Breaking into the Consulting Industry: How Young is too Young?

  • By Reveille Group
  • 01 Mar, 2017

Authors: Selah Rhodes & Wayne Waldon

Have you wondered whether the market for young C-suite executives is only reserved for Silicon Valley geniuses or fashion bloggers? Well, three years ago, Wayne and I wondered this exact question as we were faced with the opportunity to start a consulting group from the ground up. When we started doing the research, we immediately realized that the odds of success may never be in our favor. Unless of course, we’d be willing to wait another decade.

The Numbers Don't Lie

  • The average age of a successful startup founder is 40, states  TIME Magazine .
  • Millennials are starting fewer businesses today than Baby Boomers did when they were the same age, according to the  Kauffman Foundation .
  • Across all industries, the average business owner is over 50 years old. But perhaps even more notable is that  veteran-owned businesses are overwhelmingly run by proprietors that are over the age of 55, according to the  U.S. Small Business Administration .  

In fact, when compared against other small business owners, veterans are starting companies much later in life than that of their civilian counterparts.

                 Source data from the U.S. Census Bureau Survey of Business Owners (2011).

So there we were, two young professionals, hoping to build a veteran-owned consulting firm, with the odds (quite literally) stacked against us.

Like many of our esteemed industry colleagues in the federal consulting space, we didn’t have 20+ years of individual industry experience, this wasn’t a second career for us, and we weren’t retired executives with powerful client connections. Starting in the consulting/professional services realm, we also weren’t attractive targets for venture capital or private equity start-up funding. In case you already may be aware, there isn’t exactly a “buzz” centered on federal consulting start-ups.

So, how would we break in? How would we be successful? Were we premature in taking this jump? Perhaps, but as the great educator and consultant Peter Druker once stated, “the best way to predict the future is to create it”.

Three years later, we’re overcome with joy, gratitude, and if I’m being frank with you, we’re still honestly in a bit of shock that we’re not only still in the game, but that we’re thriving. Now don’t get me wrong, Wayne and I are still in the trenches together – building, sharing, and maintaining our brand, running down business leads, operating as “jack of all trades”, and inhaling wisdom and tips along the way.

But the fruit of our labor is shown in the strong group of talented, driven individuals that we’ve been grateful to bring on to our team. They drive the mission of Reveille, providing sustainable and strategic solutions to our clients – and being able to have them carry the torch on projects, without sacrificing quality or innovation, is our biggest success to-date.

We certainly don’t have everything figured out, but we’d like to share three insights for breaking into the consulting space - all learned along the way on our personal journey so far (some even earned with a few bumps and bruises).

Three Tips for Breaking into Consulting

1.      Cultivate the connection with potential clients and partners: You’ve heard the typical advice to learn your elevator pitch – that certainly rings true. But when your potential clients are hearing hundreds of pitches in their day-to-day – how do you break through? By quickly finding and bridging a connection with them. What is their problem that you can fix? How can you highlight your company’s sincerity, business savvy, and innovation? It’s many times that these first impressions build ties that bind and get you your first big break.

2.      Invest in innovative infrastructure: If you’re going to be a one-person consulting firm, this may not apply. If you’re looking to build something bigger than yourself, you’re going to need to invest in building an infrastructure that attracts and retains top consulting talent. Benefits, recruiting, mentorship, timekeeping, payroll, and more. Luckily, there are a ton of innovative, cost-effective businesses built on re-thinking how these components work – assess the balance of your needed cash, functionality, and scalability to determine what works for you.

3.      Find the right people for today and the future: When you’re recruiting for your first project on top of all your other duties, finding the right person for the task can take more time than you think you can spare. Take the time to find the right talent – and envision your hires as not just butts in seats, but investments in your future. Can you find the person who will execute this project, but also drive just as hard to see your consulting company succeed? Will they be in the trenches with you on a critical deadline or to support future growth?

Though we now have a bit more confidence when we tell people we work for Reveille Group after three years, we’re still learning and evolving the concept of what it means to be young, startup- minded executives building a federal consulting practice - figuring out what the future outlook is and how we plan to get there. We hope you’ll join us for the next stretch of this journey by staying engaged with us. Check back frequently for future posts, and be sure to follow Reveille Group on  FacebookLinkedIn , and  Twitter .

All the best,
Selah and Wayne

Other News
By Reveille Group 04 Dec, 2017

Author: Selah Rhodes & Wayne Waldon

Reveille Group is proud to be participating in Wreaths Across America again this year. Each December, on National Wreaths Across America Day, thousands of volunteers spend a few hours of their day placing wreaths on the graves of our nation’s fallen heroes.

What started in 1992 as a personal act of kindness, has grown to be a nationally recognized organization dedicated to honoring our country's fallen heroes. Wreaths Across America has laid over 700,000 memorial wreaths at over 1,000 locations across the United States; bringing together volunteers, veterans, and hundreds of organizations to:

 1. Remember  - our nations fallen U.S veterans,

 2. Honor  - those who serve,

 3. And Teach  - the next generation the value of freedom.

Please consider contributing to our donations page , so that every fallen veteran can be honored this holiday season. Just $15 will sponsor 1 wreath for a child, a parent, a neighbor, or a friend who you’d like to honor and remember.

Thank you for all that have already contributed to our campaign. With your help, we have already raised close to 50% of our target funds.

Wishing you and yours all the best this holiday season,

Selah & Wayne

By Reveille Group 24 Oct, 2017

Author: Leigh Anne Arnold

When was the last time you felt overwhelmed while at the office? If stress dominates your every work day, you’re certainly not alone. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), over 65% of Americans list work as their top source of stress, and over one-third report experience workplace stress for a prolonged period of time

Workplace stress continues to rise each year and with it, so does the rate of absenteeism. How bad is it? According to The American Institute of Stress

  • An estimated one million workers are absent every day due to stress. 
  • And job stress is estimated to cost the US $300 billion annually due to accidents, diminished productivity, and employee turnover. 

As a full-time professional, you spend a minimum of 40 hours a week focused on your work, or nearly 2,000 hours a year. Such an extensive amount of time spent on work, in addition to all of life’s demands and stressors, can take an incredible toll on your mental health and ability to perform, reinforcing the importance of demonstrating emotional intelligence (or EQ) to reduce stress and gain perspective. 

What does EQ mean and how does it affect our professional life? At its core, EQ refers to your capacity to recognize, understand, and manage you own emotions, in addition to your capacity to recognize, understand, and influence the emotions of others. If you boil this definition down a bit further, it refers to each individual’s mindfulness and self-awareness

With workplace stress continuously on the rise, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that employers are starting to value EQ over IQ. In fact, according to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report , emotional intelligence is expected to become one of the top 10 job skills by 2020. Wondering why employers have started to place such an emphasis on emotional intelligence when making hiring decisions? 

Eight Reasons Why Employers Seek Candidates with High EQ 

1. They Can Handle Pressure. They tend to have better coping mechanisms and healthy support systems in place to handle higher levels of stress. 

2. They Appreciate and Collaborate with Others. They understand the importance of teamwork, and have well-developed people skills that help them in building relationships. 

3. They Listen. They pick up on people’s emotions through tone and body language. 

4. They Take Feedback. They tend to be less defensive and more open to feedback, especially when it involves areas for improvement. 

5. They Are Empathetic. They build trust and cohesiveness among team members. 

6. They Set Good Examples. They don’t get easily flustered when things don’t go according to plan. 

7. They Make Careful and Comprehensive Decisions. They leverage their mindfulness to make better judgements about how their decisions will impact others. 

8. They Have Found Their WorkFLOW. They utilize their awareness to become fully immersed and focused, aiming to tackle one problem or task at a time. 

By Reveille Group 12 Jul, 2017

Author: Matthew White
Physical Activity – Renewed Purpose

As Veterans, active duty service members, spouses, family members, donors, and industry business leaders arrived at the prestigious Plaza Hotel in New York City, for the Honoring America’s Wounded Warfighters Gala, it was hard not to be drawn to the bright lights and skyscrapers of New York City. I attended this same event a few years prior, and at that time, I had no clue how participating in sports again would positively impact my life and future.

By Reveille Group 20 Jun, 2017

Authors: Selah Rhodes & Wayne Waldon

Reveille is proud to announce the recent award of our General Services Administration (GSA) Professional Services Schedule (PSS) as a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned small business and HUBZone business. PSS provides existing and prospective Reveille government partners with a valuable platform for the procurement of our comprehensive and strategic management consulting services. Reveille’s work aligns perfectly with this contract vehicle, and we are thrilled to be able to offer our services below to federal clients:

  • Strategic Advisory Services
  • Integrated Consulting
  • Data Analytics and Visualization
  • Business Process Improvement
  • and more!

Through PSS, Reveille now offers streamlined access, pre-negotiated discounts, and an enhanced and time-saving process to access our firm’s core capabilities. For more information, please contact us at .

All the best,

Selah and Wayne

By Reveille Group 06 Apr, 2017

Author: Wayne Waldon

Have you ever taken a step back to look at how the chapters of your life have unfolded to-date?  I recently had the privilege of being a guest at The Sentinels of Freedom Scholarship Fund Annual Gala. While at this wonderful evening, in support of an amazing organization, I found myself reflecting on previous chapters in my life: my time in the military, my injury, and ultimately, my recovery. As I journeyed down memory lane, I was once again reminded of my good fortune, and sometimes that when life throws you a curveball (baseball is starting up again and seemed like an appropriate metaphor), you need to take a step back and focus on the things you can control.  

Curveball Context. 

I once had the greatest job in the world, serving in the U.S. Army Infantry. But in 2007, I was injured by an IED and was sent to Walter Reed, to go through treatment and subsequent recovery. As I went through Occupational Therapy, I couldn’t help but wonder:

  • What am I going to do once I’m out of the Army?
  • Where am I going to live?
  • Do I go back to school, or should I go back to work?
  • What’s my life going to be like post-injury?

As luck would have it, I was soon introduced to Mike Conklin, the CEO of Sentinels of Freedom, whose mission is to assist severely wounded and injured post-9/11 veterans, by providing tailored support that helps them transition back into civilian life. As I spoke with Mike, my future, that once seemed so unsure to me, began to look far more manageable.

A New Mission. 

Sentinels of Freedom Scholarship Recipients in attendance during the 2017 Annual Gala. Pictured (L-R) are Venol Raymond (Army veteran), Jason Church (Army veteran), Wayne Waldon (Army veteran), Paul Nawrath (Marine Corps veteran), and Michael Thompson (Navy veteran).

For the support that I received from the Sentinels of Freedom and their advocates, I will eternally be grateful. The impact they’ve had on my life, and the 292 veterans that they’ve helped to date, cannot be overstated. Since exiting from the Army in December of 2009, and receiving my MBA from Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business (while working full time for General Dynamics IT), I was constantly reminded that all of us struggle and that sacrifices must be made. Ultimately, it was the knowledge and skills gained through these life experiences that gave me the confidence to take the next step in my professional career.

In 2014, I decided to take a leap of faith with a colleague and friend, Selah Rhodes. We decided that with a passion for developing solutions and a vision of creating something bigger than ourselves, we’d start a business, which is now known as Reveille Group. Together we continue to look forward to each day that we spend growing our organization, one that fosters the same type of comradery and culture that make for high-performing teams in our nation’s military. An organization that leads to genuine relationships with our clients, as we work with them in achieving their goals.

Lessons Learned. 

Here are four valuable lessons from my recovery and transition back into civilian life that have taught me how to succeed in business.

1. It takes a team.  The Army is all about service leadership. But what does that actually mean? To put it simply, even though you may be in a position of “authority”, your responsibility is to those you have been entrusted with leading. From this perspective, you quickly realize that individual accomplishments pale in comparison to team achievements.

2. Be present.  Live in the moment. As cliché as it sounds, I now realize how much stress and frustration were a result of not being mindful of this. Having clarity of purpose, or in other words, being fully engaged is essential to even routine, daily activities, because committing your attention to the task at hand will lead to enhanced results.

3. Assess the situation.  Before making any major decision, have a clear understanding of the current situation and potential outcomes. Conduct your due diligence, ask the right questions, and understand the complexities of the situation. This process can take minutes, days, or even months; and though we’re often driven to “quickly fix” the problem, exercising discipline/patience on the front end will result in a superior outcome down the road.

4. Take (calculated) chances.  Perhaps my own personal viewpoint, but life is more fun if (and when) you do. I’m fortunate to be here today and my experiences to-date have only reinforced my belief that one of the most egregious disservices one can give themselves is living with the “what if…” or “I wish …”. Whatever the outcome, have the courage to pursue something and learn from the experience.

Taking One Step Back to Take Two Forward. 

As I take a step back to reflect on the progress we’ve made to date, I’m excited for what the future holds for Reveille Group and look forward to facing the challenges (and curveballs) that may lie ahead for us. I look forward to bringing everything full circle as I begin another life transition - from Sentinels of Freedom Scholarship recipient to one day serving as a contributor and continued supporter.

In closing – eternal thanks always to the men I served with overseas and love to my family.

I continue to be excited about my “new” family, Reveille Group, and where this next inning will take us.

Wishing all the best of fortune,


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