hours that they want.
And I think being a business owner, And a mom is just the most flexibility that you can have. And, [00:12:00] and we work long hours and we deal with our clients. Yes. But there's more of a balance than when you're, reporting to the board or the
[00:12:08] Amy Rasdal: corporate. Well, and just having that choice. But I think the important thing is you don't have to give up your career and you don't have to trade whatever it is that's important to you.
Impact. Satisfaction. Pay flexibility. You can choose. I mean, I laugh. I've done, conference calls from Disneyland. I can tell you like you buy your child one of those giant lollipops. And you go down in a little corner restaurant, not right at lunchtime, and like you break the mommy rules and you just give them that giant lollipop that's gonna give you 40 minutes, you know?
And yeah. But those stories are so fun, but again, it's still a great career and for me, instead of having [00:13:00] that, C-suite position at the corporation. I go in there as a consultant, and they actually listen to me much more now as a consultant than they did when I was the vice president of operations.
[00:13:45] Shannon Russell: You had the experience. You worked in those companies. You ruled the world for as long as you wanted to rule it. Right. And then, You had that experience and then being hired as a consultant was something you weren't expecting. And then you're like, oh, so now I can [00:14:00] work and get paid using my experience that I've taken from the corporate world.
And I find that so interesting because when I work with my clients as a career coach, I. Say, okay, well let's take that experience you've had because you know our life is a resume, it's not just you use it up to this point and then you change jobs and all of that goes away. Now it's just still a part of you, and now you get to use that in a different way.
I could have left television and become a consultant or open a production company. I switched completely into, you know, a different business, two businesses now, but. I could have done it a different way, but I still use my skills and experience in growing my companies. So I find it really interesting and I do wanna get into what a consultant really is.
Cause I feel like people throw that around. What is the definition of a consultant to you and kind of what you see it as?
[00:14:55] Amy Rasdal: Yeah, so I think everyone has a slightly different version and [00:15:00] a consultant Is going in and helping a company. In my case, I'm not a career coach. I help people do something very specific, but I think that when we find that perfect intersection that uses the skill sets that we're the best at, and that we really have the experience in.
What we love to do and what the market will pay for. And to the extent that we can maximize those things.
For me, I help people do consulting for oftentimes the corporations that they left. So, and sometimes it's easier to think about what a consultant's not. I think it's different than a coach. And this is just kind of the way I view it, so you can give me your view of a coach too, since you do more of that.
A coach, doesn't do the work, they help you figure out how to do the work. So consulting does involve some aspects of that, but usually a consultant goes in and does some of the work to get started. [00:16:00] For me, a consultant is a superhero with a superpower making super pay.
It's not for me fractional work. That to me is part a part-time job. Now, it might be a very high level, part-time job, but to me, superhero superpower super pay. You go in, you fill a gap, you do a special project. I did a lot of, sort of crisis work. So a company was trying to get a new product out the door and it just wasn't happening.
I'm very good at coming in and figuring out what's going on. Is it the technology, is it the market, , is it the resources? Just really digging in and getting my hands really into the muck and figuring out what's going on. And I believe that a consultant's job is to get in there and do that.
3, 6, 9, 12, 18 [00:17:00] months and then get out. Okay? You're not supposed to stay there and take on operational day-to-day activities over the long term. You may do that for a while to get the systems, the procedures, the team, all the stuff in place, and really get it into a fine tuned machine, but then your job is to go away.
[00:17:20] Shannon Russell: Sometimes when you're in a project, you're so in the thick of it that having a, a consultant come in is really going to help see maybe that broken piece that the employees can't see.
[00:17:31] Amy Rasdal: Yes, or bring a skillset that doesn't exist, or maybe there's a skillset that just needs to come in for a shorter period of time and then get out. But you're not supposed to stay there. A really interesting thing is becoming indispensable to day-to-day operations is sort of a death knell for a consultant. So it sounds really strange.
But I have and now teach specific strategies to prevent job [00:18:00] offers. Nothing ends a good consulting relationship faster than a job offer because If you turn it down, then you're probably done with that client because they've proposed to you and you've turned it down and you've sort of hurt their feelings in a way.
You know? So it changes your relationship. You need to prevent that proposal. And if you take it then. All that. Freedom, flexibility, superhero, superpower, super pay. Then you end up in a job, and I have watched so many of my consultant friends, it's so easy to be attracted to that because it feels like stability.
[00:18:40] Shannon Russell: But then you're back to where you started. Exactly. The thing that you're trying to get away from.
[00:18:45] Amy Rasdal: Exactly. It's a magnetic pull.
As soon as I get them in my program, we immediately launch into the top 10 things to know. And one of those is, It's counterintuitive to think prevent job [00:19:00] offers, right? I've spent my whole life trying to find good jobs. That seems crazy, but no, and I have specific strategies to prevent that, and it sounds crazy, but now it's like, oh, okay, that makes sense, right?
Once I start talking about it, you said, okay, yeah, that makes sense. Like you're right back where you didn't wanna be in that pit.
[00:19:20] Shannon Russell: And as a consultant, you're making more than that person who is staff you've got the flexibility and you're getting your views across.
You're being respected and heard a little bit more than if you were just another team member. When you began your consulting career, you got your first offer to do your first consulting job,
were you just saying, I want to consult, here's all of my skills of what I did in corporate and kind of looking for work that way? Or was it
[00:19:45] Amy Rasdal: more word of mouth? I made all a mistake, Shannon. I made all the mistakes, right? And now that I've worked, with so many people, I see people making the same mistakes over and over again because it's not necessarily [00:20:00] intuitive.
The first project fell into my lap, and then I had done, like you did in tv, I had worked with a lot of people and done really good work for a long time.
So when people heard I was available, they said, Ooh, I might have a project so for the first couple years I was busy. I had enough projects without doing anything. And that was one of my biggest mistakes here. I've talked about all my business knowledge. I went to a fancy business school. I was a startup, C E o.
I didn't treat my business like a business in the early days. Now, one of the other things that I tell my people is, look, even if the projects come easily at first, because people that you know are gonna hear about you, you start. Networking, marketing and business development from the very first day never let a day go by without doing something toward networking, marketing, and business development.
Because here's what happened, Shannon, [00:21:00] I'm two or three years in. I've worked off what I now realize was the pent up demand of all the people that already knew me. But once I had done all those projects, I needed to start getting projects with new people. I just thought, oh man, this is great. The money's just coming in.
I was water skiing every morning. I was, I was being billable at the beach, right? Yeah. It was awesome. But you know what? It's not sustainable. So my pipelines starting to dry up. The dry spells are starting to stretch out.
And guess when that happened? I'm pregnant with my first child. So of course now it's not just the two of us adults kind of freewheeling it. I buckled down. I had the knowledge. And I really treated it like a business.
[00:21:46] Shannon Russell: Billable at the Beach is first off such an amazing name.
That is the dream, right? To be able to work from anywhere and with the pandemic, that's what it taught us too. That we were able to.
[00:21:58] Amy Rasdal: I am very [00:22:00] practical and I also, I believe that anyone can do this There's nothing special about me. Anyone can do this.
Now I do say this really isn't for brand new grads. You really do have to have some solid experience before because people hire you as a consultant because you've been doing what you do for a long time and you're good at it.
They really want you to come in and hit the ground running. So you have to have spent some time to develop those superpowers. But I help people come in and get started. , I'm very focused on revenue generation, I try to get people in on the shortest path to revenue. So a lot of people get all excited and they think, oh, I'm starting my own business. I need logos and websites and all this stuff. No. Stop right there. The first thing that we're gonna do is land a project and get a check in the bank.
You don't need a business name, you don't need a website, you don't need a logo, [00:23:00] you don't need any of that stuff. I've developed, I call it my three action steps to generate revenue.
Now, you can have all the logos and websites and you can open a shop or a restaurant, but until people come in and start giving you money, I don't believe that you have a business.
You have potentially very expensive hobby, right? And so once you actually start doing billable work, you get that confidence for anyone who suffers from imposter syndrome. Now you are a consultant. That first check in the bank. There's something magic about the confidence that builds.
Yeah. Once we start putting those checks in the bank, more projects, more money, somehow those things find their way to us.
So really, really important. The three action steps, land a project, get a check in the bank, and then while we're doing that, we do all those business building things. So, I'm here to tell everyone right now, you [00:24:00] really can do it while you're doing your billable work.
It sounds overwhelming. It really is just simple steps. Amy, this
[00:24:09] Shannon Russell: is so good, because you're right, everything you said, I'm just nodding my head I can remember my first coaching client. And it's that confidence to be like, I wanna go get 20 more. So absolutely. I think what you're teaching is brilliant.
Let's talk about your book then Land a Consulting Project Now.
[00:24:25] Amy Rasdal: this. Online world and going global, it's been amazing, but there's a lot of noise out there. And so I'm always trying to figure out how to reach people so I did a book I tried to weave in stories of my own, of other people to make it interesting. I tried to make it a little bit funny, you know, as much as I could. it really does give the A to z everything that you need in a, in a short, quick, easy version
I have a woman who was in the story and she came into my program. She'd had her [00:25:00] first child and her goal was to be outta the corporate world by the time he was a year old, and within six months, she had doubled her corporate salary. No matter where any of us are and whether we're really consciously focused on our second act, all of us. Have to take control of our careers now. we all have to own our paths now and figure out what that means.
I sometimes have people in my programs who do consulting for a while and decide for whatever reason to take a corporate job again. And that's also fine. People go in and out. We have seasons.
[00:25:40] Shannon Russell: Taking your initiative and your skillset and, and creating something that you can hold the reins to is very, very smart in this day and age.
[00:25:56] Shannon Russell: Name one thing that these different chapters in your life have taught [00:26:00] you.
[00:26:00] Amy Rasdal: For me, I think it's . And And I'm not talking about religion at all here.
It's really faith in myself, faith in the process, faith in other people, faith in my relationships, faith that if I am willing to do the work, have a little perseverance, take a little risk, that I really can make it work. And I have faith that. There's nothing special about me and that really anyone who wants to do this and take control of it, anyone really can.
I really believe that I have faith in all of you.
[00:26:40] Shannon Russell: Would you recommend taking a leap into a big life change to your best friend?
[00:26:44] Amy Rasdal: If you can get yourself and whatever support system you need, and the mindset to do that. I say fantastic, but I also believe that big leaps can be accomplished by taking baby steps.
So many people are overwhelmed and [00:27:00] scared by the big leap. So I say, take a step. Take a step tomorrow, take a step next week, take another step the next day or the next week, or the next month. The first step is the hardest. And if you can just take those baby steps. You can get there.
What is one
[00:27:20] Shannon Russell: piece of advice that you can give to someone who is ready to start their second act
[00:27:24] Amy Rasdal: today? You can do it. That's all I wanna say. You can. So
[00:27:28] Shannon Russell: what does the next act look like for you, Amy?
[00:27:31] Amy Rasdal: I. Really aspire to be a professional philanthropist, so to achieve some point in time where I don't need to work for money anymore.
There's so many causes and things out there, a number of years ago.
I, I wanted to go to, To medical school and start a free clinic for women and children with h I v. This was before there were effective treatments. I've been around for a while, and then I live in San Diego where there's a lot of,[00:28:00] military presence and it really breaks my heart to see so many homeless veterans.
And most recently with my little guy, being identified as having dyslexia. I'm seeing really a social justice crisis in our country on literacy, and it's really affecting, lower socioeconomic ranges and people of color significantly more. So that's my current philanthropic interest is trying to see what we can do
[00:28:32] Shannon Russell: about that.
I feel like you'll be there and be able to do that full-time very soon, right? You're doing all right. So where can my audience connect with you and learn more about Billable at the Beach and follow the goodness that you're doing?
[00:28:45] Amy Rasdal: If you just Google Billable at the Beach, you'll run across me and my website.
I have the three action steps to generate revenue. Now that work, it's a very simple process. That's the shortest path to being billable [00:29:00] is a free email course that you can grab on my website. I have my book that you can get in print or. Electronic or audio. And then social media wise, my biggest place cuz I kind of deal with corporate folks is LinkedIn.
[00:29:16] Shannon Russell: Oh, that's great. Amy, I'm gonna link to everything in the show notes so everyone has easy access and I just thank you so much. This was such a lovely conversation and so nice to hear about your journey and I just congratulate you on the book and all of
[00:29:29] Amy Rasdal: success.
Thank you. Thank you so much for having me, Shannon.