How Stephen Networked to Grow a Six-Figure Consulting Business

How Stephen Steers networked to grow a six-figure consulting business

Consulting is an excellent business opportunity if you have the right skills. Startup costs and overhead are low, but the income potential is high.

In this interview, Stephen Steers shares how he grew his consulting business and sustained the pandemic’s massive impact.

For more inspiring stories of consultants, please read our interviews with Robin Waite and Paul Minors.

👇 Key Takeaways

  • Stephen started his business to be the help that he didn’t have as a sales rep
  • He ran his business as a side hustle for 4 years before going full-time
  • Stephen primarily grew his business through in-person networking early on
  • Why paid networking groups have been the best strategy for growing his business
  • Stephen doesn’t make a lot of money directly from book sales, but the book helps him to make connections


Business Name: Steers Consulting Group
Website URL:
Founder: Stephen Steers
Business Location: USA/ Remote
Year Started: 2015
Number of Employees/Contractors/Freelancers: 1-3

How much revenue and profit does the business generate?

Consulting revenue can be streaky at times but it averages out to about $9-10k per month with 70+% profit. Consulting is good business – especially for part time.

Tell us about yourself and your business.

Since I was a young man, I always wanted to have my own business. I remember reading about entrepreneurs like Reginald F. Lewis and wanting to be like them. I also loved the idea of the freedom a business can create. When I looked around at the wealthiest people I knew, all of them owned businesses. It was natural for me to want this.

The first business I ever had was selling ice pops in high school. I’d go to Costco and buy the 100-pack of ice pops and sell them around the dorms for a quarter a piece. It was a tidy profit that gave me enough pocket money to do my laundry and get a Powerade after practice. 

When I got to college, I started selling t-shirts. I bought a t-shirt printer and all the equipment. I would go to various events around North Carolina and sell them. This generated some pocket money, but was far from a business. After college, I had dreams of starting something but I didn’t know what to start. So I took to visiting local yard sales, buying items, and relisting them on Craigslist for a profit. I paid my bills and student loans with that for over a year. 

Eventually, though, I went into sales. I started out in software sales, and then, through a series of beautiful accidents, I landed in consulting, where I’ve been ever since.

Today, I work with professional services companies. I help them tell the stories that get their customers excited to buy so that they can increase close rates, speed up sales cycles and grow revenue.

It’s fun and fulfilling work because I get to be the help I didn’t have when I started. You’ll see more of what I mean below.

Stephen Steers speaking at a conference
Photo courtesy of Stephen Steers

How does your business make money?

My business makes money in the following ways:

  1. Retainer and project-based consulting
  2. Providing keynotes
  3. Offering sales training to professional services companies

I launched my first book in late 2023, so I’ve opened that up as a revenue stream. Book sales are drops in the bucket but a great tool to start conversations. The book also gets me in front of relevant audiences that would be open to consulting etc. 

I also have plans to create some digital products and courses soon. Stay tuned!

What was your inspiration for starting the business?

I worked as a sales rep at a startup in NYC. I chose to take a bottom-of-the-barrel sales job so I could learn the ropes and what it took to build a business. Even at that early stage, I knew that if you have sales, you have a business.

Unfortunately, like most startups, the founders didn’t know what they were doing. And as such, they didn’t provide any employee training. I’d ask questions to management and other reps but didn’t get much help. It was clear that I was going to have to figure things out on my own. 

Eventually, the company wound up in some turmoil, and they laid off a bunch of us. Moments after I got the ax, HR escorted me from the conference room. I saw one of the founders walking towards me and attempted to shake his hand in thanks. He blew me off. I went around the company, said my goodbyes, and walked out the door to restart my life. 10 minutes later, I received this email from him: 

It’s a wild email to get. Validation, on the one hand. My experience was not the easiest with this team. Frustration and anger on the other. I couldn’t help but shake my head, thinking: “If you knew that this was the case, how come you didn’t do anything about it?” 

I had an enemy now and my goal became to help founders to be stewards of their sales reps’ careers. This feeling inspired me to start the business. I now had a mission: To be the help that I didn’t have.

How and when did you launch the business?

I incorporated in December of 2015 while working my sales gig full time. I made it known to folks in my NYC startup network that I was looking to do consulting. I dipped my toes in the water with some consulting projects. I didn’t care if they were free. I just wanted to get going. I gave advice, networked, and built things to get my sea legs. I didn’t go full-time until the fall of 2019.

Stephen Steers
Photo courtesy of Stephen Steers

How much money did you invest to start the business?

Consulting startup costs were super low. Which, if you ask me, is one of the most attractive things about consulting. There are no coders to hire, no funds to raise etc. It’s perfect for those that are ready to bootstrap. My startup costs were under $500. The money went towards a Zoom subscription, a website, phone bill and LinkedIn premium. The rest was all networking and hustle.  

How did you find your first few clients or customers?

I’m an in-person type. I love life IRL. I translate best to a prospect when we can see and engage with each other. That’s one of my strengths. So events, speaking, and podcasts are my best lead generation channels. 

When I lived in NYC, I had a role on the organizing team of a few events. Most of them were spaces for my then ideal client profile at the time: startup founders. 

For one of the events, Founders Friday, I had the fortune to interview founders in a room with 20-50 people.

As part of the community-building efforts of the event, we had a “Gives and Asks” segment at the end of every session. This segment gave attendees the chance to share resources and recommendations.

We followed the segment up with networking and strong coffee. I have fond memories. On one fateful day, one of the attendees raised her hand and asked for advice on exactly what I do. I went over, and we had a conversation and boom. Three weeks later, I was in business. 

Tell us about your first year in business.

The first year in business was a rough one. I launched my consultancy at the end of 2019 and started 2020 like a rocket ship. I booked a keynote at a Microsoft Conference in NYC. I got flown out to teach a series of sales workshops in Istanbul, Turkey. I had a bubbling pipeline. I felt like I had a handle on this entrepreneurship thing. Oh, how wrong I was.

While I had a strong start and got a few clients in contract, the next thing I knew, everything changed. My prospects were downsizing and closing up shop because of the bug. It was frustrating and soul-crushing in many ways. 

Further, NYC was a tough place to be. Stores and gyms closed, and the energy was strange. I realized that NYC, in its pandemic state, wasn’t the right environment for me. It wasn’t conducive to growing my business or to my mental state. 

There were a few months where zero dollars came in. Luckily I’d saved some funds and six months of runway. The stress started to mount inside my apartment and out, so I decided to do something drastic…

I moved to Playa del Carmen, Mexico to wait things out. 

It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. As a sign from the universe, I hit the highest earning month of my career shortly after my move. Though my service offering wasn’t crystal clear. I had a glimmer of hope for what was possible.

I knew I was on the right path.

Stephen Steers on stage
Photo courtesy of Stephen Steers

What strategies did you use to grow the business?

The most fruitful strategy for my business is joining paid networking groups. BY FAR.

Think of a house party. For the most part, everyone is vetted by someone else. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have gotten the invite. That allows even some of the most successful people to relax and enjoy themselves in the room. 

The groups are full of like-minded business people who want to grow and help others. A good group usually has some mastermind component. Masterminds are a great way to build community and get help when you need it.

Furthermore, we’re able to work with and hire each other because there’s a level of trust built from being a member. Shared values, etc.

I’ve made great friendships from my groups. I have CEO friends of 8 and 9-figure companies. We play chess, share memes, and I can ask for poignant advice when I get stuck. Oh yea, they throw a few referrals my way every once in a while as well.

In short, join paid groups! 

Tell us about your team.

You can be mini and be mighty. Consulting bears that out in spades. I have dreams of growing my bottom line while keeping head count as low as possible. 

My team is currently composed of freelancers. I have an epic freelancer who handles my outbound email and content. I’ve had executive assistants and social media managers.

In the future, I’d like to hire a consultant to handle some of the client fulfillment. A team of 3-4 would be more than enough to build out my vision, get clients great results, and give everyone involved a great quality of life.

Stephen Steers
Photo courtesy of Stephen Steers

What are your future plans for the business?

The goal of consulting three levels: 

  • Level 1: Freedom. I want the ability to live where I want, work when I want, and work with whom I want. I want to do this all while charging a handsome price for the outcomes I help to create for my clients.
  • Level 2: Build predictable cash flow through book and training sales. I plan to write more books as well. Predictable cash flow + freedom gives me two key ingredients to invest my time into creating.
  • Level 3: Acquire and grow businesses that need my skill set. I’d like to build a portfolio of businesses owned by a holding company. That way, I’ll be able to create real equity and exit projects when the time is right.

How did you make the transition from side hustle to full-time?

This was a change in mentality more than anything else. I had a full-time job and the company started to slow operations. Jumping into full-time was almost a forcing function and the timing was right. In short, I didn’t have a choice. I thought I could get a client faster than I could get a job. I’d also own all of the upside if I bet on myself. A no-brainer.

What was the turning point when you knew your business was successful?

I’m still waiting for that, haha! But in all seriousness, it happens every single day. I’m extremely lucky. I get to live where I want. I run my own schedule. I have the freedom to live my life on my terms. I’m not at the revenue numbers I’d like to hit yet – I’m close-  but success means more of exactly what I’m doing and living right now. I’ll just have access to bigger and brighter minds from better and better-paid groups. 

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned growing the business?

You can’t do it alone. No matter how HOT you think you are, you need to ask for help. Whether that’s seeking coaches, joining communities, etc, go out there and seek counsel. Business is a full contact sport and you may run quickly but you’ll need a team to get you to the next level.

Stephen Steers
Photo courtesy of Stephen Steers

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome?

2020 was ROUGH. It started off with so much promise. By the middle of the year most of my prospects in contract were going out of business. I didn’t win the revenue that I was planning on. As a result,  my business nearly cratered into the ground to the point where I was about to quit and go find a job. However, I stuck with it. 

The most difficult part of 2020 was having to become more digital. My in-person skill set was curtailed and I was forced to change up and learn new ways to get in front of customers. I’m still learning but the fact that I haven’t quit is proof that the challenge is behind me. 

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?

Read more. Get a coach and keep putting yourself out there.

What is your favorite quote?

“When a man gets it into his head to do something, and when he exclusively occupies himself in that design, he must succeed, whatever the difficulties. “ ― Giacomo Casanova

If you had to start from scratch, where would you begin?

If I had to start from scratch, I’d do 3 things:

First: I’d dig into my network.

I’d download all of my LinkedIn connections. I’d organize them and find the top 100 – 200 people in my network to contact and restart conversations. Likely 10-20 percent would reply and have conversations. A few would get on the phone and I’d update them on what I’m up to, ask for their advice and if they know anyone I should speak to. I’d keep working on that until I had a few leads in the pipeline.

Second: I’d find 2-3 conferences that have the subjects and attendees that are relevant for me.

I’d either buy a ticket as an attendee or play Lobby Con (hang out in the lobby or the hotel bar/ restaurant where the conference is taking place). I’d meet with and network with as many people as possible.

Thirdly: I’d go back to past clients, re-engage with those that respond and ask if they need any help or if they know any one.

From there, I’m sure I’d win a new client or two and be back on the board.

What are some of your favorite books, blogs, podcasts, or YouTube channels?

I consume A LOT of content.

I read 50+ books a year. Everything from business, and personal development to fiction and philosophy. It’s been a game changer for me and my ability to retain information and for keeping me sharp and learning.  

I listen to multiple podcasts each day – always on 2x speed. While I’m riding my bike to the gym, while shopping in the supermarket, or while I’m prospecting for new clients. 



  • PBD Podcast – One of the few podcasts where you can hear both sides of an issue and decide for yourself.
  • Salesman Podcast – Always great to hear how others in my profession are thinking and making progress.
  • Wealthion Podcast – Great insight into the micro and macro sentiments of investing.
  • A Typical Disgusting Display: A Podcast by Writers for Writers Who Hate Writing – (this one speaks to my Standup Comedy side and helps me get past writer’s block)
  • Tim Dillon Podcast – I cry laughing
  • We Might Be Drunk – I also cry laughing 

That said, I’ve got 4 books I read every year, no matter what.

The Almanak of Naval Ravikant:

  • I’ve read this book 4-5 times and it’s by far the most highlighted/dog-eared book that I own. There’s no fluff in the book at all. boils every concept down to the rue and every time I read it I learn something new.
  • My favorite quote from the book is:
    • “Your goal in life is to find the people, business, project, or art that needs you the most. There is something out there just for you. What you don’t want to do is build checklists and deci sion frameworks built on what other people are doing. You’re never going to be them. You’ll never be good at being somebody else.”

The Alchemist – Paolo Coelho- this book reminds me to keep searching, to seek counsel and to keep dreaming.

  • My favorite quote from the book is:
    • “We are travelers on a cosmic journey,stardust,swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share.This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity.” — Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist)

Jonathan Livingston Seagull – Richard Bach: 

  • I saw a video of Kobe Bryant’s visit to the San Diego Chargers. A player asked him for a book recommendation. Kobe recommended this book. It outlines an important lesson: greatness comes from being a contraían and an uncompromising belief in your dreams.
  • My favorite quote from the book is:
    • “Imagination is an old soul.”

Outwitting the Devil – Napoleon Hill

  • The story of their book is fascinating. Written in the 1930s Hill’s wife read it and asked him not to publish it until after he died. Upon his death, his wife decided not to publish it either and it fell into his estate archives. It was finally published in 2012. The book is a conversation between a man who figured out how to contact the devil and force him to confess to all the ways he manipulates mankind. There are so many timeless learnings about life and setting intentions:
  • My favorite quote from the book is:
    • “Search accurately into the lives of men and women who achieve enduring success and you will find without exception that their success has been in exact proportion to the extent they surmounted failure. The life of every successful person loudly acclaims that which every true philosopher knows: that every failure brings with it the seed of equivalent success.”

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