David C. Baker writes on his blog:
The only reason to track time is to create a feedback loop that allows you to do a better job estimating the next time around. And when you’re pretty good at that, you drop timekeeping altogether and step up to value pricing. By the way, this gets easier if your client relationships slowly begin to look more and more alike as your positioning creeps into your service offerings.Putting a Final Nail in the Timekeeping Coffin — David C. Baker
Good insights here, particularly for folks straddling the (supposed) fence between hourly billing and fixed/ value-based fees. It’s not as simple as just throwing out hourly billing or time tracking. It’s more nuanced than that (particularly at first).
This is a powerful essay from former consultant and long-time entrepreneur Justin Couto. I think any entrepreneur can well relate to it. He writes:
No one starts a business to have it fail, but unfortunately, that is what happens all too often. I know I certainly had many close calls with business failure while running my former companies, and the weight of those seemingly inevitable failures baring down on you is crushing. It can be kryptonite to the point that your paralyzed and utterly ineffective at finding a way out.SoCreate – Bootstrapping Ain’t Easy: You Can Only Win if You Keep on Pushing
Anyone who has ever tried to create/ build something meaningful – whether a business, a non-profit, a movement or piece of art – can relate to the things shared in this essay. Inherently a lot of tears, frustration, second-guessing, uncertainty, setbacks, and personal growth are behind just about every step – or leap – forward.
Tsavo Neal wrote up a handy overview on his blog of one David Fields’ consulting business books:
Who doesn’t want to run a more profitable and enjoyable consulting business? To do this, you need to learn from consultants who have done it themselves and can teach you how.
That said, many non-fiction business books are stiff. A lot of books on consulting are downright boring. The knowledge you gain makes up for it, but they can be a drag to get through.
With The Irresistible Consultant’s Guide to Winning Clients, consultant David Fields has written a concise, actionable, and enjoyable book on building the consulting business of your dreams.7 Things I Learned From The Irresistible Consultant’s Guide To Winning Clients by David Fields – Tsavo Neal
Jamie Syke, independent designer, writes on his blog:
Trust is the main ingredient in any successful relationship, and client projects are no different. Without that element of trust, everything else will be more challenging and negative things like micromanagement can creep in. That trust comes from a solid foundation and building a good back-and-forth during the early stages of planning out the project.What Makes a Productive Designer and Client Relationship?
I’ve touched on this numerous times in the past, but it’s worth repeating over and over: grasping marketing is critical to building the professional practice you really want. But marketing also is not what many think it is – advertising – as C.J. Hayden points out:
It’s a common mistake for professional service providers to make. You don’t have a background in sales and marketing, so when you try to figure out how to get clients for your business, you copy what you see. You look around at what other businesses are doing and you see ads everywhere, so you think you’d better have some, too. But what you’re seeing is not the whole story.
Most successful professionals in fields like consulting, coaching, training, design, business and financial services, accounting, law, real estate, and healing professions report that they get more clients — and better clients — from activities at the opposite pole of the marketing iceberg from advertising. The focus of their marketing is on building relationships, following up personally with contacts, nurturing referral sources, and serving as a resource in their area of expertise.Advertising Doesn’t Equal Marketing | Get Clients Now!
Brian L. Hill for AEC Forensics writes:
If you want to be a true consultant, make sure that the efforts of your client work produce measurable results, and ideally, implement value-based fees as opposed to billing based on increments of time.
But ultimately, perhaps the real test for who is and who is not a consultant comes down to their relationship with their client. A real consultant is a peer of their client, engaged in a collaborative process.Would a consultant by any other name smell so sweet? – AEC Forensics
Victor Cheng writes on the CaseInterview.com blog:
In short, many clients have a (relatively speaking) poor ability to either absorb or reduce uncertainty in making big, high stakes decisions.
The greater the uncertainty and the greater the consequence of a wrong decision, the greater the anxiety the client feels. When a consulting firm comes and can legitimately reduce the uncertainty the client faces, the consulting firm charges a fee that on a relative basis is a small portion of the anxiety to be relieved — even though on an absolute basis might seem like a very high fee to you and me.
The reasonableness or outrageousness of the fee you charge has nothing to do with the fee itself. It has to do with the magnitude and severity of the problem that disappears once the fee has been paid.The Uncertainty Arbitrage
Generating leads and turning them into clients isn’t rocket science. But it does require focus, empathy, and patience. Dustin Lien has a solid write-up on his blog of a real-world organic client acquisition that occurred in his service business:
For most people, the most frustrating part of starting a client service business is cracking the elusive code of getting new clients. While it can feel difficult to understand, and at times even unpredictable, there are tried and true steps to follow that just plain work.
It’s filled with practical reminders like:
During an initial exploration call, it’s important to make sure you let them talk about their business and their current needs before pitching anything. I like to use this phrase: “I’d love to learn about your business, and any unique challenges you’re facing.”A Real Example of Getting a New Client (With Step-by-step Actions)
Again, not rocket science, but attracting leads and turning (some of ) them into clients does entail a different skill-set than many otherwise highly capable experts in there field have already. There’s no shame in learning the basics, ever. And since it’s not rocket science you’ll still get to dedicate a lot of time to your true area of expertise.
Sean Hull writes on his blog:
A common refrain when discussing terms of a project, and reviewing statement of work – “when shall we get started?”. The answer should be, “I’m ready to get started anytime you like. Would you like to use paypal or ACH for deposit?”.Why I ask clients for a deposit – Scalable Startups
I really wish more consultants understood this. I used to get excited after getting off of a positive “Sounds good, let’s do it” call with a prospect. In time I learned to be more measured: Nothing is real until the check comes (and clears). And sometimes it never does – despite that enthusiastic response you received to your proposal.
David A. Fields writes:
Your consulting firm’s prospects and clients are settling into the video call format. Other than the relationship-building advantages of video, has this newly-accepted communication medium ushered in any valuable opportunities for your consulting firm?
Video testimonials are where it’s at.5 Pro Tips for Transforming a Lockdown into Killer Testimonials – David A. Fields
I must admit, I’ve never tried to get any video-based testimonials. In the past it would have been more awkward to ask for, but today’s climate changes all that.