daryl

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On handling “stumbles”…

Here is a reply I left at one of my favorite blogs/web sites —  Pamela Slim — a champion of starting and building small businesses (not just consulting.)

In her post, Pamela discusses how to react after a “stumble,” including her own examples.

She asked for comments, so I shared mine:

One of the best pieces of advice I got on “stumbling” was shared with me almost forty years ago. As a brand new sales engineer (I had pivoted from ten years of design work) my boss sent me to a sales training class.

During a break, I asked a a more experienced classmate how he handled losing a sale.

His reply was “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on. ”

He went on, “Furthermore, if you’re not failing (stumbling), you are not trying hard enough. Every failure is a learning experience. After twenty years, I still lose sales but I’m doing just fine. ”

Ten years later, that advice was invaluable when I started my own engineering consulting firm. Actually, I started twice, and the first time I stumbled badly.

But I tried again later, and then the first day in business (1987) the stock market crashed. Scary, but I succeeded anyway.

That same advice sustained me again when my late business partner and I started a training operation in conjunction with the consulting. It took us four times to get that right.

We eventually ended training over 12,000 students in hundreds of multi-day classes around the world. What a blast! Glad we didn’t let a few stumbles stop us from that adventure.

Pam is so right! Don’t stop – just step back and figure out what to do next — and next — and next. It took Thomas Edison hundreds of trials until he got the light bulb right. But when he did, he lit the world.

Yes, I’ve discussed this topic here before, but it is worth hearing again.  Remember the jingle we all heard as kids, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

But before you do, back off and evaluate.  You may need to try something different. As Albert Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.”

© 2017, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

What if it doesn’t work? At least you tried…

Probably the NUMBER ONE QUESTION if you are standing on the edge of the cliff, about ready to make your own JumpToConsulting.

So, what if it doesn’t work? The brother of Go-Daddy founder Bob Parsons once told him, “Well, if it doesn’t work, they can’t eat you.” Parsons is now a billionaire.

Incidentally, web registration was the backup plan for Go-Daddy — the original plan was on-line tax software. Always good to have Plan B!

Full disclosure — my son (a catalyst for this blog) was their Controller when Go-Daddy was just starting out. He has great stories about working for Parsons, and might have stayed but moved back to Minnesota for personal/family reasons.

My son has since gone on to several more entrepreneurial adventures – including a stint consulting – which ended when a client made him an offer he couldn’t refuse as a VP of Finance.

Probably the simplest solution is to climb back into the corporate womb. I did that myself after a false start. Got laid off (fired actually) from a startup, so I hung out my shingle.

Not good planning. After three months, it was clear this was not going to work — at least for now. My “Plan B” was to find another job, which I did.

But the itch was still there, so three years later I tried again — and succeeded — even though the stock market crashed the first day in business. Thanks to the first try, however, I was much better prepared.

But what if you are successful, and just don’t like it? There is no law that says you must stay a consultant forever. As a bonus — you are likely valued more by your new employer.

Here are two more examples:

Dave specialized in EMI/EMC engineering (electromagnetic interference and compatibility) as I did. He started several years before me, and built a successful practice.

Shortly after I made my jump, I ran into him at a trade show. He was now working for a company. Concerned, I asked him why.

“Why the move?” I asked. “And is there something I need to know?”

“No, not at all,” he replied. “A client made me a very attractive offer. Besides, I was getting tired of having to hustle for business. This new move is a dream job for me, but I only got it due the visibility of consulting.”

Dave did quite well in his new position and enjoyed in immensely.

Steve, another engineer, was a talented writer and editor of a technical magazine. We met through my efforts to write articles (a favorite marketing method) and stayed in touch.

Several years after I started JumpToConsulting, Steve hung out his consulting shingle as technical marketer. We shared ideas, and thanks to his talent, hard work, and contacts, he was very successful within a year.

But then Steve stopped consulting. Concerned, once again I asked why.

“What happened,” I asked.

” Well,” he said, “I discovered I really like working with a team, and not all by myself. I miss the camaraderie.”

So like Dave, he went to work for a favorite client. He quickly moved onward and upward in his career.

Some lessons learned here:

  • You don’t need to be a consultant forever.
  • You may be seen as more valuable for your experience.
  • You have visibility to many more opportunities than had you stayed where you were at in the first place.

The downside is that once having tasted freedom it may be tough to go back. (It would be for me.) But given the right opportunity, maybe not. Careers can be funny that way.

P.S. Tagged this post in “Success Stories.” Even though all three examples eventually left full time consulting, they did so after trying and succeeding. No doubt they could do it again!

“Better to have consulted and quit, than to never have consulted at all.” 

© 2017, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Consider an Engagement Letter…

When dealing with individuals or small companies, an Engagement Letter may make more sense than submitting a formal proposal or quotation.

It also makes it easy for the client to buy no purchase order is needed – just sign the letter. For this reason, Engagement Letters are widely used by attorneys and accountants.

Such was the approach I recently suggested to my Apple computer consultant. Yup, I finally decided to move on from the old XP machines that have served us so well.

After getting our new computers up and running, we talked a little shop. New to consulting, he had some questions – and frustrations. One was getting paid. Been there – done that 🙂

After the work was done, he would submit an invoice. Terms were net due, but many were taking 60 days or more to pay. One client was even arguing about work completed.

So I suggested an Engagement Letter, combined with an advance deposit. My accountant has used this method for years (although no deposit.) I recently needed some legal help, and my lawyer did the same.

Here is a sample. It is based on my standard quoation/proposal described in an earlier post.

XYZ Client
123 Main Street
Somewhere, AZ

We appreciate the opportunity to work with you regarding your new Apple computer system.

In order to ensure an understanding of our mutual responsibilities, we ask our clients to confirm the following arrangement:

Tasks: Consultant will perform the following (on-site as needed):
— Discuss needs and recommend system configuration
— Arrange for purchase of hardware and software (to be paid directly by client – not consultant)
— Install Windows as a virtual machine, and port data to new computer
— Install virus and backup software
— Set up e-mail accounts
— Provide basic training and answer questions
Additional services can be provided for additional fees.

Schedule: By mutual agreement.

Budget: $XXXX, based on 16 hours. Please note this is not a fixed price proposal. Actual time and expenses will be billed. Budget will not be exceeded, however, without client approval.

Payment: $1000 deposit, with remainder due upon completion of above tasks and presentation of invoice.

If the foregoing agrees with your understanding, please sign the enclosed copy of this letter and return it to our office. Thank you.

————————————————– —————————
Joe Consultant                                                   Date

PLEASE SIGN ON THE LINE BELOW THAT YOU HAVE READ THIS ENGAGEMENT LETTER AND AGREE TO ITS TERMS.

————————————————– —————————
John Client                                                         Date

Policy Statement & Business Practices

Our clients often have questions about our business practices and policies. This document addresses common questions. Our intent is to help you understand our practices, so that we can better serve your needs.

Rates -Our rates are $XXX per hour ($XXXX per eight hour per day), plus expenses. On-site time is billed portal-to- portal while office time is billed at our regular hourly rate.

We do not charge a premium for overtime, night shift, weekends, or holidays. Our rates are subject to change, but engagement letters or purchase orders received within the quotation validity date will be honored as quoted.

Expenses – All expenses incurred for the client will be billed at actual cost, with no markup. Consultant will not purchase hardware or software. Client will pay vendors directly.

Travel – Travel time is charged at our regular rates, as follows:
-Local – No travel charge for full day consultations. For less than a full day, time will be billed portal-to-portal.
-Out of town (Air Travel) – One full day labor is added to consultation fee for travel within the contiguous 48 states.

Travel expenses will be invoiced at actual costs. We normally make our own travel arrangements, but if made by client, they are subject to our approval. We normally purchase “no-penalty” coach airline tickets.

Quotations – Quotations are valid for 60 days, unless otherwise stated. All quotations are budgetary – not fixed price – and actual time and expenses will be billed. The quotation will not be exceeded, however, without client authorization.

Terms – We can proceed upon receipt of a signed engagement letter or purchase order and a $1000 deposit for clients with established credit. Balance due upon completion and presentation of invoice. We accept checks, credit cards, or bank transfers.

Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure – All client information and communications are held in strict confidence. Client Non-Disclosure Agreements to this effect are normally acceptable, provided they do not contain clauses restricting our right to do business with others.

In addition, client names are not released without prior approval , nor do we use client names in our marketing materials.

Certifications and Insurance – If information disclosure, certifications, or insurance are required by the client, these must be forwarded to us for evaluation prior to issuing a quotation.

Conditions transmitted subsequent to the start of work will invalidate the quotation, and subject the client to any incurred expenses. Specifically, the following conditions apply –
(1) we do not disclose names or information (technical or financial) about any client without express consent of that client,
(2) we do not submit to financial audit to any agency, public or private.

Performance and Cost Guarantees – Due to the uncertain nature of most consultations, we are unable to precise estimates. When troubleshooting, we can not guarantee success. Often the extent of the problem is not known until an initial evaluation has been made.

As such, all cost estimates are based on a level of effort, but estimates will not be exceeded without your prior approval. You will always, however, receive our best professional efforts and advice in any consultation.

Thank you for the opportunity to work with you.

Like my quotations, the first page outlines the tasks, schedule, and budget. The second page is the “boilerplate” that remains the same. Keeps things simple – always a good idea.

P.S. If you are signed up for my newsletter, watch your mail box for Issue # 1.

 If not, sign up here, and get my FREE white paper “So You Want To Be a Consultant?”

© 2017, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Saving for retirement…

Time for a financial rant – based on a recent news article.

One of the first things to do upon making your JumpToConsulting is to set up a retirement account. Trust me — years later you will be glad you did. I am!

According to a recent on-line article by CNBC, about half of US families have ZERO retirement savings. Nearly 70% of adults have less than $1000 in retirement accounts. Not good…

So take this important step right away, even if you are moonlighting. You can do it as part of setting up your business bank account, with automatic transfers to savings.

Better yet, set up automatic transfers to an IRA with Fidelity or Schwab.

We did this soon after starting EMIGURU. We first set up Fidelity IRAs. Several years later, our accountant suggested a Keogh, which let us put aside up to 25% of our income.

The best part is that 25% is tax deferred. In the meantime, compounding does its magic.

We use a financial planner with who manages the Keogh (and other investments) through Schwab. Fees are based on a per-centage of the portfolio, which in my opinion is the only way to go. As such, he is a fellow consultant and fiduciary, which means (unlike a broker) he puts my financial interest first.

Why not do it yourself? You can, but I prefer having a professional manager, letting me concentrate on making more money at what I do best. The same reason I use an accountant, lawyer, and other professionals.

Here are some savings guidelines/suggestions from the article:

  • By age 30, have your annual salary saved.
  • By age 35, have twice your annual salary saved.
  • By age 40, have three times your annual salary saved.
  • By age 45, have four times your annual salary saved.
  • By age 50, have five times your annual salary saved.
  • By age 55, have six times your annual salary saved.
  • By age 60, have seven times your salary saved.
  • By age 65, have eight times your salary saved

Fidelity simply recommends salary saved by age 30, and ten times your salary by age 67.

When younger, I must confess I was lax about this myself. Fortunately, my business partner insisted we do this. We started at age 45 for me. Never missed the money, and after 25 years at 25%, we both ended up with nice nest eggs.

Now at age 70 and starting to draw on the Keogh, I’m so glad we did this!

It is never to early (or late) to start. Do it TODAY – whether you are consulting or not!

End of rant. Remember, Uncle Daryl wants YOU to find your freedom too!

P.S. Stay tuned. The long promised Newsletter is about to launch, along with a free white paper based on a recent magazine article. If you have not done so, sign up now.

© 2017, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Consulting as a choice….

As we begin a new year, it is time to reflect. Here are some thoughts on choices.

We all make choices in life. Among other things, I chose consulting — it did not happen by chance. I’ve long been inspired by this popular quote:

Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

Choices once made rule out other choices. That is what paralyzes many – the fear of giving up options. But even if you do nothing, you have still made a choice.

Looking back on seven decades, here are some choices I’ve made:

  • Chose to study engineering – As a teenager, I was interested in many things. But my fascination with ham radio let me to choose Electrical Engineering. That choice ruled out other choices that also held my interest.
  • Chose to go into RF design – After graduating with my BSEE, I chose to go into RF (Radio Frequency) design. My first job was working on communications systems. At the time, computers (not RF) were all the rage. But I chose RF.
  • Chose to move to Minnesota – After being laid off (and losing my engineering innocence), I chose to move to Minnesota where my wife was born and raised. This ruled out other choices in warmer places (but I eventually made it to Arizona anyway.) This choice led me into EMI (Electromagnetic Interference) which later became the focus of my engineering consulting firm.
  • Chose to drop an MSEE – After seeing highly educated engineers laid off, I chose to drop an MSEE program. Instead, I chose to spend my time and efforts on more practical pursuits. This included a Master Electrician’s license and a PE (Professional Engineer) license, both beneficial for consulting. Later dropped an MBA program to focus on building my consulting firm.
  • Chose to move into systems engineering – After several years as a back room engineer dealing with EMI issues, I chose to make a job change. I sensed it was time to become more involved with customer problems, not just technical problems. It was also time to break out of the comfort zone. As a bonus, met my business partner.
  • Chose to teach & moonlight – After working in systems engineering, my business partner recruited me to teach an evening electronics class. I chose to accept the challenge, which led to other moonlighting projects, and eventually our own engineering consulting practice. That choice meant giving up other pursuits, such as vegetating with TV shows.
  • Chose to go into sales – After the itch to consult festered, I chose to change career directions again, and became a sales engineer. It required a lot of effort, but I knew I needed the experience if I was to eventually start/run my own consulting firm.
  • Chose to go with a startup – Along the way, a customer recruited me to join his startup. Seeing this as an opportunity to work in a small business, I jumped in. While the experience was good, this choice was not so good. Withing two years, I was replaced by a friend of the customer who lacked the cojones to jump in at the start. As is often said, it was a learning experience…
  • Chose to hang out my shingle – After losing my job, chose to hang out my consulting shingle. Timing was bad, funds were short, and I soon realized there was more to learn. So back into the corporate womb I went.
  • Chose to try marketing – After faltering with the initial consulting attempt, I chose to pursue a technical marketing position. It was interesting, and I learned a lot from my boss and colleagues. But I missed being in the field, so I chose to accept another sales engineering job. It turned out to be a good choice.
  • Chose to hang out my shingle again – this time older/wiser After several successful years as a sales engineer, chose to try consulting again. The itch was still there, and the timing was right. Or so it seemed, except that the first day in business (1987) the stock market crashed! But this time I was prepared, and I succeeded.
  • Chose to stay with it for the next 29 years -After the scary start (the first day in business was the worst day in business), things continually got better. Sure, there were some ups and downs, but overall it has been a very rewarding way to spend a career. If you are so inclined, I highly recommend it.
  • Chose to start this blog – After being asked many times about getting started in consulting, I started this blog five years ago. The goals were to share experiences and advice, and to inspire those who are truly interested in consulting. I’m happy to report that I’ve now helped several make their own JumpToConsulting.

Hope this post has given you some food for thought. The choices you make today will affect you tomorrow. But NOTHING will happen unless YOU choose to MAKE it happen!

Best wishes on YOUR choices in the coming year — Uncle Daryl

© 2017, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Sales Step # 7 – Referrals…

Referrals are the life blood of professional services. Think about it — what do you do if you need a lawyer, doctor, accountant, or other professional? You get a referral!

So make this the last step of your sales process (along with your lead generation process.) What better time to request a referral than when you just finished a project?

Building a consulting practice is all about credibility and visibility. Referrals provide a very high level of credibility, especially when they come from a trusted source.

Many consultants ask for written testimonials from clients for their web sites.

When I recently switched from PCs to Macs, I found a consultant on an Apple directory web site. In addition to being vetted by Apple, several past clients had written brief testimonials.

I hired him and it worked out very well, and even wrote a testimonial (at his request) myself.

If your clients are not comfortable with this, ask if you can use them as a reference. We did this rather than written testimonials, as our consultations were often sensitive. It was also easier than getting something written, and nobody ever refused.

Always call first before giving out a name (and then only when someone asks for a reference.) You don’t want to abuse this courtesy.

Another option is to list past clients. Be sure to ask before doing so. Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) often prohibit this. Although many consultants do this, we chose no to.

Rather, we compiled a list of projects. Most potential clients don’t care who you worked for — rather they want to know what problems you have worked on. Although anonymous, it still makes an effective referral. And many clients appreciate your being discrete.

 Don’t overlook referrals! The time you spend cultivating referrals can pay big dividends in future business from future clients.


This concludes the seven part series on selling consulting services. I hope this overview has helped. It is based on my 10 years in technical sales/marketing, and 30 years as an independent consultant. We could have covered more, but I wanted to keep it simple.

Feel free to contact me if you have questions. They are often fuel for future blog posts.

Finally, remember selling is a process — and critical if you are to succeed as a consultant. For without customers, you don’t have a business!

© 2017, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Sales step #6 – Follow up…

Don’t neglect this step! Making a second sale (or third or…) is always easier than making the first sale. You are now someone your client knows, likes, and trusts.

So how do you do this? Pretty easy.

Here are some suggestions:

– Phone calls – A week or two after the consultation, call to check. Keep it brief and friendly. Offer to clarify or answer questions. This is particularly important if you submitted a report

Our vet does this after every pooch visit, and we appreciate it. It is also smart business. I’m surprised more professionals don’t do this.

– E-mail – While not as personal, an e-mail can also be effective. A quick thank you, along with an offer to clarify.

Take it a step further and make it a short survey. After every trip, I get a survey from both the airline and hotel. Although usually ignored by me, I appreciate the chance to comment.

It shows concern and provides for feedback. If your feedback is bad (shudder), never fear – this is a chance to fix issues – create good will – and retain a client.

— Newsletters – These are particularly effective as your client list grows and/or there is a time gap between consultations. Newsletters can be printed or electronic. I like both.

After a few years in business, we started our printed newsletter. Later we added e-mail, but made it an option. About half preferred the hard copy, and half the electronic version With the passing of my business partner, I now only do a e-mail version – just to stay in touch.

This worked well as our clients often did not need us for a long period. The newsletter reminded them we were still in business. But it sometimes led to immediate business and even referrals (to be covered in Sales Step #7.)

My accountant uses a commercial newsletter imprinted with the company name and contact information. Even though I am not an accountant, I always enjoy the business and tax tips.

— Invitations – Doing webinars or seminars? Invite past clients. After all, they already know who you are, and may well be interested in your educational offerings.

This works for both paid and free events. For years, our engineering seminars generated a substantial part of our revenues. Our mail list of past clients was most effective.

— Other – For years we sent holiday greetings to the previous year’s clients, with a short note thanking them for their business. Often got responses in return – in addition to future business.

For clients who are electronically connected, Twitter/LinkedIn/Facebook can be effective. My financial advisor (consultant) Tweets business tidbits, which I always enjoy and appreciate.

Don’t overlook dinner with past clients. We often did this when in town. Even if you don’t meet, the invitation is appreciated. If do meet, you are not dining alone.

Finally, don’t overlook beer. As most engineers like beer, we had a trade show beer policy where we always offered to buy a beer. An enjoyable way to spend a few minutes with past, present, and future clients. 🙂

So don’t neglect this important sales step. In closing, I’m reminded of the childhood jingle:

Make new friends, and keep the old– one is silver, and the other gold.

True for clients too!

© 2017, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Check out “Side Hustle School”…

A “side hustle” is a great way to try out consulting, without having to leave your day job. That is exactly what how my late business partner and I started our engineering consulting firm almost 40 years ago. Read about our side hustle here.

As such, it is a pleasure to share a brand new resource – Side Hustle School – by Chris Gullibeau. Starting January 1 this year, Chris will deliver a brief podcast every day (for 365 days) with ideas, encouragement, and and success stories. Best of all, it is FREE!

If you are hungry for more from Chris, he will be taking Side Hustle School LIVE on the road to selected cities. For a nominal fee, you can spend a couple of hours with this delightful and very successful entrepreneur.

Or for more FREE ideas, visit his long running blog The Art of Non-Conformity.  

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Chris several times. He and my fellow Arizonan Pamela Slim are two of my favorite Internet people. Chris and Pam stand out for their integrity and passion to help others — particularly those wanting to make their work lives meaningful and rewarding.

Here is some more background on Chris:

  • Author (The Art of Nonconformity, The $100 Startup, and Born For This)
  • Long time blogger at The Art of Nonconformity
  • Founder of the annual World Domination Summit now in its seventh year
  • Volunteer for several years on a hospital ship in Africa
  • Visitor to EVERY country in the world by age 35

By his own admission, Chris is unemployable, and always has been. He had a head start on me — I didn’t become unemployable until I made my full time JumpToConsulting in 1987.

But that jump started years before with my own personal side hustle!

P.S. Full Disclosure — I get NOTHING from Chris for posting this, other than the satisfaction of sharing this great resource. Listen, learn, and enjoy!

© 2017, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

2016 Annual Review…

One more year gone, and once again time again to reflect.

Got this idea from Chris Gullibeau of The Art of Nonconformity. Great idea!

So as always, I’ll review three categories:

But first, a quick overview…

The JumpToConsulting project is now SIX years old. With today’s economy, many people are considering career options such as consulting. I’m happy to share what I’ve learned.

One of the most satisfying results has been helping several engineering colleagues make their own JumpToConsulting.

It has also been fun to learn more about about blogging and writing. That curiosity and drive to learn is what led me to consulting in the first place.

The EMI-GURU project is now almost FORTY years old (full time since 1987.) It has been great fun, and quite successful. I made a lot of friends, and traveled the world.

Best of all, it let me to practice my profession as an Electrical Engineer in a ways I could not even imagine as a college student or young engineer. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Much of what is discussed here is based EMI-GURU experiences. The stuff I talk about is not theory — rather, it is real world and based on almost 40 years of consulting!

LOOKING BACK on 2016…

Jump-to-Consulting – The blog is now over 200 posts. In July, shared my ideas in a live presentation on consulting at an IEEE engineering symposium in Ottawa. Great feedback.

Although serving a pretty tight niche, the blog has helped several colleagues. That includes both genders – consulting is a great way to break ceilings and stereotypes.

So don’t be bashful — your questions and feedback mean a lot, and they inspire me to keep going.

EMI-GURU – The sadness and shock of losing my good friend and business partner in 2015 is pretty much behind me. I still miss him, of course, but life goes on.

With rare exceptions, I’ve ceased consulting and refer business to select colleagues. I remain committed to technical classes, doing six this year. .

Personal – A sad year, however, as we dealt with my sister-in-law’s Alzheimer’s. After many years of independent living, we finally had to move her to full memory care. Quite an ordeal, but things are finally better for everyone.

Otherwise, life is good. Sami the rescue mutt continues to bring joy, along with daily exercise as a “personal trainer.” Hope you enjoyed her Holiday Greeting.

LOOKING FORWARD to 2017

Jump-to-Consulting – Keep on blogging, with at least one post per week. Also considering other enhancements. Watch my blog for more details. Better yet, drop me a line!

EMI-GURU – Continue teaching technical classes, but not more than once month. There is nothing like seeing a student suddenly “get it.” Teaching remains a passion.

Personal – Spend time reading, writing, and traveling in our little RV. Restart the SEC diet and exercise. Fire up the ham radio. Play with the mutt, and just goof off!

Wishing you all the best in 2017 — and THANK YOU for reading my blog!

© 2016, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Sales Step #5 – Deliver…

In traditional sales, step # 4 is the final step. Once you get the purchase order or signed contract, your job as a salesperson is complete.

Of course, you follow up with customers to make sure they are happy, but its time to move on to the next sale. (We’ll address that for consultants in Step 6.)

Not so with the small consulting practice. You just “sold” yourself, and now it’s time to deliver. This is the fun stuff — doing what you wanted to do in the first place!

As a small businessperson, you are still in sales mode, albeit lower key. Not only do you want to have a happy client today, but you want to pave the way for future business and referrals tomorrow. .

Here are some suggestions, particularly for a first time consultation.

(1) Show up as scheduled. As a colleague once said, “If you are not ten minutes early, you’re already late.”

If you run into problems, such as a traffic jam, call your client right away. Thanks to cell phones, there is no excuse for not doing so.

If out of town, don’t take the last flight out. If things get screwed up, you may be able to recover. This is particularly important if you have a meeting with several people.

If you’ve never been to the client location, map it out ahead of time. If out of town, make a dry run the night before. (You did take an earlier flight, right?)

You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.

(2) Show up suitably attired. This depends on your client, but business casual is usually safe. But ask – you don’t want to show up casual if the company norm is suit and tie.

For years, I struck a happy medium with a sport coat, slacks, and tie. If nobody was wearing a tie, I quickly removed it.

But times change. Since I’m dealing with fellow engineers, I now wear slacks, a short sleeve dress shirt, and carry a tie with me if needed. If we’re going to a test lab or on the factory, I usually go with jeans and a golf shirt – just in case we need to get down and dirty.

Don’t be like one client I met. He showed up in the lobby wearing torn jeans, a cartoon T-shirt, and sandals. His boss, however, was wearing a tie. He may have been a good engineer, but I fear he was limiting his career advancement.

How you dress can be as important as how you perform. 

(3) Involve your client. Review the situation, and ask preliminary questions. Don’t jump to conclusions, even if you are pretty sure of the diagnosis. Keep an open mind.

Find out if there is a preferred approach. In my business, I asked “Do you prefer a circuit board fix, or a box level fix?” If the circuit board was purchased, that often precluded making changes. On the other hand, if they were about to redesign the board, we’d start there.

Check with the client as you progress. Nothing worse than getting to the end of a project to find you were going down the wrong path.

Keep the appropriate management in the loop.

(4) Offer a summary report. Done right, this is an effective sales tool. Not only does it document your efforts, but it remains long after the consultation. We had calls years later based on an earlier report, so make sure you contact information is on every page.

Our policy was to charge a flat fee (one day) for a report. They typically ran 5-10 pages.

The first page was a title page (contact information), and the second was a ONE PAGE summary. This summary is important, as it is what management will read. Keep is simple.

The remaining report contained the details. If test data was involved, we included that in appendices. Recommendations were in bullet form, to make them easy to follow.

Your report is your LAST impression – every bit as important as the FIRST impression.

(5) Getting paid. As my late business partner said, “The project isn’t complete until the check clears the bank.” We’ll discuss this more in a later post, but make sure you have a purchase order or contract before proceeding. For larger projects, you may want progress payments or retainers.

Next up – Sales Step #6 – Follow Up – and how to facilitate the next sale (and the next one after that.) Remember, a happy client is happy to buy additional services!

© 2016, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Happy Holidays 2016…

Happy Holidays, and all the best in 2017!

sami-xmas-1

Thank you for your interest in my work at both JumpToConsulting and EMIGURU. Life as a consultant has been great for me, and I wish you happiness and joy in your lives too. Merry Christmas!

From our house to yours… Uncle Daryl, Mary, and Sami the ShihTzu

© 2016, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Sales Step #4 – Quote/propose…

The next step is to ask for the order! This is also known in the sales world as closing.

This is where many consultants fall down, due to fear of rejection. You are not alone – even full time sales people don’t like rejection. But they face it and deal with it – one reason why sales people are paid so well.

For simple projects, just ask if they would like a quote or proposal. If they agree, quickly review the tasks and schedule for consensus, and then provide a quote. A purchase order will often be issued based on the quote.

For more complex projects, you may need additional meetings for further clarification. This can happens when approval from a committee or higher management is needed.

In our practice, simple quotations worked most of the time, but we did have occasional contracts for larger scale projects.

Quotations

As a small specialty (boutique) consulting firm, we generally used quotes. Most of our projects were between a week and a month long.

As such, the budget was usually well within a manager’s signing authority. Seldom did our projects need to go to the CEO or a board.

Our typical project schedules were either immediate (troubleshooting or design reviews) or longer term (training.) The former led to a purchase order, and the latter often led to being put in a future budget. Neither required detailed contracts.

So keep it simple! We used a two page format. The first page contained a short description of the objectives, responsibilities, schedule, and cost. The second page contained the “fine print” that did not change from project to project.

With this simple format, we could prepare a quote in minutes. Clients appreciated the quick response, and our quote was often attached to the client purchase order. No need to get the lawyers involved in simple projects.

Here is a sample quote for a short consultation. The second page includes the “fine print.” We used a similar quote for training projects with minor changes.

****** Quotation ******

Client: XYZ Corp.
1234 Main Street
Somewhere, AZ XXXXX
ATTN: John Smith

Purpose: The client designs and manufacturers military doodads, and is failing MIL-STD-461 radiated emissions tests.

Tasks: The consultant, an electrical engineer specializing in EMI/EMC design and troubleshooting, will assist XYZ as follows:
— On site troubleshooting and reviews at XYZ facility in Somewhere, AZ
— Optional summary report (4-8 pages typical)

Schedule: By mutual agreement (or actual date if scheduled)

Budget: $XXXXX, based on 5 days (4 days on site + 1 day travel) plus estimated travel expenses of $2500. Add $2000 for optional report .

Please note this is a budgetary estimate. Actual time and expenses will be invoiced. Quotation will not be exceeded without client approval.

Terms: Net 30 upon invoice. Purchase order and advance travel retainer of $2500 prior to travel. Quotation valid for 60 days.

Daryl Gerke, PE
Kimmel Gerke Associates, Ltd.
NARTE Certified EMC Engineers

December 13, 2016


Policy Statement & Business Practices
(Consulting & Troubleshooting)

Our clients often have questions about our business practices and policies. This document addresses the most common questions.

Our intent is to help you understand our practices, so that we can better serve your needs as professional consulting engineers.

Thank you for considering us to help you.

Rates -Our rates are $XXX per hour ($xxxx per eight hour per day), plus expenses. We have a four hour minimum for local work, and an eight hour minimum outside for non-local work.

Our rates are subject to change, but purchase orders received within the quotation validity date will be honored as quoted.

Expenses – All expenses will be billed at actual cost, with no markup. These expenses include all travel costs and other expenses incurred for the client.

Travel – Travel time is charged at our regular rates, as follows:
-Local – No travel charge for full day consultations. For less than a full day, time will be billed portal-to-portal with a 4 hour minimum.
-Out of town (Air Travel) – One full day labor is added to consultation fee for travel within the contiguous 48 states.
-Outside Contiguous United States – To be determined.

Travel estimates will be provided in quotations, but all expenses will be invoiced at actual costs. We normally make our own travel arrangements, but if made by client, they are subject to our approval.

We normally purchase “no-penalty” coach airline tickets. Overseas travel is “business” class.

Quotations – Quotations are valid for 60 days, unless otherwise stated. All quotations are budgetary – not fixed price – actual time and expenses will be billed. The quotation will not be exceeded, however, without client authorization.

Terms – Our efforts can proceed upon receipt of a purchase order or letter of authorization., plus an advance travel retainer of $2500. Payment terms are net 30 upon invoice for clients with established credit.

Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure – All client information and communications are held in strict confidence. Client Non-Disclosure Agreements to this effect are normally acceptable, provided they do not contain clauses restricting our right to do business with others.

In addition, client names are not released without prior approval , nor do we use client names in our marketing materials.

Certifications and Insurance – If information disclosure, certifications, or insurance are required by the client, these must be forwarded to us for evaluation prior to issuing a quotation.

Conditions transmitted subsequent to the start of work will invalidate the quotation, and subject the client to any incurred expenses.

Specifically, the following conditions apply – (1) we do not disclose names or information (technical or financial) about any client without express consent of that client, (2) we do not submit to financial audit to any agency, public or private.

Performance and Cost Guarantees – Due to the highly uncertain nature of most EMI problems, we are unable to provide guarantees of success, nor are we able to provide precise pass/fail guidelines.

Often, the extent of the problem is not known until an initial evaluation has been made. As such, all cost estimates are based on a level of effort, but estimates will not be exceeded without your prior approval.

You will always, however, receive our best professional efforts and advice in any consultation.

December 2016

Contracts

For larger projects, a contract may be appropriate. On average, we did several contracts a year. In the simplest form, the contract could be an expansion of the two page quotation.

It might include milestones, deliverables, progress payments, and contingencies. Even so, try to keep it simple and clear.

You may need legal advice, but rather than ask your lawyer to prepare a contract, do a rough draft yourself. Include all the details discussed above. Then have your lawyer review it for proper legalese. You will save money, and your lawyer will appreciate it too.

As an alternate, your client may send you a multi-page contract with all kinds of stipulations and restrictions. This is more likely with large companies with a legal department that needs to justify its existence.

If offered a contract, review it before signing. If complex, run it by your own lawyer first. As my lawyer told me may years ago, “If you have a questions, ask me before you sign anything.” He continued with a grin , “I’d rather keep you out of jail, than get you out of jail.”

Either way, don’t be afraid to remove or change things you don’t like.

One stipulation we always removed was a non-compete clause. Our projects were short and generic – if we agreed to serve only one computer company or one military contractor, we’d be out of business in a year.

A non-compete clause, however, may be appropriate for a long term project. If the client is paying you for unique results, they want to protect that. The same is true for nondisclosure, designed to protect proprietary information.

Don’t be afraid to question the need for a contract. A client once send me a twenty page contract for a five day troubleshooting consultation. When I questioned it, he apologized and sent me a simple non-disclosure agreement. Seems his office administrator sent me the wrong paperwork.

Finally, if you are doing business with the government, expect detailed contracts. Accept it as part of the business. Bureaucracies thrive on paperwork – the reason many of us left corporate or government jobs to become consultants in the first place 🙂

This sales step isn’t complete until you receive a purchase order or contract!

So be prepared to follow up. Ask for an anticipated date, and if you don’t have the requisite paper work by then, call and find out the status.

You MUST do this. Don’t let the fear of rejection stop you. Yes, maybe the project has been sidetracked or dropped, but you need to know.

But don’t be a pest. Our policy was two phone calls. If no answers after two calls, we decided it was time to move on.

Finally, if rejected, be polite. Over the years, many “lost” clients came back for future help After all, the client was interested in us in the first place.

Next up – Sales Step #5 – Deliver. Unlike product sales, the sales process for consultants does not stop with a purchase order or contract. Done well, you can turn a project into a long term client, and in some cases, even a long term friend.

© 2016, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Sales Step #3 – Diagnose and Prescribe…

Now that you have qualified the prospective client, you are ready to provide a preliminary diagnosis and prescription.

The goal is not to actually solve the problem, but to create the desire to have you help. You want to reinforce your credibility, while suggesting a course of action.

Here are three theoretical examples:

  • A doctor might say, “Based on your symptoms, I suspect XXXX. The next step would be a CAT scan, perhaps followed by surgery. I’ve done this surgery many times before with good success. But we’ll make a final decision after the CAT scan. Would you like me to schedule the CAT scan? “
  • A lawyer might say, “Based on our brief discussion, it sounds like you have a case. The next step would be an in-depth meeting in the office. I’ve handled these cases many times before. But we’ll make a final decision after the meeting. Would you like to set up a meeting? “
  • As a consulting engineer, I often said, “Based on our discussion, I suspect a problem with XXXX. We can handle this several ways. The best would an on-site review. I’ve done this many times for others. Based on the review, we will either solve the problem, or provide a course of action.”

Note than all three examples, you have not actually solved the problem In fact, at this stage that might not be possible anyway. But you have moved the sales process forward.

Here are three steps:

Reinforce credibility“Based on XXXX, I suspect YYYY” shows you have listend to the client. Later, “I’ve done this many times before” reinforces that you are capable and have experience in dealing with the problem at hand.

Course of action“The next step…” shows you have a recommended solution, pending further action by the client. It also leaves you wiggle room if you need to change your preliminary diagnosis at a later time. This may well happen when you dig into the problem.

Trial close –Would you like to proceed?” If the client says yes, then move forward. If no, you need to ask why not? Perhaps questions remain that need to be answered. Perhaps the client is just shopping. Perhaps there is a schedule or budget concern. Ask why.

But don’t be manipulative! This is where traditional sales training says you must “overcome objections.” I disagree. Selling professional services is about helping, not manipulating.

What if the problem is very simple — something you can handle easily over the phone? Should you give away free advice, or should you hold back to sell your advice?

In those cases, our policy was to make those simple suggestions – at no charge. (Take two aspirin, but call back if the pain persists…) If the simple solutions worked, it created tremendous good will, and virtually guaranteed future calls as well as references. We looked at those cases as cheap and very effective marketing.

Others may disagree. An alternative would be to bill a nominal amount for your time, or set up a set fee for quick questions. Me – I always wanted to be approachable, and didn’t have the guts to charge thousands of dollars for very simple advice.

One final example of giving away free advice. Several months ago a call came in for some in-house training (which I still do.)

No hassles – they just wanted to know when I could come to their facility, and how much would it cost so they could issue a purchase order. What an easy sale!

Upon arriving, my client told how my late business partner had given free advice several years ago. When the advice worked, Bill would not accept payment for his few minutes of time (our standard policy.)

So when the client wanted a training program, he called nobody else, and he told me how much he appreciated our business practices. You can’t buy advertising or references like that!

Next up – Step #4 – Asking for the order. We’ll discuss the mechanics of quotations and proposals, and how to keep them simple and effective.

P.S. When selling professional services, think like a doctor, not like a used car salesman. Diagnose, prescribe, and never manipulate!

© 2016, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Sales Step # 2 – Qualification…

There are two simple goals in this sales step:

  • Can YOU help?
  • Can THEY buy?

It is just as important to disqualify as it is to qualify. Your time is valuable, and you don’t want to waste it chasing low probability leads.

We already touched briefly on the first goal in Sales Step #1.

Now you need to dig a bit deeper. At this point, you are not trying to solve the problem, but rather to make a quick assessment.

As already mentioned, don’t be afraid to turn business away. If it out of your area of expertise, it may be better to refer to someone else.

On the other hand, don’t be afraid to stretch yourself.  You can back fill with books, colleagues, or an on-line search. This is also how you grow your experience bank account.

So ask more questions. You want to probe deeper.

Here are some typical questions/answers from my own engineering consulting business:

  • What is the problem? (Equipment malfunctions.)
  • How does it manifest itself? (System resets or hangs up.)
  • Any idea why it happens? (Not sure, but we suspect a power glitch.)
  • How often does it occur? (About once a month)
  • How bad is it? (The power supply once caught fire. Ouch!)
  • How much is it costing you? ($10,000 every time it fails. Double Ouch!)
  • Anything else? (Yes, a major customer is pissed. Triple ouch!)

Assuming you can help, you now know the situation is critical, and the problem is expensive. Since it is intermittent, it may not be super urgent, and it may also be a challenge to isolate.

If you are a business consultant, your questions will be different, but you still want to determine if you can help your client, how much it “hurts”, and how urgent things are.

Now that you have qualified YOURSELF, you are ready to qualify the CLIENT.

Are they willing and able to buy your services?

So probe some more. Here are three client qualifying questions I use:

— Schedule? When do you want to proceed? (Can you come yesterday? If you get this answer, close the deal!)

— Budget? Offer a budgetary estimate. The client is usually dying to know anyway. Don’t ask “How much do you have to spend?” as is sounds manipulative.

In situations like this, I usually quote 4-5 days of time, with the stipulation that the budget will not be exceeded, and that if the problem is still not resoled, we’ll mutually decide on the next step. The latter is like exploratory surgery — we may not know how bad things are (or are not) until we dig deeper.

Give a single number (a not-to-exceed, like $10K..) Don’t be vague or quote a range — the client will assume the lower number.  And never ask for an open checkbook.

— Quote? Offer a quotation. We’ll discuss quotations in more detail later. But at this point in the process, you want to know how serious the client is about fixing the problem.

If they say yes, proceed with the sales process. But don’t quote yet — rather gather more information. The quote should be a summary of what you both agree needs to be done.

If they are reluctant, ask why. But don’t be pushy, and don’t waste a lot of time trying to “overcome objections.” It is OK, however, to ask why several times. Doing so often uncovers the real reason for reluctance.

Offer to follow up if they need to “discuss with the boss.” While some “sales experts” suggest you should only talk with the final buyers, the boss often delegates the initial search to a subordinate. (Very common in the technical world.)

So be polite — while this person may not be able to approve, they can often disapprove. Also, this may be the person with whom you will work.

Assuming you have not disqualified yourself or your client, you are now ready to move on to Sales Step #3 – Diagnose & Prescribe.

P.S. Don’t fret if you disqualify. As a professional, your time is valuable and there is never enough of it. You need to focus on the opportunities with the best chances of sales success.

© 2016, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

A Thanksgiving Day Rant…

Time for a rant. This post was precipitated by a hate inspired event in my hometown – no doubt a direct result of the recent election.

Last week, fellow AZ blogger Pam Slim was a victim. Read here. It sickens me.

Then I asked myself why?   

Some say the election was economic backlash, but I don’t buy that. Maybe for some in the Rust Belt, but that doesn’t explain the rest of the country – particularly the affluent suburbs and the more prosperous rural states. No, something else is going on.

We live in one of the richest countries in the world, in one of the richest times in history. Ours is the land of opportunity – if you are willing to pursue it.  But you must be willing to work for it yourself – not blame others – particularly those different from you!

Maybe the reasons lie here. Too many people want “jobs”, but they don’t want to work. Or they live beyond their means, and suffer the consequences. Rather than take responsibility, they want to blame others for their failures. 

So when a demagogue comes along and tells them what they want to hear (not what they need to hear), they rally behind him. History tells us the same thing has happened before.

Sadly, this give rise to violence. Acts of hate are way up. Swastikas appear on churches and synagogues. White school children taunt their immigrant playmates. Little kids playing soccer hurl insults they don’t even understand to people they don’t even know.

But let’s be positive. What can WE do? As Pam put it, we can combat the hate with love and compassion.

  • We can work together to build community, as she and her Navajo husband Darryl are doing in Mesa with K’e, a place of kinship to nurture small businesses – and souls. Bravo, Darryl and Pam!
  • We can teach our children (and grandchildren) to show compassion. To love, not hate. To respect each other, and treasure our differences – not exploit them.
  • We can teach our children (and grandchildren) to show gratitude for what they have. To be satisfied –not constantly wanting more, and more, and more. To appreciate what is enough.
  • Finally, we can create our own success (consulting or otherwise) if we are simply willing to try… to work hard… to share… and to care.

So as you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner this year, forget the narcissistic jerks. Rather, give thanks for those in our communities who DO care!

Peace — Uncle Daryl

P.S. Sorry –I promised myself I wouldn’t go political, but the incident with Pam Slim was too much. Now, back to our regular programming…

© 2016, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Sales Step # 1 – Establish Rapport…

Time to revisit Uncle Daryl’s “Seven Steps of Selling” and to expand upon them.

Yes, I know — you want to be a consultant — a revered oracle — not a peddler. Sharing all your wisdom, and being paid handsomely for it.

All you need to do is hang out your shingle, right?

Wrong, of course. You need customers. Paying customers. And enough paying customers to pay the bills. Because consulting is a BUSINESS, and business means SELLING.

As a wise mentor once said, “If you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business…”

So first you market. You create the necessary visibility and credibility for your services in the market place. You strategize. You define your markets. You generate leads. (Check here for twenty ideas on leads.) But you are still not selling.

Sooner or later you will need to actually TALK to a prospective client. That is when the sales process begins! And often the fear — usually the fear of the unknown.

But selling is simply a process you can learn. Like riding a bike, or playing the piano. Don’t expect to be an immediate expert, but with practice you can hold your own. And you will get better with time — I promise.

It all begins with establishing rapport. Here are some thoughts:

  • Relax, and smile. Even if you are on the phone. It will calm you.
  • Ask about their problem. Think like a doctor when he/she says, “What brings you in today?”
  • Listen carefully, and ask for more details. “Can you fill me in? How does the problem manifest itself? How long has this been going on? What else is going on?”
  • After you have enough preliminary details, simply say “That sounds like something we might help with.”

Assuming, of course, you CAN help. If not, you may want to refer the person to someone else. Don’t worry – they will appreciate you candor and will likely call you again based on the trust you just created.

Before proceeding further, ask how they heard about you. That give you some insight into the trust level.

If a referral, the trust level is already high. Ditto an article or talk. If simply a web search, additional reassurance may be needed.

Such as, “We’ve solve similar problems for others.” But don’t share specific client details, lest you raise concerns about protecting their confidentiality.

Next, ask if they have worked with a consultant before. This gives you some insight into their experience with consultants. If YES, simply proceed. If NO, more reassurance may be needed.

In either case, potential clients often have two fears:

  • Can you help them? Done right, you have already initially reassured them.
  • Can you work together? This is why a pleasant demeanor is so important. As the old saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Note that Step #1 takes but a few minutes. The focus is on asking questions.

This is NOT time to go into a sales pitch, or to talk about how smart and capable you are. Rather, it is all about the client. Think like a doctor, not a used car salesman.

At this point, you are ready for Sales Step #2 – Qualifying. This is where you dig deeper, to see if you truly can help, and to see if they can buy your services. To be covered in a subsequent post.

P.S. Like many of you, I once feared selling.  But after I jumped in (first as a Sales Engineer, and later as a consultant) I came to enjoy the process.

The best part is that as a consultant, you are usually talking to friendly colleagues in the first place – and helping them solve their problems and/or improve their lives.

© 2016, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

A special invitation to women…in the age of Trump…

This post was inspired by “A Letter to Young Women, in the Age of Trump”. Very well said, but sadly, too many comments by trolls reflected the bullying Trump mentality.

One piece of advice she offered:

Think about starting your own thing.

This is what’s exciting; we have the ability to start our own businesses today, in a way we didn’t in the past. Why not take our marbles to our own playgrounds and build great businesses and cultures?

Our mothers couldn’t do this because the cost was so high – but the costs of everything-about-starting-a-business, including technology, people (i.e., freelancers), real estate (co-working spaces) and support services are coming down.

And then no one can relegate you to the less-interesting jobs.

So I want to extend a personal invitation to any woman reading my blog.

Please know you are most WELCOME here, and most WELCOME to join the independent consulting ranks. In fact, many of you already have. Some examples:

  • Pamela Slim(pamelaslim.com) /Successful consultant, author, speaker, and advocate for small business (and of of my favorite people in the world.)
  • Lynn Rausch – Successful nutrition consultant to the Native American communities in Arizona (started in retirement, but now fully retired.)
  • Susan Baier -(www.audienceaudit.com) – Successful market research firm, and the organizer of Laid Off Camp Phoenix. (Hope to feature Susan here soon.)
  • Joanna Hill – (JPHill, LLC) Newly minted engineering consultant. She attended my consulting talk in Ottawa, and we met again last night met at a professional meeting. (Her shingle is out… she has business… congratulations Joanna!)

A common thread among most of these successful businesswomen was not being recognized and appreciated for their contributions. So they took matters into their own hands, and build successful practices. Way.To.Go!

Nothing like the revenge of sweet success.  And it drives the “losers” nuts.

I understand those feelings. Although a guy, more than once I felt the same way. I did deal with some bullying, but at least I wasn’t battling sexual harassment.

So if consulting might be your gig (check out the GIG economy), join us here as I ramp back up. Everyone is welcome — regardless of gender, race, religion, nationality, sexual preference, or ???

As it should be. After all, as consultants we should be working to make the world a better place. In the age of Trumpism, we will need to work even harder!

P.S. To my two granddaughters –You Go Girls!–To my four grandsons–You Go Boys!–And to all six of you– be kind to everyone– and NEVER be a Trump bully!

© 2016, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

How big is the GIG economy???

Bigger than you think. According to a recent study by McKinsey & Company, between 20-30% of the working population in the US and Europe are free lancers (doing gigs.)

That translates to over 160 million people. Not too shabby, I’d say.

Rather than wade through the 148 page study, check out this latest post at Consultants Mind, a favorite blog of mine on consulting.

Although aimed at management consultants in both large and small firms, I find this blog well written and useful for solo-professionals too (including us technical consultants.)

To distill the data even more, here are some key points from the blog post:

  • Most consultants CHOOSE to work independently. More than 70% surveyed do so because the want to — not because they have too. This group is happier too — no great surprise.
  • One in six traditional workers say they would like to go independent. But many don’t because they lack the ideas, ambition, or grit. (If you have the ambition and grit, stick around and I’ll help you with ideas…)
  • Digital platforms enable freelance work. Thanks to the Internet and computers, it is easier than ever today to start and run a consulting business — from anywhere in the world. But you do need to develop your on-line presence to make this work.
  • This is NOT new. According to the author, 100 years ago 45% of the population was self-employed. As small farmers in rural Nebraska, all my grandparents and great-grandparents fell into that category. Furthermore, the author predicts the percentages will rise again in the next century.

The author was pretty critical of the original McKinsey report, saying the 148 page report was about 100 pages too long. He’s right – brevity is always better.

So save yourself some time and hop over here for more details.

Finally, the author challenges “retirees, students, and caregivers” to jump back into the economy – even if partially. If consulting is YOUR gig, follow me at JumpToConsulting and I’ll share my ideas on how to make your jump.

Consulting is a great life for those who choose it. I’m glad I chose it almost 40 years ago!

© 2016, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Don’t cut your fees… cut the scope…

Sooner or later you will be asked to cut your fees. The reason may be legitimate (budget constraints) or your client may just be testing you (particularly if you are new.)

Either way, do NOT cut your fees. Rather, cut the scope…

  • If the budget is truly limited, this may salvage the project and allow you to still help your client, albeit in a more limited fashion.
  • If you are being tested, it sends a message that there is no “fat” in your proposal. This testing tactic is quite common with purchasing agents, who are tasked to get the “best deal” for their employer.

Don’t fret about doing this, and NEVER buy the business. Your time is better spent finding a client who is willing and happy to pay for your services.

This is the voice of experience speaking. Prior to consulting, I was a sales engineer for ten years. On two occasions I spent considerable time to round up “demo” equipment at substantial discounts for some “needy” customers.

Both turned out to be very poor customers, demanding extra support and hand holding while grousing all the time. Not a good deal.

As a result, this lesson was learned prior to starting my consulting firm. Good clients appreciate your value, and are willing to pay for it. If they don’t, move on.

Another example. I once put together a proposal for an overseas training project, which involved several extra tasks. Upon submission, the purchasing agent asked for a reduction, so I asked for a target price. Based on that, I revised the proposal – no small task in itself.

The purchasing agent’s response was, “We like the new price but we still want everything in the original proposal.” My response was to withdraw the proposal. I no longer felt comfortable working with the client.

I found out later that the engineering manager who initiated the project was unhappy — but not with me. Apparently this purchasing agent had done this to other consultants. While I didn’t like losing the business, at that point I felt justified in my action.

The best part was some good business came in, which I would have passed up had I gone with the bad business. Karma anyone?

Finally, the late Howard Shenson advised setting your fee at the minimum amount you would accept. That way there is no fat, and if you lose the business, you don’t end up second guessing yourself. Good advice – I’ve followed it for years!  

P.S. Now back in Arizona, and hope to be posting again on a regular schedule. It was the “Lost Summer” with my sister-in-law. Alzheimer’s is a cruel disease.

© 2016, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

A quick update from the trenches…

Been a bit remiss in my posts the last few months, for which I apologize.

My sister-in-law has Alzheimer’s, and my wife (her only sibling) is her principal care giver. She recently reached the point where we realized she needed a move to full time memory care. As she is in Minnesota, we didn’t want her wandering off at -20 degrees.

So the past few months have been busy. First, investigating places. Second, getting things in place. Third, executing the move, which was done two days ago. Like a typical consultation, things have taken longer than planned, and not everything has gone as smooth as desired.

So I hope to be back on some sort of a schedule in a few weeks. Don’t worry — I still have a backlog of ideas to share. Stay tuned…see you again soon…

© 2016, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

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