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Episode 124: Consulting as a Side Hustle—with Carrie Bohlig and Craig Clickner

Deb Zahn: I want to welcome you to this week's episode of the Craft of Consulting Podcast. On this episode, we're going to dive into a way that you can either become a consultant or operate your consulting business that has a whole bunch of advantages. And what I'm talking about is doing it as a side hustle, which means that you're doing it part-time, that you have another source or sources of income that you can rely upon while you're either building your consulting business, or that's just how you want to do it.

I brought on folks who are experts in how to do side hustles and how to do them right. Carrie Bohlig and Craig Clickner are going to come on and they're going to talk about what the advantages are. But then really dive into how to do it in a way that it ultimately serves not just your business goals, but it also serves your life goals. Lots of great stuff in this. So let's get started.

Hi, I want to welcome to my show today, Craig Clickner and Carrie Bohlig. Welcome to the show. I'm so happy to have you on.

Craig Clickner: Thanks for having us. We're looking forward to a great discussion.

Carrie Bohlig: Yeah, excited to be here. Thanks, Deb.

Deb Zahn: So let's start off, tell my listeners what you do.

Craig Clickner: Great. Well, we do a lot of things, quite frankly, but let me just give you a touch of a background and then that'll set up the conversation, hopefully go forward. My background is in finance and banking, and I just really realized early on I didn't want to work for someone else forever. So I did that big shot. I worked for General Electric, Deutsche Bank, GE Capital...great firms, but just realized I got to do something, the challenge is what. And I think a lot of people are in that moderate entrepreneur space. They don't want to sit in a cube forever but they're not the Elon Musks of the world. Most of us aren't on either end of that spectrum.

I really started to explore different options. Started with real estate and investing, enrolled in MBA school, which is the answer to everything. And was really frustrated because I couldn't scale any of those things. A lot of people can get in the real estate game, but they can't build that $5 million portfolio that's going to create the financial independence or the flexibility they're seeking. So I ended up running into some people that basically taught people how to drive revenue online using a combination of affiliate marketing and network marketing or direct sales.

We ended up running that play because it was a great way to scale. And then we were able to scale that to a little over a million bucks. Carrie stepped away in her mid 20s from her teaching career, we continue to scale that to several million. And then that allowed us to also start an education company where we started educating people on side hustles, how to do that well. We grew that to a little under probably about a million bucks in revenue. And then all of that replaced my job income after we'd already replaced Carrie's in commercial banking. And so for two years, we banked my salary, I say 110% of my salary, which confuses people, but for math people, they like it.

We just put all that money away, so that created financial security. Not just income, which I think a lot of people sometimes miss. And so then as a function of that, that's allowed us to go out and do a lot of the things you do now, which is start a podcast. Write a book. Spend a lot of time with our kiddos-

Carrie Bohlig: Nonprofit, we started.

Craig Clickner: A nonprofit we've got. And then we've done some consulting on financial consulting and social media consulting. And then most recently, we helped in co-founding a tech company in the automation space for fun really, or for sport. And then we also do a lot of affiliate marketing, which is an interesting side hustle option or add-on for people who are in consulting to help others do their own marketing.

Carrie Bohlig: You forgot real estate.

Craig Clickner: Oh yeah, real estate.

Carrie Bohlig: We have a lot of things in the queue over here.

Deb Zahn: That's it? You slackers!

Craig Clickner: Yeah. But when you take the job out of the game and you replace it with what was passive income or at least progressive passive income, which I'm really excited to explore in the consulting space. Man, so many things opened up for us and our imagination can really run free and we can chase what we really want to do in a day versus, "I need the money, I need the money."

Carrie Bohlig: One, everything we've done to this day has been a side hustle. So we haven't really started or scale anything as a front hustle. And that's given us a neat opportunity to have more autonomy and be with our kids more. We do a lot of traveling. We love being out in nature, exploring, and adventuring. So it's a neat way to live your life where there's just a lot more fluidity versus being like, "I am engineer, period.” Right?

Deb Zahn: Exactly. And then I have life, period.

Carrie Bohlig: Yes. And then there's life, maybe. If there's time.

Deb Zahn: That's right. Well, one of the things that really resonated with me when I was reading your bio is you had this line that you wanted to create an exceptional life with choices and autonomy. And I read that and I just lit up because that is definitely how I pursue most of what I do in life. Now that's a particular vision. This was the short version of all of the things that you did to get there but you had to have, I would imagine, a vision that you wanted to go down that path. What drew you to that being your life's goal?

Carrie Bohlig: Well, for me I didn't dislike my career. I was actually a teacher in early childhood education. I feel like I had one of the best jobs hanging out with cute four-year-olds, but it came at the cost, which was lifestyle and actually making good income. And then that leads to all these other choices. An important thing for me, it was more, how do I leverage business as a tool to create an amazing life, not just to make income? Because quite frankly, there's a lot of ways to make money, but how do we actually create it in a way that actually is really fulfilling and significant?

And I think there's a lot of people out there where, I don't want to say it feels like entitlement, but they may be working at their job and like, "Oh, I have to show up. They're making me come 40 hours a week." If you have bold frustrations, I hope you have bold solutions and you're really actively working on making some power plays and doing things unconventionally because with the go to school, get a good job adage, a lot of people have those frustrations. So you have to do something different if you want different outcomes. And that's so simple and logical but a lot of people don't actually apply it to their lifestyle and really achieve a stronger life vision.

So I think you want to start by really identifying, what are the values that match your vision? And again, for me, fulfillment is really important. Adventure is really important. Fun is really important. Being with my family. So how do I translate that into a real lifestyle and life vision? And then, where do I know people that have actually done that? Who do I know who's created that lifestyle and that life vision? And we're huge proponents of going to the who before the what, necessarily. I wasn't as concerned about the industries. I would have sold pickles if I had needed to have the lifestyle that we have.

Craig Clickner: But we do love pickles, so.

Carrie Bohlig: That's a really bad example because that's my favorite food.

Craig Clickner: Toothpicks.

Carrie Bohlig: I would've sold tuna-

Deb Zahn: There you go.

Carrie Bohlig: ...if it meant having the type of lifestyle and impact we have right now. But just being more flexible and open-minded on the medium because I think a lot of people, potentially consultants, cut themselves off a little too sharp from some ways that could actually help them scale, as Craig talked about. Maybe some things that are more practical in nature that could help them get closer to their determined life vision more efficiently.

Deb Zahn: That's right. But if you start off without one, you're going to end up just working and it won't be probably terribly different than when you were in your job. And then your entitlement will be, "Oh, I'm making myself work and show up," and it's just flipped a little bit.

Craig Clickner: Yeah. And you have more autonomy, but then you trade it for security. And you give up a lot of peace of mind because then there's that neurosis that kicks in like, "Oh, I need another client. I need another client."

Deb Zahn: That's right. Absolutely. And I definitely want to get into the passive part because I have some experience with that that was mind blowing. But let's start off with a side hustle. So of the folks that are listening who aren't in the entrepreneurial space and don't know what that means, can you define a side hustle?

Craig Clickner: Yeah. So we define a side hustle as something a little different than gig work. So gig work is, and this is just the way we've defined it in our book and McGraw Hill backed it, I guess. Gig work is where you just do maybe a random job. Maybe it's cutting a lawn, or maybe you just randomly service a client because you are in marketing or whatever and you just do a little random consulting. So that would be gig work. A side hustle is something where you really have an opportunity to build something that can create an ongoing business revenue stream. Usually, we talk about digging your heels in a little bit, having a clear destination and really surrounding yourself and encasing yourself with other people who are on that journey, like get a mentor and really think about, "I'm going to build a business."

Now you might not build that side hustle into a million dollars in revenue or a million dollars in income. But you can, and there's that option. So that's really how we build the side hustle. We talk about it. It keeps the day job. Use that as your financial security, your blanket, but then realize having one way to make money in the 21st century is silly. It is a silly notion. Don't go that route. Job security is like in its hospice, it's not doing well. So if you're a high end professional right now, do something. Now, what you do and how you do it, we can talk about those chips. But you've got to do something, so move, and hence the side hustle.

Keep the day job. You don't have to put all this pressure on your job to complete you, but then you also don't have to do that with your side hustle either. We talk about this a lot, but your first business doesn't need to be your last. Just get going, get moving, create some income, create some revenue, and then…

Carrie Bohlig: Skills. Develop some skills.

Craig Clickner: Develop some skills. Figure out what you like, what you don't like. And then from there, as you've got revenue now, you can look at taking a more substantial leap if you want to leave corporate or go half the time or whatever. A lot of that might depend on what we call your life set, which is the other things going on in your life versus just your mindset.

Deb Zahn: Yeah. I think the first side hustler I knew was my mom who, when she was working at a medical center, she sold vintage cowboy boots on eBay. And she made thousands and thousands of dollars. She just did it for fun, but it paid for all of their vacations. So they took trips all around the world because people are really into vintage cowboy boots.

Carrie Bohlig: It turns out.

Deb Zahn: Who knew. Right? So for consultants, often what happens when someone's thinking of being a consultant is, they think all or nothing. So either I leave my job completely and I go out into the wilderness or I don't because I'm too afraid. Say a little bit about how you would envision for a consultant, a side hustle might look for them?

Craig Clickner: Yeah. So number one, we recommend getting a good job. If you're working 80 hours a week in your job, you're overworking, you're over-delivering, and you're not thinking clearly, in my opinion. Instead of working 60 hours a week at your job, put in 45 and take 15 and start to build something for yourself. So number one, that mentality has to change. Also, you don't need to be the superhero in your job if you're going to have other ways to make money. You need to be good, you need to perform, you need to deliver, but don't be like, "I need to be the top performer of a 1,000-person company," and then also go build this amazing business. No. You need to manage that a little bit.

So those are a couple of mindset shifts, I would say. But then the biggest thing is being willing to work in the evenings and weekends where it goes off hours. Our thought process is to have a good day job but put a boundary around how much effort and time you're going to put there. And learn how to be effective at the job. Don't spend time complaining. We didn't have the best friendships with all our coworkers. We had good relationships, but they weren't best friendships. So these types of things will set you up. Now the beauty of going out on the side and doing it is that you can get a feel for the work. Do you like it? Are you willing to do sales or are you really scared of sales, but you're willing to do it to create revenue and create financial security?

And then the other big advice I would get is, go attack. And I say attack because people are too passive about this. Other people will have effectively scaled into their own consulting business in your industry. And that alone is like a watershed difference because if you're in marketing or advertising, and then you go find a consultant who's built a business, they might even give you some freebie clients. They'll teach you so many things in two hours that you would have to stumble and struggle for years to figure out otherwise. Those would be our most practical tips.

The reason not to have a binary mindset is most of life is not that way. People are like, "I'm all in or I'm all out." I call bullshit on all of that. Maybe if you're an Olympic athlete and you're about to go for the gold medal in two weeks, you're probably pretty freaking dialed in. Otherwise, you have a spouse, you have a girlfriend, you've watched movies, you do Netflix. Figure out some of those times that you've been replaced to actually get going and take some control over your life. And then if you like it and it's going well or you're learning, then you can just scale accordingly and you can always flip the switch off the job.

You can be an ultra-conservative banker like myself and wait for two or three years longer than you really should. Or you've got 20 hours billed and you're single in your 20s. And it's like, "I could live off this. Let me move into mom's basement and grow this asset over time." So I think those are a lot of the beauties of the side hustle. But then the one thing I want to comment on real quick is, don't just think work, client, work, client, work, client. Have a goal. What are you trying to create from this? What is your lifestyle? How do you want to live 10 years from now? So then that becomes the GPS or the targeting, the GPS system versus just like, more clients, more clients, more clients.

Deb Zahn: Yeah. I always tell people to envision your day-to-day life, not the big, huge, "Oh, and I'm now a consultant with a capital C. And it means this..." because it may not mean that. It probably doesn't. But let me ask you one question because you touched upon the mindset, which I know is so important when doing this work. And you were talking about perfectionism without saying the word. That is an affliction that many folks who are thinking about getting into consulting or have become consultants recently suffer from. And so how do you really work your way through that? So that it really is a focus on building what you want to build and scale what you want to scale.

Carrie Bohlig: It's overcoming perfectionism, Deb.

Craig Clickner: And I think being willing to just go for it a little bit. It's like what you're saying.

Carrie Bohlig: Yeah. I think that's what holds most people hostage in any area of life. Perfectionism is fear dressed in fancy high heels. It's like a very eyebrow way of saying, "I'm terrified," but without actually admitting it. And so there's a lot of people who are like, “I'm all in or I'm all out,” and this other branch of people who are like, "Yeah, until I know everything, I'm not even going to stick my toe in the water, get my feet wet, explore, experientially learn." And it's hard because academia I think strips people to think like you have to do everything really, really well. You can't get a D on the test, otherwise you flunk out, you lose your scholarship.

Same thing when you're working for someone else's business. There's not a lot of room for exploration or failure. And if you do, there's just this underlying fear that you're going to get fired, which doesn't feel good. So as a business owner, people really have to shift gears on accepting that a huge part of being a business owner is not knowing everything and still being willing to go do the thing and mess some things up. Figure it out through failure. I tell people, don't suck at sucking because you're going to suck. That's non-negotiable, it's part of the gig, you're signing up for it, if you're going into the jungle, as a Ray Dalio calls it.

So it's more or less, how do you handle that? And how do you frame that in your mind? And what's also so powerful back to the earlier question, with having more of a side hustle approach is, you get to keep the security of your full-time paycheck. You can go make dozens of mistakes. It doesn't mean you're not going to put food on the table. And that's where I think we qualify as very much moderate entrepreneurs, especially in our 20s, is we weren't willing to take on that type of risk. But we also didn't want to work for someone else till we were in our 60s.

So it was like playing in that intermediate space that was so powerful. And having the day job actually enabled us to make proper investments into building something because a lot of people, if they're side hustling, the biggest mistake they make is they treat it like a side hustle, meaning they think of it as a hobby and they don't actually invest into their business. They don't make tough decisions and maybe cut back on cable or like do some things that if you're going to build something unconventional, you're going to have to maybe make some decisions and allocate money in different ways than your neighbor will. And that's where that association is so powerful being around other people who are actually in that same pursuit.

Deb Zahn: That's right. Or are a little further along.

Carrie Bohlig: But that normalizes it. It normalizes it.

Craig Clickner: You and I have a very interesting background because she tends to be more decisive in most things and then I tend to be more of the analytic and like, "Oh, let's talk about it and think about it for longer." And so what I've had to learn is that business ownership is rewarded by action, that you're better off going and swinging four times and getting one base hit than trying to perfect a swing and read 10 more books about it. It doesn't work that way. It's experiential learning versus academic. And to Carrie's point, if you've been trained academically, then it's a mindset shift for sure.

Deb Zahn: Huge mindset shift. And I know that as people... so if there's folks who are thinking, "OK, this all sounds good. I think I am going to start this as a side hustle," and you don't want to get paralyzed by overthinking it and waiting until you know everything, but you also don't want to be like, "Lah, lah, lah," and then leave without anything. So what would be the first steps you would suggest that someone do if they're like, "All right, I'm going to start my side hustle, but I want to do it as sensibly as possible?"

Craig Clickner: Yeah. Well, and I'll zoom back out and go and start with the life vision. Like, "OK, what am I trying to accomplish? How do I want to live? How does a side hustle fit into that?" So now as we start to back up into like, "OK, I'm actually going to make this plunge," there's so many things that you can do, but the biggest thing that I think you want to think about if you know specifically what you're going to do already as a consultant because you have that deep expertise is, how do I generate some revenue and some clients? Because if you have enough revenue, most high-end consultants can figure it out.

But if you don't have clients, then you're just moving...I say rearranging the furniture on the Titanic. Some people like that. My wife doesn't like that joke, but I just use it anyway once in a while.

Deb Zahn: Is it too soon?

Carrie Bohlig: I'm glad you liked it, Deb.

Craig Clickner: That's what I said, honey, It's been a few years. That is really funny. So start thinking about, how would you actually generate clients and maybe even already have someone who said like, "Hey, did you do my taxes for me?" Or, "Hey, could you help me out on this project?" And charge them for it. You don't have to charge them a lot, but charge something. Don't just do it freebie willy nilly, but then don't charge premium price when you don't have a premium process because then I see consultants that go out and they're like, "Well, I'm going to charge $5,000 a client." It's like, how many clients do you have? Zero. OK, well, let's get a few. Charge something, and then increase your price proportionate to your expertise and who you've helped and your credibility outside of your regular career.

So sales would be my number one thing. How do I generate some real revenue?

Carrie Bohlig: And I'll just interject because one thing I think for people in technical areas of expertise, that is going to be the hardest part for a lot of people. They might have the technical niche, but they maybe don't know how to talk to people or develop a book of business. And I think getting some good skill development early on is really, really important. Otherwise, most people anchor themselves in peripheral tasks that don't actually lead to revenue and they wonder, "Oh man, business is so hard." It's because you're focusing on your website, and your business cards, and your social media, you're not actually networking with the emphasis on building finance.

So I think that's just an important area for people that don't have this hardcore networking or sales driven background.

Deb Zahn: That's right. Or they're going out and having at least pre-COVID lunch after lunch, drink after drink, and they got nothing to show for it because they're not going into it with the intent to sell there. They're doing outreach with a little o at the beginning.

Craig Clickner: Yeah. Exactly. I have a philosophy. It's two rules. Rule one is first client, you've got to get a first client. Just go get one client. That's one client that you can charge, will open so many flood gates, it'll build you up, you'll have momentum. And then the second rule is, that's not enough. So you have one client, but then no, don't stop right now. Go get more.

Deb Zahn: But I love that one client because if nothing else, it's going to break up your self-doubt. And it's going to boost your confidence enough, but you're right, you can't just say, "And I've made it." It's like, "No, you've made it to one client. That's fabulous. But you gotta keep going." I like that.

Carrie Bohlig: Yeah. Even just in the last year, we've hired a couple consultants who very transparently said to us, "Hey, I'm going to be open, you would be my first client. But here's my expertise. I'm willing to have a smaller billable rate as a function of that." But there's also nothing wrong with being transparent with people on your level of experience, but then to Craig's point, charging proportionately so you can at least get that experience. Hopefully, get some good reviews, some good references. If you're very early on in your game, I think it's fair to just own where you're at on your journey and not have to pretend that you've got this like 10 year’s of experience that you don't.

Deb Zahn: Yeah. Unless you do, in which case...I'm thinking of my first gig. I charged full rates which were high rates. And I charged full rates because it was so in my wheelhouse, I knew that I was going to deliver in a way that the client wasn't going to be able to do themselves. But you have to be able to discern that as opposed to, "I think I could figure this out," which is a whole different thing, in which case, you have to give the client a good experience and that good experience is they have to feel touch and taste return on investment, which is why I love the way that you're talking about that.

Now, you mentioned passive or progressive passive income, which I fly that flag for consultants to think about. I actually just took some flack on Instagram from someone who said, "You must not like being a consultant if you want to do that." And I'm like, "Really?" Because I did one, it was a half a million dollars that was generated from it. So passive income or progressive passive is a huge opportunity for consultants to scale their business, but define what that is, and talk a little bit about what those opportunities are.

Craig Clickner: Sure. And I think maybe you could riff on this a little bit specifically in the consulting space because we have more of that in other arenas because the consulting that we've done has been a little bit more ad hoc and stuff that we've just built really nice rates for. Passive income is income you don't have to work for. Active income is anything you have to work for. And so there's this big noise about passive income...passive income. Well, passive income is not a joke.

Most people don't have a lot of that until they've worked until 65, and then they have what I call the pile theory. And you have to try to make sure the pile is the right size because you're going to be pulling off of it for the next, maybe 50 years, depending on when you were born and what your life expectancy's going to be. So that's the pile theory to build up that passive income over a lifetime in the 401(k) or the Roths or whatever. Progressive passive income is income that has some elements of passiveness to it, but might still require some work.

Like we have a lake house, and we don't have to do a heck of a lot for the lake house because we've outsourced it, but there's a little bit of work that we have to do for it if we're renting it out. And so in general, that's probably more passive, but there's an element of progressive passive to it. One of our businesses, we definitely support people and coach and mentor others, but there's a lot of income that comes if we don't do anything. And so we would call that progressive passive income. And I think that that's something more people should be wrapping their heads around.

So when you look at consulting, there's some ways to start where it's not just you working 1,000 hours at a billable rate, most people think, "How do I increase my rate? I want to increase my rate, rate, rate." The question is, how do we increase our time? And we do that by outsourcing or creating processes or automation of some form. So a few different ways to do that is to hire a virtual assistant. Get an assistant who can make certain calls for you. May send out certain messages. All of a sudden that creates time leverage, and you can spend a little bit of that time with your kids. Or with your spouse. Or away from your kids, depending on your relationship with your children.

Deb Zahn: Your kids aren't going to listen to this, right?

Carrie Bohlig: Not for at least 10 years.

Craig Clickner: Not for at least 15 years. There are other things that you can do, also. You can productize your knowledge. This is something that a lot of people don't think about. But you can build a course, you can create it in audio, you can write a book. You can do certain things then that you can still consult but there's also a base or other revenue coming in that supports that. You don't have to constantly be physically working on trading those rates. But I'd love to hear, maybe you just add onto that.

Deb Zahn: I'll give you a couple of examples. One is the one I did. One is another consultant who I work with but also talked about this on my podcast. So the one that we did...When I first started consulting, I was at a firm. But we had built an assessment tool for a significant shift that was happening in the healthcare market all around how folks were going to get paid. So you can imagine, people were freaking out, and they were trying to figure it out. And no one knew when it was coming in. No one knew how to even get ready for it.

So we developed an assessment tool for readiness. And we developed it as a one-off for a client and then realized, "Wait a minute, everyone could benefit from this. But the only way to scale it and to make it affordable is to do it online." So we developed an online process for it. We'd figured out what you were going to get back that was actually going to be valuable. So it wasn't just your responses. It was, what are the priorities in terms of timing? What are the priorities in terms of what you have to do first? And then we sold it.

And how we sold it is we went to trade associations and had them buy it on behalf of their membership. It did extraordinarily well. And then what they got in addition…this is why it sounds like a progressive passive approach, which I hadn't heard that term before. I love that…is they would get one hour of coaching against their results. And one of the benefits of that is you then get to see additional layers of our intellectual property and our abilities because we're able to talk to you about what's in the report relative to your specific circumstances.

And it did enormously well. It helped a lot of folks and there were all these naysayers that said, "No, no, you can never sell something like that in this space. Everybody does “trading time for money” consulting." And what we heard back from clients is just by taking the assessment, they were able to have conversations with their leadership that defined readiness in ways that they didn't understand. Nobody knew what readiness meant and our tool helped them figure that out and then help them figure out what their priorities were.

We did enormously well financially on it, but it also proved the point that this could be done and it could be potentially scaled to other sectors within that market. A colleague of mine who I work with quite a bit from another firm had a whole series of compliance things that particular types of providers had to update every year. But their lawyers...most of them can't afford lawyer rates. So he developed a subscription service so that it would be updated. All you have to do is adjust it for years. And again, did extremely well with that because they were willing to think out of the box and think about, how can we do this that doesn't involve us having to show up and do something every single time?

Craig Clickner: Yup, exactly.

Deb Zahn: I love that.

Craig Clickner: I know there are just two examples of many. Dozens or hundreds of thousands out there.

Deb Zahn: Yeah. And I would say if somebody does something over and over and over again with different clients, that's a perfect thing to look at in terms of, is there a way to turn that into a product? I love that. So is there anything that folks before, or as they start to operate a side hustle that you would just say, "No, don't do that no matter what"?

Craig Clickner: Oh gosh. You wrote a chapter on that, I believe.

Carrie Bohlig: Yeah. There's a lot of pitfalls. And we see, like you said, there's patterns. There are patterns of success, there's patterns of failure. A lot of people assume that the journey is going to be very easy and short lived in terms of how quickly they're going to be successful. And what ends up happening a lot of times is people do the foundational work, but they don't stick around long enough to actually capture the rewards of their work. A lot of people have that shiny next business syndrome where it's like, "OK, I'll do this for a few months. If it doesn't work, I'll just bounce to the next consulting idea."

And it's like, "Yeah, it's probably going to take you a little bit longer than that to really identify if it's a fruitful venture or a viable business venture." Under investing or investing into the wrong things, so that's a big mindset shift, especially if people don't come from families where their moms or dads did a lot of investments or had successful businesses, or they don't have this nucleus in their sphere of influence of people that are actively investing into building something.

And that's why that association, just getting around people who are doing it will help give people an example and a benchmark on what's helpful, what's effective and what makes sense. And having that, like helicopter view or the bleacher view from someone who's already created, the result, you can't really put a price tag on that. And so I would say even investing into a coach or mentor in that regard can be helpful, but if you can't afford that yet, you're not quite ready for that. At least get around other people in the industry who are modeling that.

Craig Clickner: Or offer to work for some of them for free so that you can get access to the way they think and how they operate if they're really successful.

Deb Zahn: That's a creative way to approach it.

Craig Clickner: Why not be their intern for a few months and give them some free whatever, and then they'll teach you and you'll see the guts of their business. And if you're good, maybe they'll hire you or give you a client that's too small for them or something. I don't want to cut you off.

Carrie Bohlig: No, those are just a few, we could go on and on.

Deb Zahn: But you got to read the chapter.

Craig Clickner: I think one thing we talk about that a lot of people don't is we define mindset as your way of thinking in your opinions. The life set is your way of living and your choices. And so a lot of people's life isn't set up to actually build a real business on the side because, let's be honest, you have a job issue, major relationship or health issue, the first thing that gets put back, the back burner or the offers are the side hustle every time. And so you have to be smart about making good quality decisions and the life set and managing your finances and things like that so that you can build something sustainable.

I'm sure you know this, but I don't know how many financial planners I met or other small business owners I met where it's like the first five years are just terrible. It's just a grind. They're like wondering if they're going to survive. And then after 10 years, you're picking up million dollar, $2 million clients like that because your referrals and that exponential curve kicks in. And so many people are overestimating what they can do in a year, and then very much underestimating the exponential growth curve that'll kick in in 5 to 10 years. And so there's an element of being in it for the long haul that is so valuable.

Deb Zahn: That's right. It's not like a job where hopefully your first six months performance review goes well, and that's how you know you're doing OK. This is really a longer endeavor. I love that. I know you folks are the perfect people to answer this, but how do you bring balance to your life, especially with all of the phenomenal things you're doing?

Craig Clickner: Well, they say that balance is kind of a misnomer in the game of entrepreneurship, like there is no balance. And I would be curious to hear your candid opinion on this, but I would agree with that, that there's probably a certain point in the journey where you need to be a little bit hair on fire, like, "I'm really going to smoke this." But it should be a section of life or it should be predetermined that like, "Hey, I'm going to put my head down and really train," if you want to grow something fast and big,

If you just really want to maintain and organically grow something over a long period of time, that's different. But I think that period there...But then that's why you need to know, what are your values? Which sounds hokey. I would hate that when they ask me in my corporate world, what are your values? Like, "Talk about what you did at GE when you were the head of, say, how we did things during the year that aligned with the values of GE?" I like the idea of it but I don't really care what you believe the value is.

Deb Zahn: And they don't probably care how you answer it.

Craig Clickner: It was so complicated. But the point is, you should know what you value. Do you value adventure or do you value security? Because those things are going to dictate what is a win. And so many people are starting businesses or side hustles but they're not finishing them. You can't finish it if you don't know what finishing looks like. We talked about this a little bit already, so you define what the win is, and then you're able to now figure out how that fits into your life.

And so when you have a target of progressive passive or passive income, now all of a sudden that business can enhance your lifestyle dramatically versus just being a fine pit of work and stress and intensity. And so I think by doing that, that allows you to now work towards something that's very enriching in your life. And then we talk about having these different goals and different buckets of life. So financials, faith, your family, or your relationships, and then fun. And so if you can have some goals in each of those buckets, that should allow you to create the right balance as you start out and at the end...

But my experience is in the middle, and there might be a time where you're in a little bit of a pressure cooker, and you can just really got to run and gun super hard. But then you also got to know, do you have small children or are they out of the house?

Deb Zahn: I think that's important.

Carrie Bohlig: Or you know if you have two children.

Craig Clickner: Yeah. They should know that. Do you not have kids? Do you never had kids? Are you single? Sick spouses? And so now you need to try to manage all those. Whatever your situation is, that's relevant to how much balance you need, because when I was single in my 20s, I didn't care about balance anyways other than some exercises, I'm fine. Do you want to add anything?

Carrie Bohlig: Yeah. I think what's beautiful about taking a side hustle approach is that you can open a little bit more balance into your life. You're not working 70 hours getting out of startup. So I think that's in a lot of ways, conducive for the more moderate entrepreneur who wants to have a little bit more semblance of balance in their life. But I would say you're going to have to work hard and that there's likely more going to be phases or moments of balance, but it's not going to be like, you go to the nine-to five-job and come home and you watch Netflix all night, or go to the picnic, or happy hours every night.

It's just going to look a little bit different. Balance is going to look a little bit different than the average person. So my suggestion is don't compare the modern art museum to the impressionism museum. You're comparing two different things and if you can get yourself out of a comparison game and just define your normal, what feels like a balance to you is going to be different than someone who has no threshold for anything productive or a side hustle outside of work.

And also just being willing to run and gun a little bit but then know your threshold to when you have to take a step back and have more time with your kids or have more time out in nature, or take a vacation and don't do work. And I think that's hard for business owners to do. We can attest to not being perfect at that. And also our thresholds have changed. I developed an auto-immune illness after having my first child. So my thresholds changed, and I had to just honor that versus fight it. And also that gave me good empathy towards other people who maybe weren't running as fast as I was previously.

So own your own race and just embrace the moments and phases of balance and imbalance. Treat it like an adventure. That's what I've always done. And also just really honor your needs. My 20s were like work hard, play hard. My 30s I added self-care hard to the mix and that's a very, very powerful thing to have on your radar and to make investments into because again, if it's more of a marathon approach, you're going to need energy and some spirit behind it to keep running the race.

Deb Zahn: I love that. I love that. Where can folks find you?

Carrie Bohlig: We're all over the place. We're everywhere. We're mainly in Wisconsin but on the internet, we're on LinkedIn a lot. I do a lot on LinkedIn. We're also on Instagram, We've got our website, We've got the book on pretty much all of the major retailers and channels. So that's really the best way to find us but anything we can do to help support people, we're all about it.

Deb Zahn: That's wonderful. And we'll have links to all of that in the show notes, but thank you so much for joining me today. This was delightful and it's got my juices going on things that are possible.

Craig Clickner: Good. I hope it was helpful. Thank you for having us and congrats on all your success, Deborah.

Carrie Bohlig: Thank you, Deb.

Deb Zahn: Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the Craft of Consulting Podcast. I want to ask you to do actually three things. If you enjoyed this episode or if you've enjoyed any of my other ones, hit subscribe. I got a lot of other great guests that are coming up and a lot of other great content and I don't want you to miss anything. But the other two things that I'm going to ask you to do is, one is, if you have any comments, so if you have any suggestions or any kind of feedback that will help make this podcast more helpful to more listeners, please include those.

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