Friday May 6, 2011
An important step in getting your new consulting business off the ground is to figure out what your rate sheet is going to look like. Sure, you want to help people with your expertise, but the work is also about growing a business and making money, right?
Even if you're offering some of the best services around, if your pricing is too high, people may not find it a good value and go elsewhere; too low and your bottom line could suffer.
So consider the three Cs of pricing, taking into account your costs, what the competition is doing, and your prospective clients' expectations. From there, you should have a good ballpark for setting the appropriate prices to attract clients.
Tuesday July 29, 2008
Given the tumultuous economy and rocky business environment, the timing of Donald R. Keough's new book is pretty good. The retired Coca-Cola executive just published, "The Ten Commandments for Business Failure." As might be expected, it's a hard look at the mistakes made in business that can ensure failure and what to do to avoid them.
For consultants, this book may be one better borrowed than bought. By the author's admission, in this recent interview with The New York Times, it's probably not a book consultants will find endearing. A chapter discussing Keough's own glaring failure with the "New Coke" project, also contains a hard look at the role consultants play. But here, read the quote:
"Consultants will probably not be great purchasers of this book. There is nothing wrong with outside help. But they have to be there for a specific purpose, for some knowledge that you don’t have. These are usually very smart people, and they are very good at PowerPoint presentations. But you shouldn’t rely on them more than the people in your own company." - Keough
PowerPoint presentations? That's what consultants are good at - really? Certainly, the man is entitled to his opinion, but that one just felt like an unecessary dig. Regardless, I think this is a good opportunity to think about the relationship that you, as a consultant, have with a client and the critical importance of defining the value that you bring to a client in your consulting role. Let's say you have a long-term contract with a particular client, or even a client for whom you do smaller projects on an occassional basis. Outside of the initial proposal that suimmarizes your proposed work, how often do you sit down with the client to discuss the results of the project to-date, or for a simple "feel good" conversation about how things are going? Certainly, in most all projects, there are milestones that must be met or final results that must be achieved to note success.
In this case, I'm talking about having conversations that don't just rely on progress you can check off on paper, but rather progress in the relationship with the client. Does your client trust you? Is he/she able to share both positive and negative feedback about a project? Even if the project is meeting its original goals, does the client still view the project as needed and/or valuable to his company? Asking these questions may seem obvious, but they often get lost or forgotten during the course of a project. And the result is a client, like Keough, who eventually finds it convenient to blame "outsiders" for undue influence that pulled their company off-track. How do you ensure that clients find value in what you do? Leave a comment and let us know.
Tuesday July 15, 2008
The workload for independent contractors is on the rise as companies continue looking for ways to cut costs while maintaining productivity levels. The good news for freelancers comes at the expense of employees as small business salaries took a .04 percent dip in June. That's according to a survey from SurePayroll that shows average salaries declining (except in the Western region) by more than $200 since the start of 2008.
Where are companies spending the money they're saving on salaries, payroll taxes and benefits? Hiring freelancers, of course. In fact, SurePayroll indicates June is the fifth month in a row that saw a rise in companies engaging contractors. Breaking down the numbers, the survey indicates there are around 3.54 contractors for every 100 employees. That may not seem significant, but you can expect to see those numbers increase as the economy continues to tighten the purse strings of employers. Hiring freelancers can be a less expensive option that comes with an easy out once a project ends.
As a freelancer, the key is to take advantage of the "positive" shift in the market. Do you use economic realities as a marketing tool? Let us know if your marketing efforts tout the cost-savings benefit of using your freelance services.
Monday July 7, 2008
A new ruling favoring the National Geographic Society has left freelancers on the losing end of a battle over copyrights and future earnings. A federal appellate court in New York backed an earlier ruling in an Atlanta court, stating that magazines and newspapers can resell collective works and not owe additional royalties
to contributing freelancers.
According to this article from the Daily Report, the ruling ended a long-standing legal battle between National Geographic and a Florida-based freelance photographer. The gist of it is that the magazine repackaged earlier issues in a digital (CD) version, selling it as "The Complete National Geographic." The photographer's original work was included, but he received no additional payment for the use of the image. The court says, that's okay.
Why, you ask? The final decision concludes that as long as the product (in this case a CD) being resold is a duplication of the existing product (the magazine) - considered a "collective work," then there is no copyright infringement. It's essentially the same product. However, if a photograph (or an article) is taken from the original product and used on its own, such as on a website, or is assembled as part of a new work that differs from the original, then the freelance photographer or writer is owed additional monies for use of the copyrighted materials.
What do you think? Does the final ruling seem fair - or are freelancers getting the short end of the moneybag?