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I joined a consultancy startup a couple years ago. Set aside culture aspirations and your office decor for a second, here's the truth.

1. demand 75% utilization from everyone in delivery. That means 75% of a 40 hour week is billed to a client.

2. If your PMs are happy then the client is happy, if the client is happy then the project is fine. Talk to your PMs often.

3. Bridge sales and delivery with a liaison who has a foot in each department. Give them the authority to tell sales to STFU and also to tell delivery get it done or else.

edit back to #1 a billed hour is your only source of revenue in consulting. Further, there are only so many hours to sell. Do some math and let that guide you in project decisions.




If there are only so many hours in a day, then why bill hourly? It’s a self-imposed limit to what you can earn.


There are two sides to this. Most clients will want some form of cost control on their end. If the final proposal has ambiguity, you best bet the client's procurement team or relationship manager will want to discuss this. They have people they report to as well, and it's in their best interest to get the best price. The forecast has to have some form of predictability/reliability, otherwise prospective clients will simply stop returning your emails.


> procurement team or relationship manager will want to discuss this

The trick is to find clients who have authority to make decisions without approval from HR or Procurement or wherever.

Despite being a one-person consultancy, I did a multi-month project for a global telecom company. As you would expect, this company has a complicated vendor management system, project approval process, budget approval process, and so on. But because my client was a decision-maker (and not a mid-level manager), none of that mattered...

They wanted my help and they needed it fast, so they told me not to worry about the red tape and that they'd deal with it. The only time I heard from procurement/AP was a friendly request for my W-9 form.

Getting pushback from other departments about value-based billing means you're not dealing with the right person. The right person, a decision-maker, will make those problems go away if they really want to work with you.


I'm assuming none of your SOWs have gone to RFP.


Not sure what you mean exactly. I never work through RFPs, and that's the point. If you find someone who really needs your help (not just anyone), they will get you through the necessary hoops and deal with bureaucracy on your behalf.


Are you saying those who go to RFP to keep cost control transparent really don't need the help? It's also kind of egotistical to assume a company needs you and you alone to solve their problem. If the problem is big and important enough, rest assure there's more than one shop that has an idea as to how to fix it.

I also think we're talking apples to oranges. A one person shop may approach contracts differently than a shop with 13 across 3 time zones.


> It's also kind of egotistical to assume a company needs you and you alone to solve their problem. If the problem is big and important enough, rest assure there's more than one shop that has an idea as to how to fix it.

How is it egotistical to say that you’re good enough at what you do that people will make their bureaucratic procedures go away to get you to work for them? It’s either true or it isn’t. The number of people who are literally the only person who can solve a given problem will always be minuscule but being one of the top five people in a very expensive niche is an achievable goal. Being the only one of those people with a public profile and a consulting practice is also achievable.

Think of academic expertise. I’m confident people go to Peter Norvig and ask him as an individual with incredibly deep, broad and publicly known Algorithms skills to do work for them and if they make it too bureaucratic he just declines the work. Likewise economists like Alvin Roth with mechanism design or other hairy, expensive and lucrative problems.

This model of being very good and being known to be very good works for individuals. I’d be shocked if there aren’t one man consulting shops that bill $1m a month, very expensive expertise exists, at a minimum in finance. They probably have a secretary but a principle plus minimal support staff consultancy.


Yeah we're too far into the weeds here... My only goal was to say that hourly billing is not always a requirement, even when dealing with large orgs.


w9 form would have been for full-time salary work?



I think there are positives and negatives to both. Fixed fee projects can come back to bite you if you underestimate.




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