Author, advertising and
publishing consultant, former
editor of Chicago and other
magazines, former creative
director of Campbell-Ewald and
other advertising agencies. For
more information, click here. Or
see Who's Who in America or
Consulting editor, historian, poet
and author of several books. For
more information, click here or
BLOGS and GLOBS: I have
been writing a blog since 1966,
only I didn't know it. In those
days, it came out in the form of a
newsletter on paper. Remember
paper? It never got lost in
cyberspace, although if it got wet
enough blog turned into glob. I
called it The Uncommentator,
and tried to make it amusing. To
read some of my favorites, see
Recent Books by the Frisbies.
School of Business: Course 101
October 12, 2007--Now that Iíve been self-employed as a consultant for 41 years, people often ask me how Iíve done it. They are people who, for understandable reasons, hate their bosses. Here are a few tips I have been happy to
share with them:
1. Getting new business. Introductions to prospective new clients come mainly from networking. For many years I fertilized this field by sending an amusing and/or informative newsletter to all plausible contacts.
A crucial moment is the first meeting with a potential client. Like predators, clients can smell fear. Thatís why, perversely, when youíre already busy, getting more work tends to be easy. But when things are slow and your next mortgage payment looms large, you have to try especially hard not to quiver like a trapped antelope.
2. Dealing with new clients. If clients quibble over price, that can be a good sign. They are probably visualizing themselves actually writing you a check. Be aware that some companies donít pay much attention to cost because they attend to weasel out of paying you in the end anyway. If you have the slightest suspicion, insist on partial payment in advance.
To get work, charge reasonable prices, but never lower them. Creative people, in their self-confidence, almost always underestimate how long it will take them to complete a project. Once you start working for less itís harder to charge
more in the future, and you could wind up working harder and harder while just scraping by.
3. Keeping good records. Within 24 hours of a meeting or a phone call from a client, Email a summary of what was said and decided. Do this from the beginning so that it becomes accepted as standard procedure. If you wait till a controversy looms, clients will think you are trying to embarrass them in some way. I have found that after a while clients donít even bother questioning who said what to whom. They know Iíve got it all on file.
Keep a time sheet every day with your time accounted for in 15-minute intervals. This enables you to justify a retainer or document billing by the hour. For jobs bid on a project basis, your time sheet tells you at the end whether the project was profitable or not.
Research has shown that consultants can bill only about 60 percent of their time. The other 40 percent goes for promoting new business, reading mail, ordering supplies, fighting with your computer, supervising any assistants and the other minutiae of any business. I have found this ratio accurate in my own experience.