Monthly Archives: November 2013
Always love it when a former engineer does well! And Bob Bly, a chemical engineer by training, has done very well as a marketing consultant who specializes in copywriting and related services.
Bob also shares his knowledge and ideas through a free e-mail newsletter, which I have received for several years. He has written 80 books, and sells numerous educational packages through his newsletter and web site (www.bly.com).
Like so many of us, Bob did not originally plan on becoming a consultant. But his love of writing soon caught up with him. Although a degreed ChemE, his first employer hired him as a technical writer. He then moved into technical marketing, and the rest, as the old saying goes, is history.
Bob combines the analytical mind of an engineer with the creative mind of a writer. How is that for a niche? He is also an astute business person, and at 56 is financially secure. But he still works 12 hour days, which he describes a pure fun.
Here are Bob’s responses to my Success Story questionnaire. Very succint!
(1) What prompted you to consider consulting (running your own business?) Was there an event, like a layoff, or was it just the itch to be on your own?
My boss asked me to move from NYC to Wichita Kansas in 1981 and my fiancee would not go. So I quit my job.
(2) How has it been going? Looks like you’ve been at it a while, so obviously you are established in your business.
Full time freelance copywriter since February 1982.
(3) What do you like MOST about consulting (your own business?)
Writing copy for my clients– copywriting is what I love to do.
(4) What do you like LEAST about consulting (your won business?
Advising clients who know less than me, are not successful, and need help, but then when I advise them, argue with me.
(5) How do you get your clients? (BTW, the number one question I get asked when someone finds out I’m a consultant.)
I have been around so long people know who I am and where to find me — I get more inquiries than I can handle every week of the year.
(6) How do you set your fees? (Second question I get asked.)
My fee schedule is attached. (Note – Please contact Bob directly for his rate sheet at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
(7) How did you decide what to consult about (or focus on?) And why? (Third question I get asked.)
I am a copywriter and do that because when I had staff positions, that was the only part of the job I enjoyed.
(8) Lessons learned since you started consulting?
Most clients won’t take most of your advice most of the time.
(9) What next? Do you plan to do this the rest of your career (like I did?) Or is this a stepping stone to other things?
I plan to do this until I no longer can.
(10) Finally, what one piece of advice would you give to our fellow engineers who might be thinking about consulting (or going out on their own?)
There is a lot of competition today. What will set you apart from the rest of the pack? If you don’t know, then don’t do it.
Thank you, Bob, for sharing your story! Although I’ve not personally met Bob, we’ve exchanged e-mails, and I’ve found him to be a very gracious person.
PS – Just purchased Bob’s latest Kindle book (Don’t Wear a Cowboy Hat Unless You Are a Cowboy – And Other Grumblings From a Cranky Curmudgeon). Could not put it down… 75 of his favorite pearls of wisdom. Humorous yet blunt… Bob is another Andy Rooney!
© 2013, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.
This recently arrived in my mail box, and I wanted to share it. It certainly made my day!
This is from Catherine at ViewThatData.com, who I featured a few months back in an earlier post. Sounds like she is making great progress towards her goals of both occupational independence and financial independence.
I hope this finds you well. I am doing fine.
I am very hopeful, enthusiastic, and excited to jump to this next phase in my life and career.
I wanted to take a minute and give you a brief update. You have been so helpful and inspirational in my jump to consulting that I wanted to keep in touch.
As you may remember – I took your advice and set my business up as an LLC. I am currently working on getting my application together for both the minority business enterprise as well as a veteran owned business. I recently got certified in my profession as a GISP (GIS Professional).
I finally got the go ahead with that church and finished their project (who I thought was going to be my first client but they weren’t).
I represented a friend at a book fair to sell her book and the man in the table beside me is a historian and turns out he often needs maps for his books so I gave him my business card. Within a month he contacted me and I have since completed 3 maps for his new book.
I have 2 nonprofits that within the week have given the word that they want to move forward with their proposals. With one of them saying not only did they want to do the training I proposed but wanted to know if I would be interested in fee-based task services for things they needed help with.
So it has been utterly amazing – every proposal I have put out has gotten approved so far (there have been 6 so far). I know that this won’t always be the case but it is a great start, plus all invoices have been paid with promptly.
And honestly I haven’t even began marketing full force – I have been concentrating on admin activities like setting up my books, professional certifications, minority and veteran certifications, etc.
We have had a major life change in my family and my goals have now changed in relation to them. My new goal is to be able to go full time with my business and become a full time consultant within the next 1 – 2 years and work from my home.
Part of the dream with that avenue is to work hard when I’m working and have the flexibility to travel several times a year as opposed to the vacation leave limits I currently have.
Here is my reply:
Congratulations on all the progress — that is great!
But don’t let up on your marketing. BTW, your certifications and applications for minority/veteran business status are marketing efforts too. Consulting is all about “credibility and visibility.” Sounds like you’ve been doing a good job on both.
In any event, it occurred to me that your email would make a nice blog post — perhaps offering some inspiration to others who might be on the fence regarding consulting. An update from “them that’s doing.” I like to do “success stories” and yours certainly falls into that category.
Glad to hear things are going so well!
Way to go, Catherine!
P.S. Been a little lax on blog posts here – October was busy with both work and fun stuff, including an RV trip following the old Santa Fe trail as we returned to AZ from MN. The consulting biz lets us be location independent too — and the independence is great!
© 2013, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.
Three rifle volleys, followed by the mournful sound of Taps. The folded flag was presented to his widow, and then it was all over.
He was laid to rest among his comrades at Fort Snelling, right next to the Minneapolis St. Paul airport. That seems appropriate for this old B-24 crew member from World War II.
It was cold that December day, about 20 degrees below zero. The air was clear, and the bitter wind blew across the prairie, just as it had when he was a young farm kid from northern Minnesota. Like so many others, he simply answered the call to serve.
When the war was over, he used the GI-bill to get a teaching degree. For over thirty years he taught Industrial Arts at inner city schools in St. Paul, MN. The farm kid teaching city kids how to make things. Beautiful things, too. And also molding them into young men.
He married and fathered two daughters. Then cancer struck down his wife, and he was alone. But he was smitten by a young librarian at his school, who he courted the old fashioned way. She was smitten too, and they soon married.
That is when I met Bob. Our wives were sisters, so we became brothers-in-law. There are many good memories with this quiet man who was also old enough to be my father.
Being modest, he never talked about the war. Nor did he ever wave the flag or even participate in veteran functions. No bragging or grandstanding. When the war was over, he simply got on with his life.
The last time I saw him, he was suffering the ravages of Alzheimer’s. His short term memory was shot, but his long term memory was still intact.
When we stopped by for a quick visit, he was paging through a book on the B-24 Liberator. Being a history fan, I asked him about it.
With some gentle prodding, he was soon telling stories of his wartime experiences. About the bombing missions over the Romanian oil fields. About seeing a strange and very fast German fighter with no propeller. About being a ball turret gunner. And more.
All fascinating stuff. Later, my wife told me her sister confided, with a tear, that he had not talked like that to anyone for over a year. Two weeks later, a heart attack mercifully ended his final battle. I still treasure that last conversation.
So what does this have to do with consulting? Nothing, really, but somehow it just seemed right share this story on Veterans Day. Rest in Peace, SGT Melbye.
And thanks (from a non-vet) to ALL who have served!
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