The Complete Idiots Guide to Consulting by Robert Bascal

My Notes on “The Complete Idiots Guide to Consulting” by Robert Bascal:The-Complete-Idiot-s-Guide-to-Consulting-9780028642710

Why do people hire consultants?

  • Objectivity
  • Fresh viewpoint
  • Lack of in-house expertise
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Completely lost
  • Expert credibility

Other Notes

  • Prepare in advance. Get all your ducks in a row before you embark on a career
  • A consultants main goal is to make sure the client never needs him or her again – so they come back to you with a different problem
  • Clients confuse wants and needs
  • The less money you have, the more likely you are going to make decisions you regret (eg taking a project you’re not qualified for)
  • The more areas you specialise in, the more people will see you as expert in none

Clients agenda when meeting for the first time

  • Doesn’t want to waste time
  • Needs to determine if you can help them
  • Comfort levels with your personality

Your agenda when meeting for the first time

  • Looking fit between project and ability
  • Gauge the clients perception of the problem, what they have done to address it so far
  • Start getting a sense of where the root of the problem is (may not be what they think)

Before you accepting the clients contract offer, ask yourself these questions

  • Do I have time in my schedule to do this project effectively?
  • Is the compensation adequate taking into account time over-runs that most projects experience
  • Any red flags or gut feelings that hint as future problems, that I need to clarify?
  • Are there unstated assumptions or expectations that the client might have that you should talk about?

What should the final agreement / memorandum of understanding contain?

  • A brief description of the project and the services you will provide
  • A timeline
  • What you must deliver (physical things, services, reports)
  • Fees and timing of payment
  • Specification of billable activities and their rate
  • Description of how expenses will be reimbursed
  • A statement indicating who owns the products of the project – copyright and reproduction rights
  • A cancellation clause that outlines what happens in the event one party or the other cancels the project

Marketing Options

  • Cold calling – to get a face to face meeting (then do 25% talking, 75% listening)
  • Networking – for professional and social relationships – don’t push
  • Providing Free Services: offer no-fee speaking engagements for professional associations, chamber of commerce, nonprofits – present something valuable, no selling
  • Television and Radio interviews

How clients choose consultants

  • Demonstrated expertise and experience
  • Demonstrated understanding of clients industry or situation
  • The good listener often gets the contract
  • Credibility and integrity
  • Gut feeling sense of fit

Fee Structure Options

  • Hourly billing (stuck working for someone!)
  • Fee per project (no surprise and room to be efficient and finish fast)
  • Results based (proportion of increased revenue – but hard to measure)
  • Mix: Ask for a bonus in proportion to achieving agreed upon improvement objectives

Must-read books

  • Flawless Consulting – A guide to getting your expertise used – Peter Block
  • The flawless consulting fieldbook and companion – Peter Block
  • How to succeed as an independent consultant – Herman Holtz

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