Monthly Archives: May 2012

Something just didn’t look right…

Warning — Geek Story Ahead! My brother Jim is a retired civil engineer. When we get together, we often share war stories. This one has a good lesson for consultants.

It was Friday afternoon, and it was time to head into town for a cold beer and hot meal,” Jim began. He was working on a new power plant out on the North Dakota plains. It was hot and dusty, and that cold beer sounded great.

“Time for one final pass around the construction site. Hmmm — that hole they dug today for new building footings just didn’t look right.” The cold beer called, but Jim decided he better check this out. Good thing he did, too.

During his college years, Jim had worked summers with the county surveyor’s office.  As such, he was pretty handy with a transit. So he decided to confirm a few measurements.

Sure enough, the hole was in the wrong place — by about 50 feet! And the schedule called for pouring concrete that weekend. So, rather than enjoying that frosty brew, Jim shut down the project.

As he explained, “Catching this mistake more than paid my salary for my entire career with my company. Had they filled those footings with concrete, the cost to fix that mistake would have been many millions of dollars.”

The following week, the hole was “moved” to its proper location, and the project proceeded on schedule.

The lesson for consultants is this – if something doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t. As a consultant, you are paid for your professional judgment. So follow your hunches, which are often the result of years of professional experience.

The cold beer can wait!

© 2012, All rights reserved.

To the entrepreneur’s wife on Mother’s Day…

“Behind every successful man is a woman who is still amazed.” Or so the old joke goes. In reality, success as an entrepreneur is often highly dependent on a supporting spouse. If you don’t have that support, it may never happen.

This post was inspired by a Mother’s Day e-mail from Perry Marshall of AdWords fame. Perry tells how his wife Laura continually supported him — through thick and thin — in his many entrepreneurial adventures. What a great tribute!

Similar story here. More than once,  my co-conspirator Mary (see the story on the goofy hat) gave me the nudge I needed. That support and confidence made all the difference.

To wit:

1978- Frustrated in my engineering position, I saw an ad for a sales engineer. Even though I’d never done sales, I ranted and raved that I could probably do the job. Finally, Mary piped up and said, “Why don’t you just send in your resume, and see what happens?”

  • She was right, of course. Incidentally, I didn’t get the job, but eventually I did get into technical  sales. (Persistence pays.) That experience was a great help later when making my own JumpToConsulting.

-1982- Fired from the technology startup I had helped get off the ground, I ranted and raved about working for others. Having moonlighted in the past, I floated the idea of hanging out my shingle. Mary said, “Why don’t you try it and see what happens?”

  • Once again, she was right. (Did I mention she also saw the writing on the wall at the startup several months prior to my firing?) I promised not to gamble the house, so I gave myself three months to book business or it was back to Corporate Land. It didn’t work, but eventually I did make the final JumpToConsulting. (Once again, persistence pays,)

-1987- Two corporate jobs later, I was REALLY itching to do my own thing. It looked like my corporate sales job might disappear, so I started making alternate plans. More ranting and raving, and more support from Mary —“Why don’t you try it and see what happens?”

  • Success this time! But, the first day in business the stock market crashed, which was very SCARY. But we survived, and we’re now closing in on almost 30 years as full time consulting engineers. Behind the scenes, Mary kept the books and ran my office. (And as a bonus, I get to sleep with the bookkeeper – she just groans when I say that.)

Along the way, Mary also found time to mother two boys into successful young men, who now have their own families and who blessed us with six wonderful grandchildren.

So thanks, Mary!  With all my love and gratitude,


P.S. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who support your entrepreneurs… and all who are entrepreneurs in your own right!

© 2012 – 2016, All rights reserved.

Resource Review – The $100 Startup

Chris Guillebeau’s latest book (The $100 Startup) contains a wealth of information for anybody considering the jump to ANY small business (not just consulting.) It is a mix of inspiration and real-world examples backed up with proven business advice.

This is Chris’s second book. The first, the Art of Nonconformity, encourages people to follow their passions and live their lives with gusto. But it is not just talk — Chris actually lives that way.  In addition to starting several successful businesses along with a very successful blog, he is but a few countries from personally visiting EVERY country in the world. All this at under 35 years old!

The $100 Startup, however, is not about Chris nor his latest adventures, but is based on real business research. This book details 50 case studies on successful micro-businesses started from modest investments (many under $100.) The case studies were derived from a survey Chris conducted of over 1500 people who, like Chris, have built businesses earning $50,000 year or more. (Yes, some were even consultants.)

In addition to the success stories, the book is loaded with useful charts, checklists, and other tools to help you start your own business. All practical nuts and bolts stuff. The stories or tools alone would make the book worthwhile, but couple those with his insights and advice, and you have a winner.

Two thumbs up! (Enjoyed is so much, I actually read it through twice.)

The $100 Startup, by Chris Guillebeau
Crown Business, 2012  (Available May 8, 2012)
ISBN 978-0-307-95132-6
book website:
blog website:×5/

P.S. – Chris  does address consulting in his book, and even includes an Instant Consultant Biz template (pages 43-44), which is also available for download.

© 2012, All rights reserved.