I stumbled on this interesting article, and thought I’d share it. Bartender doesn’t get job, but wins suit for consulting fees
Now some of you may have already made some prejudgements. But I ask that you hold your conclusions, and take a listen.
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Now let’s for a moment, distinguish big firm consultants, with independent consultants. I’m speaking about the latter, the freelancers of the world.
1. Time spent evaluating a consultant
If you’ve hired a consultant or freelancer before, you know you’ll spend time evaluating. You’ll talk about your business problem, and they’ll share how they can help. They may even start brainstorming with you. This alone can be valuable to a firm, as it can give them new ideas and new perspectives to dig into their problem.
Notice too, that while you are a fulltime employee, all that time on the phone, and at your desk, you are getting paid. While that freelancer, is *not* getting paid.
My point is not to complain here. Just merely to point out that there is a lot of work that happens before you are paying your consultant. Before they are even billing. Whether it is preparation, leveling up on knowledge, networking, business dinners, or prospecting.
So when you consider the cost of consulting, figure that there is 25-30% more time that they are *working* though it doesn’t show up on the invoice.
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2. Straightforward or naive?
In the case of the bartender story, he did indeed spend time researching for the propsect. Whatever that may entail. There is a point where the consultant goes out on a limb. Some saavy is required to avoid misunderstandings, but ultimately both parties also need to be fair.
Although we all want to make an effort to be straightforward, despite what Fred Wilson says, parties are not always transparent. I would argue if you were too naive in this regard, you would not succeed in business.
3. Avoid the legal route at all costs
Unlike the bartender, I personally would never choose legal arbitration. Is it ever really worth it? In the case of the bartender, he says $35/hr and 5.5 hours work, so $192.50. But how much time did he spend filing the suit? Paperwork, phone calls, emails, whatever. And then driving to the courthouse, cost of gas etc. No way this could come out cost-effective. To my mind many legal cases come down to ego. One party wanting to SHOW the other party they are wrong. Not worth it!
My feeling is always take the high road. Talk with them, and explain where you’re coming from. Also listen to them, and try to understand their perspective. There is always a middle ground that can be found.