Consulting Company Progress – Year in Review

It’s been over a year since I formally incorporated my consulting company and I have had a lot of lessons and learning experiences.

First, I’ve learned that owning a consulting company is a much different experience from working at one and helping it grow.

When you’re an owner you notice and focus on different things than you do when you’re working at one. When I worked at Old Employer, I thought that it was horribly disorganized. I was shocked that there weren’t systems, procedures, and standardized forms for tracking time, billing clients, paying employees, managing projects, onboarding clients, disengaging with clients, documenting projects and more. I also was surprised that we didn’t have a good website. Or halfway decent graphic design. Or employee contracts. Or a standardized system for paying people.

To my critical, know-it-all mind, it seemed obvious that the efficiency to be gained from having systems for these sorts of things would more than make up for the time investment spent setting them up. I was positive that when (not if) I started my own company I would have all the above things systemized. How hard could it be?

After a year, I know the answer is: Really hard.

Any one of those pieces is not that hard. However, prioritizing working on the business over billable client work once you have traction and deadlines requires a lot of discipline and personal sacrifice for nebulous payoff and uncertain returns.

That said, I can remember that when I was not an owner, I saw the importance of those things. My former employers were disorganized as a result of not having systems, and I feel confident that I too am disorganized relative to where I could be.

Hence, my goal for the next month (now that client work is streamlined and i’m in a steady groove) is to systemize those aspects of my business as if I were going to delegate those tasks instead of continuing to handle them myself.

Some disjointed notes to help with the systemization efforts:

  1. Onboarding process
  1. First, note that having an onboarding process is mandatory. It protects the client as much as it protects me, the vendor.
  2. Absolutely must have a signed contract before doing any work beyond an initial consultation.
  3. Must have a cleared check or wire before doing any work unless there is a pre-existing WORKING relationship with a history of prompt payments.
  4. Must fill out a client intake form to prequalify the client as part of the initial consultation.
  1. Has the client had any failed projects comparable to the one they are engaging me on? What were the circumstances surrounding the failure of the project? If there were past successful projects, why is the client not continuing to work with that team?
  2. Is there a defined spec, budget, and goal? (If not, they need to create these before engaging me, or pay me to help make them.)
  3. What is the technical experience of the client’s staff that I’ll be working with?
  4. How easy is it for me to get hold of the client’s staff I’ll be working with?
  • After the initial consultation and before I agree to take on the project I must answer the following questions:
    1. If I weren’t getting paid, would I still work on this project?
    2. How does this project tactically further my consulting company’s goals?
    3. Would I pick these people as coworkers?
  • Employee contracts
    1. These need to be standardized so everyone fits into a system I create rather than me chasing down people and making deals.

    Comments are closed.