Monthly Archives: March 2013

Help Each Other…

As a consultant, you can’t know everything. Sometimes you need to bring in other experts. When you do, it is much easier if you have greased the skids ahead of time.

Here is a geek story from my college days.

Ernie was an ME (mechanical engineering) student, and a good one at that. However, he was struggling with a mandatory class, EE (electrical engineering) for MEs. It was pretty simple stuff, but he still didn’t get it.

So, he asked my roommate and me, both EEs, to help him out. We all lived in the same place, and that is what we did. Plus we all drank a lot of beer together, a common lubricant for dealing with engineering problems.

“I just can’t seem to get it,” said Ernie. “But Ernie, it’s so simple,” I replied, when I tutored him.  He still struggled, but through rote learning he was able to regurgitate enough to pass. He went on to graduate as an ME.

The following semester, I had a mandatory ME class for EEs on thermodynamics. Like Ernie, I just couldn’t seem to get it.  “But Daryl, it’s so simple,” he said when tutored me. Like Ernie, I was also able to regurgitate enough to pass, and went on to graduate as an EE.

To this day, I still don’t understand thermodynamics, nor do I have a burning desire to do so. But later, I realized the real lesson was in learning to cooperate with colleagues. Without that mutual help, both Ernie and I might not have made it to graduation.

So, help a colleague when needed, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. And establish those helping networks ahead of time.

Finally, don’t over look the benefits of beer, particularly if you are an engineer!

© 2013, All rights reserved.

Questions from a reader on LLCs…

Here is the synopsis of a recent e-mail exchange from a JTC candidate that you may find of interest.

I’ve edited it and sanitized it (personal information is left out), but I’m sure C will recognize herself.

Hi Daryl,

I came to your website from Mister Money Mustache, and I’ve decided to throw my hat in the circle and JumpToConsulting.

I currently work for XXX and intend to do the consulting on the side.  We are planning to follow the MMM path and retire in 5 years, so I decided I wanted to try and make the stash bigger.

I’ve already picked the company name. I am currently working on the website and need to register my trade name.

I’ve received different advice regarding setting up as a sole practitioner or as an LLC. Can you share some advice?

Finally, would you put LLC on your business cards?


Hello C,

Congratulations on your decision to make your own JumpToConsulting! It sounds like it is a good fit with your with your retirement plans too.

By the way, I am a big MMM fan myself. (Hey, he’s another engineer who broke free…)

Here are some comments:

Recommend the LLC over a sole practitioner. From a marketing perspective, I think it lends more credibility — it shows you are serious. It may also provide some legal protection, but you should talk to an attorney for clarification.

Recommend using an attorney to do the paperwork. Yes, you can do it yourself, but to me it is worth a few hundred bucks to know it has been done right.

– Ask around to find an attorney who specializes in small businesses. I prefer small firms (one or two lawyers) as they generally cost less and are more personal. Plus, I just like dealing with small practices. I also do the same thing with accounting, and have used a two person CPA firm for many years.

However, if you are just testing the waters, the sole practitioner may be OK for now. We did that for nine years as part time consultants, but incorporated as a Subchapter S corp when we we went full time in 1987. (LLCs were not popular then, so the Sub S made the most sense.) If you change later, however, you may need to update printed materials (letterhead, cards, brochures, etc.) to reflect the LLC status.

Regarding LLC on your business cards, my understanding is that if you are an LLC (or any other type of corp) you should put that on your business cards. Check with your attorney, but I believe that gives notice to your clients that you are incorporated. I’d do it anyway as it enhances your marketing image.

Really like your company name! Yes, you want to register it. You may want to trademark it too. We trademarked EMIGURU which is our website and which we use in our advertising. Glad we did, as it gave us leverage when a cyber-squatter picked up the .net and .org extensions and then used them in a competitive way. Because of the trademark, we were able to stop that. However, it cost us about $2K to resolve the issue.

– So, when you register your domain, pick up the .net and .org extensions, in addition to .com. You might want to pick up others, too, but those are the most common.

It sounds like you have identified your initial market place – needs, geography, type of business, etc. This is good, as it lets you focus your marketing efforts. But be ready to make changes as you move into those markets as you learn more.

— The markets will guide you. Try not to spread yourself too thin, though, or go in too many directions. “Do a little, do it well — you’ve done a lot.”

-One more piece of advice. Since you will be consulting part time, be particularly careful to avoid conflicts of interest. You don’t want to jeopardize your day job. And keep a low profile — petty jealousies can arise (the voice of experience speaking.)

Finally, I applaud your decisions, both the MMM-path and the JTC-path. I’ve followed both paths for many years, and they have paid off for me.

Thanks for reading my blog, and best wishes in your new adventures!


Have your own quick question? Drop me an email (just use the Contact form)  and perhaps you’ll be featured in a blog post too.

© 2013, All rights reserved.

Some Engineering Humor…

This is a true story. Not even the names have been changed…

Mary (my wife) was at the beauty shop, getting her hair done. She couldn’t help hearing the conversation in the next chair. The discussion centered around the new boy friend of the customer’s niece. Here is a summary of the exchanges:

Hairdresser – “So, it sounds pretty serious with your niece and her young man at the university.”

Customer – “Yes, he seems really nice. The only problem is that he is studying engineering. You know, engineers can be kind of strange…”

Mary – (Interrupting) – “Tell me about it, I’m married to one!”

Customer – (Embarrassed) – “Oh, I didn’t mean…”

Mary – “Don’t worry, it’s true – they are different.” But then she added, “Its OK, though. We’ve been married over 40 years…”

I guess we engineers do have a reputation to uphold. Without us, there would be no Dilbert, right?

Reprinted from Kimmel Gerke Bullets, our client newsletter.

© 2013 – 2017, All rights reserved.

Top 10 Reasons to Become an Independent Consultant…

With apologies to David Letterman…

10 – MONEY Can lead to Financial Independence. It ultimately did for me.

9 – PLACE Choose your own work location. Worked out of my home for the past 30+ years, and must say I really enjoy the commute. The view from the patio is nice too.

8 – TIME – Set your own schedule. Never did like the idea of 8 to 5. Or worse, never liked the idea of unpaid overtime. Much better to be PAID for working on a panic project.

7 – SECURITY – Can’t be fired. Took two layoffs to figure this out. Real security is having multiple “bosses” — no single client can put you out of business.

Do some good, have some fun, make some money. Nuff said.

5 – INDEPENDENCE – Call your own shots. Stop cleaning up messes made by others. As a minimum, you at least have the fun of making the messes in the first place.

Be a leader, not a follower. Be the captain of your own ship, even if it is just a rowboat.  Besides, little rowboats can often go where the big boys can’t.

3 – LEGACY –
Make the world a better place.
Leave the world better than you found it. Like teaching, your counsel and advice may well outlive you.

No need to conform. Work when you want, where you want, and as much or as little as you want. You can even wear goofy hats!

That is what really drives Uncle Daryl. Rule your world! Do it YOUR way!

Upon reflection, these top ten rules apply to almost ANY small business!

© 2013 – 2014, All rights reserved.

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