David C. BakerPrincipal at ReCourses, Inc.

Author, speaker, advisor, helping entrepreneurial experts make better business decisions. More information at http://www.davidcbaker.com

Recent Answers

You've received some good help here, already, so I won't repeat all of that. Instead, I'll highlight one of the very simple but crucial things you can do, and that's to help the client you are depending on tell your story in the right way. The longer they have been your client, the less likely they will introduce you properly. That's because they may have you in a box that you've long ago busted out of. I think you know what I mean, too.

Picture a lead coming in by email, and you set up a phone call to explore the relationship. Somewhere in the call you'll ask, "Hey, how did you hear about us?" What they say next will make your heart sink or soar, because you'll immediately know--based on who introduced you--what impressions they already have. You're quick, or cheap, or fun to work with, or a great problem solver, etc.

So don't take that for granted--it's not just getting them to introduce you, but feeding them the right story to tell so that you're far down the road of being positioned appropriately.

If you want to find it yourself, Pratt's Stats would be the place to start. But more than likely you want to talk to a valuation expert that's done hundreds of them. I've done that for hundreds of agencies, but never for your tyoe of firm.

If your firm is small, you must normalize your compensation so that you aren't subsidizing the net. Regardless of size, you'll have to account for any client concentration issues.

As background, I managed a publisher for 5 years and I have owned a publishing company (RockBench Publishing Corp.) for 6 years. Very few people make money on their books. I have written four, and have made money on two of them, but even that is rare. In most cases, you write a book because it gives you a bigger platform. So when you answer this question for yourself, don't think about the money you make from the book itself but from the opportunities that the book provides. In that context, the rule of thumb is to give away one book for every two books that you sell. But it's not quite as simple as that, because money is the currency of respect, and there's very little branding value in giving away a free book. You get tons of mileage, though, from giving away a book that they would otherwise have to pay for. So here's the answer: price the book normally, and then give away copies.

I would suggest Ireland. The workforce is educated and hard-working. They speak English, which is critical for international work. Very favorable tax structure.

Don't make it quite so complicated as some of these answers propose. Just inject a little humor and say: "If I didn't work so hard at keeping it otherwise, we'd be huge."

Dan has given you some excellent advice. On the low-level, purely mechanical front, send your pitch via some tracked service like FedEx or UPS, for two reasons.

1. Nobody is going to throw one away without opening it.

2. When a road-blocking gatekeeper rolls you to a stop, just say: "Could I speak with Stephanie, please? I'm following up on a FedEx she received yesterday."

Here's an pretty reliable way to test ideas like that.

First, are there competitors already in that space? There should be at least a dozen because that indicates viability. You might very well be the first to succeed, but the odds are against it.

Second, are people losing sleep trying to find the solution you are offering? You want that sort of marketing power or the spend moves from the "need" to the "want" column.

Third, save up all the money you'll need before you launch. Debt is the modern equivalent of slavery and it's just too easy to think you have a great commercial idea when people are throwing money at you. And you aren't allowing natural market forces to tell you that's it's not a go. How serious, committed, and disciplined are you? Save it up. You'll spend it a lot more carefully, too. :)

Fourth, don't start anything without an exit plan, even if it's provisional. Address when you'll fold up the tent, too. Stopping takes as much courage as starting, and it's the TRUE mark of an entrepreneur. It's the stupid people who keep going when they shouldn't.

Fifth, spend a lot of quality time articulating your positions on this topic. Fill your head with ideas like you've done to this point and you won't gain much additional clarity until you empty your head. Besides, the clarity comes IN the articulation.

Best wishes to you.

1. Let's define successful. Each of us has individual goals and only some of them are monetary. But I take it you are asking about how to make money consulting! I'd be very careful listening to the advice of a consultant who isn't successful by that measure. I pledged to never accept money from someone who makes more than I do. Why in the world would they need me to get to the next level when I haven't demonstrated both good ideas and the discipline to do it? I'm grateful to have been consulting for nearly 20 years, and here are some specifics (fees billed, by myself). I hit my stride four years in and billed $307,000. For the next four years, it rose every year until I hit $686,000. Then decreased the next four years during the recession, reaching $339,000. Then back up in 2007 to $804,000. Then a tad down each year during three spinal surgeries and recoveries. Then back up to a new high in 2011 of just over $1 million. Now I'm at a sane level. :)

2. Recognize the "blah blah me too lemming-like" marketing speak you'll read everywhere and plant a flag on ONE specific mountain instead. Make it your business to be the unquestionable SME (subject matter expert) to defend it. Ignore the really bad advice to put your eggs in one basket or to just follow your heart and the money will come. (There are a lot of people following their heart and struggling.)

3. Consider these very distinct stages in how you make money in consulting, in order:
a. Forget spreadsheets; see your hourly rate as a positioning tool.
b. Get a second shift job to keep from compromising while you build it.
c. Fill >60% of ALL the time you work w/ recoverable fees.
d. Maintain >60% with an increasingly higher hourly rate.
e. Move exclusively to package pricing w/o reference to hours.
f. Build scalable income (webinars, books, etc.).

4. Be friendly but not too accessible. Experts are not accessible in developed cultures.

5. Take two stances, concurrently. Be very helpful in giving away terrific advice for free as long as you don't personalize it. Then charge ridiculous amounts of money to do so.

6. Figure out why you're in business. I'd suggest these three things, in this order:
a. Make money.
b. Make a difference.
c. Enjoy the process.
If you don't charge enough, no one listens and you don't have an opportunity to make a difference. But just charging a lot of money is very emptying.

7. Take chances and be different. On my website I tell visitors who aren't a good fit, list all my prices, and list all my competitors. I'm not sure there's a business in the world that does that!

Best wishes to you.

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