Tag Archives: professional services

Best of Scalable Startups Consulting Content

strawberries

I’ve been blogging very regularly for the past four years. In fact the blog itself has been around for over ten years! Time flies!

In that time I’ve posted a lot of evergreen content, some that google finds, and some that could be dusted off.

Join 28,000 others and follow Sean Hull on twitter @hullsean.

So here’s a peak into the archives, of some of the very best of scalable startups. Enjoy!

1. I blog about consulting

When you spend years doing consulting, professional services & freelance work, you learn all sorts of things. You stumble, you find yourself in unfamiliar territory, you learn. All that makes great fodder for blogging about business, and war stories. So here’s some of my best writing on the topic.

I had one experience where a prospect was still on the fence. That may be positive spin, as the title was
When prospects mislead. It turned out to be more a case of free consulting advice than anything else.

At networking events, I meet other freelancers, and consultants. There’s always debate about this topic, so I wrote
Why i ask clients for a deposit. There are reasons for both client and consultant, and I touch on the lessons i’ve learned.

It might seem strange that I’d write a post titled
Why I can’t raise the bar at every firm but there are prospects that aren’t the right fit for me. Here are some of the pre-qualifying questions on both sides of the fence.

Sad to say, but every client & consultant relationship isn’t a love story. So I wrote
When a client takes a swing at you about one such relationship and how I handled it.

I ask the question,
Does weekly billing increase time pressure? I think it does change the dynamic in some positive ways and I discuss those.

You’re ready to hire a consultant. What’s next? As it turns out, professional services is more a peer relationship with CEO’s, CTO’s & managers. So the typical, “send me your resume” and so forth may not be best. Here’s
5 conversational ways to evaluate consultants that provide an alternate approach to finding the best services.

One of the hardest things for engineers can be sales. Along the way to consulting success, I wrote
Can an engineer learn to love sales? Eventually it’s a skill that you have to improve at, if you want to stay in business for yourself.

Ever consulting engagement is not about your own triumphs. The conclusion isn’t always the wonderful things you’ve done for the firm. I wrote
When you have to take the fall after an engagement where it wasn’t a celebration at the end.

Sometimes in consulting, there’s what you’re hired to do on paper, and then what the real challenges are.
When you’re hired to solve a people problem addresses one such engagement, and how I handled it.

Believe it or not folks, sometimes there is a disconnect between management, and accounts payable. So I wrote
When clients don’t pay as a lesson & how I handled it.

Consulting is decidedly not the career path for everyone.
Why do people leave consulting
is my attempt to explain why some I’ve seen have left the business.

Everybody doesn’t love consultants. So
Do you heed John Greathouse – beware the consultant? That’s a question I attempted to answer.

Are you talking to Oracle or other technology sales teams about what solutions are right for your business?
Beware a wolf in sheeps clothing as it can be surprisingly dangerous field.

Another war story I wrote,
When apples & oranges bring down your business. Here a misunderstanding of semantics, means manager & dba make a severe misjudgement, and both pay the price.

After twenty years in the business, here are the
Top 3 questions I get from clients.

Get more. Grab our exclusive monthly Scalable Startups. We share tips and special content. Our latest Why I don’t work with recruiters

Why I ask clients for a deposit

Editor & writer in friendly dialog

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1. It indicates both parties are serious

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?”.

The deposit signals to the vendor that it’s time to get working. This client has the budget and is serious about moving forward today.

Read: Why Fred Wilson is wrong about Apple

2. It protects against scope changes

Startups & seasoned businesses alike have changing needs. That’s why they may choose a situational resource to begin with.

If the winds change, and we don’t need you tomorrow, a deposit defrays the final invoice, and or discounts you may have applied.

Related: Is Dave Eggers right about risks of social media?

3. Insurance if business fizzles

Fizzling business, is a nice way to say the market has changed. Perhaps the startup has decided to pursue other opportunities. In close to twenty years of business I’ve only had this happen twice.

Once I was working with a rewards card business. They were already having trouble meeting payroll. Turns out businesses have a legal obligation to meet payroll. That’s another way of saying they’re at the top of the who-gets-paid list. And vendors may be closer to the bottom. They owner went back to being a lawyer, his profession before the startup.

All in all, a deposit provides some insurance in these cases.

Read this: 5 cloud ideas that aren’t actually true

4. Signals your maturity to client

This is a hard one for some freelancers and consultants to stomach. “I really want to get going with consulting, and don’t want to turn away this client.” The thinking goes. But consulting is a peer relationship, where vendor and client need to be on an equal footing.

Your need for a deposit, and willingness to walk away without one, says to the client you are professional and have been in business for some time.

Also: If you’re using MySQL in the Amazon cloud, you need to ask yourself this question

5. Protection from early termination

That sounds ominous but it doesn’t have to be. In the world of freelance and consulting, a client can decide they no longer need your services tomorrow.

Why? Perhaps they hired a fulltime resource? Perhaps their needs changed? Perhaps the storm of site outages have passed and the urgency has changed.

Whatever the reason, projects change. If you’ve offered a discount for three months of work, but only end up with one month of work, your full fees may apply. In that case, the deposit should be the discount amount.

Check this: Do managers underestimate operational costs?

Get more. Grab our exclusive monthly Scalable Startups. We share tips and special content. Our latest Why I don’t work with recruiters

iHeavy Insights 75 – Recognizing Quality

Finding good vendors who provide professional services may have a lot in common with finding good restaurants.  There may be an abundance of them, while the best ones remain difficult to find.

A long line does not mean quality food

Some restaurants have a long line because they have slow service.  If that’s because you’re getting quality personalized service, great.  But if it’s because of incompetence and general disorganization or because they can’t keep quality help, that’s another story.

Hype and marketing can bring a lot of customers to a new restaurant.  Sometimes it’s a celebrity chef or architect.  If that’s what you’re after then you may be at the right place.  If you’re looking for the best home cooked meal, you may have to keep looking.

Convenience and location can also bring long lines.  Finding a restaurant on the main street or square is usually not the one with the best food.

A better way to find quality

Take a look at how long the restaurant has been around.  A service provider who has been in business for a long time has obviously been successful at acquiring customers, solving their problems, and charging a fee that matches both their needs and those of their customers.

Check the testimonials of your provider.  If their website doesn’t list some, ask for one or two customers that they’ve worked with recently.

Pay attention to service.  If you are a small fish for your vendor, it’s likely that service will be affected.  If you on the other hand are one of your vendors bigger clients, they’ll likely give much more attention to you.  Notice how regular customers at a restaurant or lounge tend to get the best service.

Book Review:  The Power of Pull by Hagel, Brown & Davison

A lot of really influential people like this book.  Joichi Ito, Richard Florida and Eric Schmidt to name a few.  Enterprises are faced with a bewildering array of challenges from finding good people, to retaining them, and putting them to work in the most creative ways.  This book brings another new and welcome perspective on the future of building and growing successful organizations.

About

Heavyweight Internet Group is a boutique technology consulting firm operating in New York City. In business for over ten years, we have weathered the dot-com storm, continuing to provide our clients with the very best expertise. Concentrating on client needs & their business bottom line, we let needs and value drive technology solutions, not the other way around.

Our many years in the business have brought us perspectives and experience which we bring to the table with every new client. The value is obvious. What’s more we provide individual attention and focus to each client, another tremendous benefit.

Selected Clients

Active Reasoning

Advance Publications

American DBA Online

American Law Media

Ariane Anthony Dance Co.

Community Connect, Inc.

Conducive Corporation

Cyber Logics, Inc.

Database Journal

Dotomi, Inc.

DownloadCard, Inc.

DBA Online

DBA Zine/BMC Software

Efferent Corp.

EFY Group – New Delhi, India

Far Countries, Inc.

firmView, LLC.

GL Trade, Inc.

IN2, Inc.

Infovest21, LLC.

Inside Cinema

Integrated Media, Inc.

Independent Oracle User Group

Kaplan, Inc.

Marketing Technology Solutions

Method Five, Inc.

MIDORINOSHIMA

Missing Pixel

Money-Media, Inc.

NBC/iVillage – NeverSayDiet.com

NBC/BravoTV.com

Nechsi, LLC

Net Creations, Inc.

New York Oracle User Group

Oracle Technology Network

Physical Arts Center

Proteometrics, Inc.

Real Estate Online

Riptide Communications, LLC

Robichaux & Associates, Inc.

Solbright, Inc.

Starmedia, Inc.

Streamedia, Inc.

Susquehanna International Group

Timeout NY

TSI, Inc.

Wireless Generation

Workspeed, Inc.

Xceed Corp.