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Monthly tips to improve the business and practice of members of The Society for the Advancement of Consulting, LLC - Issue #12: September, 2004

Monthly tips to improve the business and practice of members of the Society for Advancement of Consulting, LLC
  • End each week with a constant reward -- a massage, special dinner, game of golf, etc. This brings a familiar conclusion to a week no matter how crazy or unpredictable it's been.
  • Do not assume you'll do a report, and don't ever promise it as a "deliverable." Most clients don't read them, or read them and forget them. They are often irrelevant if you've been regularly briefing the buyer and providing periodic written summaries.
  • Do you have a virtual team comprising designer, printer, audio expert, video expert, bookkeeper, lawyer, financial advisor, insurance expert, marketing guru, etc.? If not, start to assemble it now so that you don't have to scramble under pressure when one of those competencies is urgently needed.
  • You're often better dealing remotely with someone at a distance than face-to-face in your neighborhood. For example, it makes little difference if you ever see your web designer or the person who prints and duplicates your products, and they may be much more inexpensive in Wichita than they are in New York or London or Hong Kong.
  • Here's a neat marketing/sales device: Whenever a prospect or client asks you for some "easy" or "routine" work and doesn't expect it will cost much, reply that it's more cost effective to get someone beneath your talents to fulfill the request, but that if there's innovative, creative, and proactive work to be done, you're always available. (Doing ANY kind of work at low fee will influence perceptions of all your work and fees.)
  • If you don't know BEFORE you enter the room at least some people with whom you want to network and seek introductions, then you're just there to gamble you'll stumble on someone (or you like the free food).
  • Use Zagat's online to find outstanding restaurants when traveling to entertain well or just to give yourself a treat. 
  • If you're dealing with major projects and they're in your general geography so that you drive your own vehicle, it's tacky to charge for mileage. (You can still deduct it for tax purposes.) 
  • When you're unsure about what or whether to charge when a client has a preparatory phase which may well lead into a major project, charge a fee that you will credit back against the larger project should the client decide to go ahead (and you are the alternative). That protects everyone. 
  • If the person to whom you are talking cannot tell you, specifically, which budget the project will be funded by, then that person is NOT the buyer.

Suggested Reading: The Soul of a New Machine, by Tracy Kidder (Little, Brown). A golden oldie, Pulitzer Prize winner, still a great example of creativity struggling through corporate surroundings.

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