Have some fun… do some good… make some money. The perfect consulting project meets all three criteria. Two out of three is still often OK, and on occasion, I’ve even stooped to one out of three. But these are three criteria by which I judge potential consulting projects.
Have some fun… For me, this is probably the most important. Life is simply too short to spend time doing things you do not (or no longer) enjoy. This comes from someone who daily wonders, “Where did the time go, anyway???” Or, as Bob Parsons of GoDaddy says in his Rule 16, “We’re here for good time — not for a long time.”
Having fun means different things to different people. For some, it is learning something new. For others, it is creating something, or perhaps solving a complex problem. Or it may just be the simple satisfaction of doing your best.
Having fun also means liking the people you work with with. You don’t need to put up with clients that are overly abrasive. Unlike a full time job, as a consultant you can actually “fire” an obnoxious client. I’ve done that a couple of times in the past 30 years.
Do some good… This is closely related to the first criteria. In fact, doing good can provide immense satisfaction, and can still be the basis for a successful consulting practice. Best of all, you don’t need to do your good for free (unless you want to.)
A good example of this is Lynn, the retired nutritionist mentioned in an earlier post. Lynn originally volunteered her valuable skills to a local Native American community in the Phoenix area. Her sole goal was to do some good.
After several months, she was asked is she could help other communities throughout the state. Only this time, she would be paid. Unknown to her, a grant had been secured to support her efforts. She said yes, and truly had some fun, did some good, and made some money. And she nicely augmented her retirements savings, too.
Make some money… Although third on the list, this is the ultimate goal of any business. Even non-profits need money to fund their efforts and pay their expenses. Nothing wrong with not making money, but if you do that all the time, you probably have a hobby — not a business. Even the IRS looks at it this way.
Not every project needs to make money right away. For example, you may be testing a concept or idea, and find that you lost money on the initial try. If that happens, don’t despair — take the lessons learned and try again. After all, you paid for the lessons.
However, you eventually want to make money on your consulting projects. Don’t just focus alone on having fun and doing good. Without profits, you don’t get to stay in the game. See the advice from my friend Marv.
Finally, if you end up making a lot of money and still want to change the world, you can always give it away. Look at Bill Gates — his foundation has done a lot of good, and I can’t help thinking he has had a lot of fun along the way.
Although you’re not Bill Gates, you can still have some fun, do some good, and make some money with your business. Comments?
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