Good morning everyone – I am the author for the above title (SMB Consulting Best Practices) and I like to hold virtual book readings by posting up a passage! So here you go – read on. BTW – my Small Business Server 2008 (SBS 2008) book is here!
There are different types of work to pursue as an SMB consultant. This includes project and recurring work. Both types of work present different engagement opportunities.
Many SMB consultants view consulting from a “love ‘em and leave ‘em” project orientation. That’s because consulting has traditionally been pitched as an engagement-to-engagement endeavor. Project work is filled with endless variety; offers the ability to see a beginning, middle, and end to the work; is comprised of complete discrete tasks; and lets you have enough mobility to avoid getting roped into client-side internal politics.
It is the project work that first attracted me to SMB consulting, because by moving from job site to job site, I see more techno scenarios in a month than many in-house network administrators see in year. The variety creates exposure to a wealth of technology solutions.
So far so good. But what are the drawbacks to project work? It can result in erratic cash flow. Months with back-to-back project activity are typically very lucrative. Months in between projects are darn lean, sometimes forcing you to dip into retained earnings or savings. And the constant shifting of assignments doesn’t sit well with all personality types. Some prefer a longterm relationship to project work.
There’s nothing like the comfort of having a book of clients with whom you have long-term relationships of providing technology support services. You develop site-specific expertise that helps you retain the account (versus a new consultant who would have to relearn the computer system). Much of the work, at least in terms of managing the client, becomes routine. In consulting, a routine process is often a profitable process.
Recurring work also introduces you to the Microsoft mantra of “solution selling.” Here the focus is on a technology solution that meets business needs and not necessarily a wham-bam installation project. By its very nature, solution selling is a longer-term viewpoint to building customer relationships.
In reality, your SMB consulting practice will probably have both project and ongoing maintenance work. I encourage this diversity as I enjoy the variety of projects, but really like the familiarity of my steady book of clients. More important, the dips in project work tend to be offset by my ongoing maintenance work.
Harry Brelsford, CEO at SMB Nation (www.smbnation.com)
MBA, MCSE, CNE, CLSE, CNP, MCP, MCT, SBSC (Microsoft Small Business Specialist)
PS – my Small Business Server 2008 (SBS 2008) book is now here!