The 10K mission is to give people the freedom to do more of the work they love. For Salesforce customers, that means building solutions that bring business initiatives to life and make users’ lives easier. For our independent Salesforce experts, it’s about connecting them with cool projects and customers that speak to their passions and interests. Today we are featuring Lamin Ceesay, an independent Salesforce architect and entrepreneur.
How did you know it was time to go independent?
It was all about freedom. I wanted to be in control of my career and gain the ability to choose challenges that excite me.
I also knew there was a real business opportunity. At the time, I noticed that most of the Salesforce contractors focused on mid-size customers. There was a gap for startups and smaller businesses – companies that didn’t have big-time budgets but still had room to get more out of their Salesforce investment. I wanted to help those smaller companies.
At the same time, I deeply cared about giving motivated and younger talent an opportunity to develop their skills. The best way to do that was to build my own consultancy. It’s been three years since I went independent, and my business now has five full-time employees and two contractors.
What did your first few months look like?
There was a big learning curve. Running a business was totally new for me. I was surprised by all that goes into being the boss besides the technical project work. It’s been three years since I went independent, but I’m still learning about sales, marketing, networking, and how to strengthen the positioning of our services.
There was a lot of experimenting in the beginning. With some trial and error, I got better at hiring the right talent and setting the right price points to break into the market. I took a consulting workshop that was incredibly helpful and connected with other folks who helped with some key business decisions.
What have you grown to love about being an independent consultant?
I get to choose which clients I work with. This is a significant motivator because there are industries I’m more passionate about than others. Being the boss also allows me to drive solutions for our customers. I choose the approach for how to get to the root of their needs, how to act as an extension for their team, and how to get the job done.
Going independent has also given me room to be more active in the Salesforce community and contribute to the development of younger talent. I love co-hosting the Toronto Marketing Cloud Community group – it’s one of the ways I’m able to provide training and mentorship.
Are there any lessons you can share from your journey?
Prioritize your pricing and positioning from day one. When my business entered the market we offered pricing customers couldn’t refuse, but that ultimately played against us. It’s difficult to raise your prices once they’re set and relationships are built.
To find your market niche, do some competitive analysis. Compare your offerings to consulting firms, other independent consultants, etc. You don’t want to compete with the big players, but you have to find a place to compete and provide value.
Also, networking is key. Connecting with the right people can help you overcome imposter syndrome and answer some difficult questions that come with starting a business. Research other agency owners who already walked the walk. This will help you find your blind spots.
The Salesforce ecosystem has so many evangelists from all walks of life. Reading about their journeys motivated and helped me envision what I wanted to accomplish. They made it seem realistic and gave me confidence that I could build my own Salesforce business too.
Surround yourself with positive people who can support you on your journey – this will help you take the leap.