Why I gave up my consulting business

Okay, I didn’t exactly give up my consulting business. I’m still doing some work through my company Lau Labs for friends and friends of friends. But I essentially shelved it to start FlexTeam. Here’s why.

My Solo Consulting Business

I started advising and consulting for entrepreneurs and small business owners more than a decade ago. Business plans, websites, basic financial models, marketing, branding, operations strategy, business development … I pretty much did it all for small companies. And I was pretty successful at it.

Then, I Became a Mother

I’ve always been interested in work-life fit. But during my first pregnancy in 2010, I became increasingly interested in “solving” the “problem” of ambitious, educated, talented women and men “opting out” of the traditional workforce for to spend time with their kids or other personal reasons. I started thinking about how I ought to start a company to get projects for all these smart moms.

Once my daughter was born, I kept working on consulting via Lau Labs but also considered myself a stay-at-home mom (SAHM). And as I became friends with more SAHMs, I started to feel the urgency of creating a company to get projects for all my smart SAHM friends. Women who had once had successful careers, who had begun to discount their self worth after quitting their jobs. Women who transitioned to part-time work, only to quit after finding they were doing full-time work at part-time pay. Women who were throwing themselves passionately into motherhood, parent teacher associations, and fundraising. Highly-educated, highly-experienced women wondering if they’d ever be employable after being at home with their kids.

A Difficult Pregnancy

Long story, the pregnancy with my son was not easy: very frequent doctors’ appointments. And so, while I still thought about creating this mom consulting company, I put working on it on hold for awhile. It didn’t stop me from brainstorming. Talking with other moms, I began to envision providing a whole suite of services to mothers who left the traditional workforce. Services like project-based consulting work, resume services, workshops to help women transition back to work, confidence building exercises, training sessions, networking events with a community of like-minded women, and more. And once my son was born, I began more actively seeking out partners for this endeavor and working on a business plan.

Starting FlexTeam

All this time, I continued to do consulting work via Lau Labs. Working from home and out of coffee shops (and hotel lobbies) and doing pretty well, if I do say so myself. Especially considering the number of actual working weeks I was putting in — which I coordinated around school breaks, school performances, and other personal obligations.

But when the opportunity to start FlexTeam with two other MIT alums (including a former roommate) came up, I put Lau Labs aside. And instead of working just when I wanted to, I began working 25 to 60+ hours a week (still from home or coffee shops or hotel lobbies) to make my mom consulting firm a reality. Why? Because I had seen too many smart moms struggling with motherhood and their career. Women shouldn’t have to choose. Men shouldn’t have to choose either.

So why did I put my consulting business aside to start FlexTeam? Because, as Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson said in Rework, “What you do is your legacy.”

The work we are doing with FlexTeam is important. I’ve seen women regain their confidence after working on a project or two with us. I’ve seen women use FlexTeam’s projects as one of many sources of work, allowing them to work full-time from home. I’ve seen women go through the onboarding process and learn something insightful about themselves and what they want.

Today, FlexTeam’s highly experienced, networked, and intelligent consultants have over 8,000 hours of time each week to spend working together to solve our client’s business challenges. We are generating a better income for women; a tight knit professional community that is fueling our growth of projects; a growing body of knowledge and technology that helps us scale the value of our time; and a long waiting list of others that want to join.

If you are as inspired as we are, come grow your business with us.

And more importantly, are you doing something to make the world a better place? Are you doing something that matters? What could you be doing to make a better world?

Yolanda Lau is an experienced entrepreneurship consultant, advisor, and Forbes Contributor. She is also an educator, speaker, writer, and non-profit fundraiser.

Since 2010, she has been focused on preparing knowledge workers, educators, and students for the future of work.

Learn more about Yolanda here.

FlexTeam  is  a mission-based micro-consulting firm, co-founded by Yolanda Lau in 2015, that matches talented mid-career women with meaningful, challenging, temporally flexible, remote project-based work opportunities. FlexTeam’s clients are businesses of all sizes across all industries and sectors. FlexTeam’s most requested projects are competitor / market research, financial models, and investor decks. FlexTeam is also the team behind Liquid.