Weighing Your Consulting Options

Business advice
What is your advice worth

One of the fun things about consulting with clients in the new economy is working on the right deal that makes sense for everyone. There’s always the work that has to get done. There’s some kind of pain that has to be identified, articulated and clarified.

Making a good deal really depends on the unique parts of each problem. The way I like to work deals is based on a few factors to determine whether I take an advising role, consulting role or both. The factors that get into the mix have to be weighed carefully.

1. What is the Client Like?

Knowing what the personality and tendencies of a client are is the largest weighting factor. There are people that like to be in control and do a lot of work. There are others that want to hand off and work with talented people and just get the result.

If control and doing the work are important, then providing advice and a roadmap for them to do the work may be what is of value. This is not to say that there is not consulting implementation work to be done, but the value is centered around knowledge and how to fill the gap. Do-it-yourself types like the instruction manual and find value in knowing what to do. They may also value money much more than their time. Thus, a deal centered around cost savings regardless of time savings fits.

If a client is simply interested in the result and wants someone else to handle all the details, then doing consulting work may be in order. The deal needs to center around the timeframe and work to get done with the expectation that all implementation would get done with updates along the way. This type of person values their time and sees the investment as worth the return.

2. Managing the Headaches

Some deals are not worth doing because of the risks in navigating murky waters and the headaches involved to get to the goal. If the details of a deal have a lot of pitfalls not only in the technical work, but in managing partners or handling the client relationship, then it might make more sense to act as an advisor rather than within a consulting implementation role. This can allow for more transparency and you can reap the rewards of your knowledge. The client would benefit from having a business roadmap to understand how to get to the goal and avoid failure and costs that someone new would otherwise experience.

The headaches from managing the details of branding, communication and client personalities can be emotionally draining. There’s a cost here that has to be weighed. A long timeframe and many deliverables can extend an engagement and create many opportunities for risk in the relationship. If the reward is worth the risk, then doing the work and setting up a thorough consulting engagement can be a fulfilling way to do business. If it’s not worth it, then share your knowledge as an advisor.

3. The Money and the Work

The client may want to get the results and will not be much of a headache to work with, but the money and the work have to make sense as well. Doing a ton of work, having all the responsibility and getting compensated very little is not good business. It may be a masochistic win for the client who tries to squeeze people for professional service fees, but ultimately, it’s a bad deal that ends without a good taste all the way around.

Doing the work means keeping the details and communications streams transparent. For intangibles like services, it’s important for people to see the connection between effort and value. The value is what should be the selling point, but effort ultimately substantiates it.

You Can Always Start With Advice

Knowledge is value in today’s economy. Show me what you know and I will show you what you are worth. Columbus was criticized for his knowledge but exposed the faultiness of people’s misperceptions about talent, knowledge and effort.

Likewise, depending on the people and work in the equation, charging for and centering around advice and backing into consulting with doing the work can always be a starting point. A client may appreciate the difficulty only after experiencing the value and knowledge and execution gap personally.

A great way is to offer a business roadmap and use this to guide a person to success. Then charge as you go on what may be difficult as it becomes apparent in the engagement.

So, how do you like to work with professional service providers? Do you value knowledge or execution more?

Published by Don Dalrymple

I partner with founders and entrepreneurs in startup businesses. I write and consult on strategy, systems, team building and growing revenue.

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