Professional Services Practice Development - Dynamic Innovations Squad
Personal and Firm-Wide Performance Improvement for Management Consulting Firms - Dynamic Innovations Squad
Practice Development Services for Management Consulting Firms - Tom 'Bald Dog' Varjan
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Tools, Tips and Resources for Consulting Firms

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This Tool Shed contains information, tools, templates, concepts and ideas that most often fly in the face of well-established orthodoxy. So, unless you are willing to have your thinking seriously challenged and your beliefs provoked, you'd better paddle off to some more peaceful waters, and not waste any of your precious time at this site.

However keep this in mind from Mark Twain: "The best swordsman in the world doesn't need to fear the second best swordsman in the world; no, the person for him to be afraid of is some ignorant antagonist who has never had a sword in his hand before; he doesn't do the thing he ought to do, and so the expert isn't prepared for him; he does the thing he ought not to do and often it catches the expert out and ends him on the spot."

Every truth passes through three distinct stages: First it is ridiculed. Then it is opposed violently. Finally, it is accepted as being evident. If you read something here, and you say to yourself "maybe", then implement it on a small scale.

Just try it for a few days or weeks on a small scale, and monitor your results. Forget stories, excuses and the typical "too busy" bullshit. As the Nike slogan says: "Just do it". If it works, keep it, if not then toss it and move on. Just keep taking action. Look, Babe Ruth did not become the Home Run King by quietly sitting in a corner, being busy preparing for the earth-shattering event. He kept striking out at that ball and some worked out nicely.

Published Articles in Magazines

Small Business Canada - 20 Fantabulous Ways to Raise and Safeguard Professional Fees. Read article here.

Forum - Year End is Coming: Does That Mean It's Client Abandoning Time Again? Read article here.

RainToday - 10 Ways To Increase Your Fees And Improve Your Performance Part 1. Read article here.

RainToday - 10 Ways To Increase Your Fees And Improve Your Performance Part 2. Read article here.

Forum - Hiring the Right Dudes or Dudettes for Occasional Project Work. Read article here.

Forum - Time vs. Value: Which One Do You Get Paid for? Read article here.

BC Business - Cracking the Billable Hours Ceiling. Read article here.

Business Services West - Stop Time-Based Fee For Service Professionals. Read article here.

Business Services West - Ten Ways to Increase Client Value, While Reducing Your Time and Effort of Delivering It. Read article here.

The Curse of Karl Marx: Why Most Freelancers Under-Charge For Their Services And What To Do About It?

FreelanceCamp 604 Cconference, Vancouver 29 May 2010

Live workshop I held on 29 May 2010 at the FreelanceCamp 604 conference in Vancouver, hosted and organised by The Networking Hub.

Podcast Version. Right click the link and click "Save As".

Free Consulting Ammunition Vault

Black papers, audios, videos, newsletter archives

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Getting Started In Consulting For New Immigrants In Canada...

Moving to a new country and starting a new life and career always present some difficulties. Just think of it. You set your eye on a career you wanted to pursue. Then you got on the path to get the relevant education and experience. Then you graduated, and then decided to move into a new country.

Then having landed in the new country you realise that your credentials are not recognised and your experience is ridiculed. So, you have two options in the new country:

1. Either you go back to school and start re-learning what you've already learnt before and pay a small fortune for another fancy certificate. And then you hope that with local credentials, life gets easier.


2. You unceremoniously appoint yourself as an expert in your field, acquire some clients and start charging them for your knowledge to solve their problems and to earn a damn good living.

In this booklet you find some specific ideas to start your own consulting practice in Canada. Some stuff applies to British Columbia only, but most of what you read can be used all across Canada.

Buyer's Guide for Consulting Services...

Hiring a consultant is always a big decision for buyers. The question is always whether or not the collaboration with the consultant will be a good investment for a lucrative return or just another expense. There are many books written on the legalities of working with consultants. This buyer's guide is more about the soft issues, like attitudes, mindsets and behaviours when seeking outside help.

At the end of the day you can have the best legally brilliant contract but a legal document won't buy another person's commitment and ion to your success. And the traditional "procurement" approach to hire consultants is just an early call for disaster. Yes, legally everything may be in place, but emotionally you have to adversaries trying to screw each other wherever and whenever they can.

15 Pillars Of Agile Practice Management

Practice Development Strategies For Premium Consulting Firms From The Ultimate Professional Service Firm: The Military Commando

In this white paper you can read about 15 concepts which I regard as vital when we're building a premium consulting firm. For this I use concepts from agile project management and operating principles and practices of military commandos that are probably the most "effective" teams on the planet.

In many places in my writings I compare consulting firms to Special Forces commandos. While in industrial organisations, like in regular armies, we find narrow specialists in isolated silos, in the best consulting firms, just like in Special Forces commandos, we find cross-trained deep generalists who can think in context.

Why Many Consulting Firms Consistently and Persistently Undercharge For Their Services... and What to Do about It

It's a brief overview of why consultants should charge for the value they deliver to their clients as opposed to the amount of time they work with them.

Articles, Wonderings, Ponderings, Hallucinations and Incidental Brain Farts

Resources on Client Acquisition

The blunt and naked reality is that many consulting firms are breathtakingly lazy, lousy, ignorant and impotent marketers. They are bottomachingly good at what they do, but nipplepiercingly hopeless at promoting and sell their expertise even if their lives depended on it. They get so busy doing client work, that until the dreaded feast and famine knocks on their doors, they ignore marketing, and after the knock, they go often into a tailspin.

As management guru, Tom Peters says, "without marketing you're nothing". Based on this statement, it is important to set time, money and effort aside to constantly market your services. But by marketing I don't mean chasing people like a peddler. I do mean creating gravity which attracts buyers to you the way honey attracts bears, so you can pick and choose who you want to do business with.

  1. Template to Calculate Your Daily Rates (MS Excel File)

  2. Template to Calculate Your Performance Ratios (MS Excel File)

  3. Three Elements of Creating the Right Buying Environment

  4. Some of the Most Common Client Acquisition Mistakes

  5. 14 Ways of Wasting Your Marketing Budget

  6. Ten Clients Acquisition Truths

  7. Some Pragmatic Lead Generation Methods

  8. Top Ten Benefits of Using External Client Acquisition Help

  9. Collaboration Fee-Splitting Calculations (MS Excel File)

  10. Seven Reasons to Pump Your Marketing Muscles Not Your Sales Muscles

  11. Ten Deadly Proposal Preparation Pitfalls

  12. The Book of Boredom, Yawn and Drab: Are You Making These Nine Fatal Mistakes in your Yellow Pages Ads?

  13. Are You Missing These Ten Elements On Your Website's Home Page?

Resources on Consulting

Just as lack of illness is not necessarily means vibrant health, the lack of a full-time job does not mean that you are a consultant. In this section we discuss some concepts about consulting as it is different from being a contract worker (options: outsourced labourer, slave on demand, etc.), or as one of my past university students called it, situational elbow grease.

  1. Year End is Coming - It Is Client Abandoning Time Again

  2. Guaranteeing Professional Services

  3. Three Roles Consultants Can Take with Their Clients

  4. Checking Client's Commitment to Make Certain the Buyer is Ready for the Proposed Change

  5. Tactics to Build High Octane Relationships

  6. Setting Your Professional Boundaries

  7. Are You an IT Consultant or a Computer Repair Person?

  8. The Value of Zero-Based Thinking to See the Forest Beyond the Tree

  9. Creating Long-Term Partnerships with Clients

  10. The Major Differences Between Strategies and Tactics

  11. The Six Basic Problems of Traditional Consulting

  12. Deliverables in Professional Service Businesses - Part 1: Tangibles

  13. Deliverables in Professional Service Businesses - Part 2: Intangibles

  14. Input vs. Output-Based Consulting

  15. Anatomy of Traditional Consulting

  16. Five Ways of Elevating Your Innate Creativity for Higher Value

  17. The Four Cs of Change, and How Easily We Can Get In the Way

Resources on Firm Management

This section deals with various issues of growing your firm by recruiting staff. So now beyond being a professional in a certain field, you have to face the leading, managing and supporting your people in their and your success.

This section deals with various issues of growing your firm by recruiting staff. So now beyond being a professional in a certain field, you have to face the leading, managing and supporting your people in their and your success.

  1. Recruitment Made Simple and Effective

  2. - and then a Lunatic Invented Full-Time Employment

  3. Ten Ways of Building Values in Your Firm

  4. How Complacency is Created in Service Firms

  5. Run, Hide, Even Bury Yourself or You Will Get Trained

  6. Creating Your Advisory Board

Resources on Values and Fees

There is a huge difference between performing tasks and creating deliverables for competitive (low) fees and improving your clients' circumstances for premium fees. Are you positioned as a Timex or as a Rolex?

  1. How Are You Doing with Fee Objections?

  2. The Inherent Lose-Lose Dynamics Of Time-Based Per Diem Fees

  3. Service Professional or a Service Workhorse: Ten Ways of Increasing Client Value, thus Your Fees, While Reducing Your Time and Effort of Delivering Them

  4. Seven Pricing Considerations for Professional Services

Commando Consulting Newsletter Archive

You can find the podcast version of the newsletter, together with other pieces if premium content, inside the Consulting Ammunition Vault. You can request your free access by entering your name and email in the form below...

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All other newsletter articles are somewhere above as articles.

2018 Issues

Oct: What Options Do You Offer To Buyers?
Sep: What Are Some Tell-Tale Signs Of Bad Consulting Sales Copy?
Jul: Why Sales Goals Are Destroying Boutique Consultancies
Jun: Client Acquisition For Boutique Consultancies With The Right Automation-Humanisation Balance
Apr: Top 10 Post-Internet Sales Trends For Boutique Consultancies
Mar: Seven Inbound Marketing Tactics To Reach Cream Of The Crop Consulting Clients
Feb: Is This Buyer Persona Thingy Real Or Glorified Bullshit?
Jan: Do You Really Need To Itemise Your Consulting Proposals

2017 Issues

Dec: Gold-Mining Or Dumpster Diving? Which One Does Your Client Acquisition Resemble?
Nov: Who Gets Paid The Most In Boutique Consulting Firms?
Jun: The Ins And Outs Of Automating Marketing In Boutique Consultancies
May: 5 Ways Good Copy Can Turbocharge Consulting Boutiques' Inbound Marketing
Apr: How Can Content Marketing Boost Sales For Boutique Consultancies?
Jan: Why Should Boutique Consultancies Bother With Marketing Automation?

2016 Issues

Dec: 6 Erroneous Practice Development Gospels Many Boutique Consultancies Follow
Nov: No, Not Another Sales-Driven Consultancy
Oct: 10 Surefire Signs Of Underperforming Consulting Collaterals
Sep: 6 Reasons Why So Many Consulting Projects Fail
Jun: Oh, Those Sweet But Useless One-Legger Sales Meetings... And How To Avoid Them
Mar: To Acquire Clients At A Hare's Speed, Move At A Tortoise's Pace
Feb: Five Awesome Benefits Of Keeping Your Consulting Firm Small
Jan: 5 Guidelines To Attracting Sexy Consulting Engagements

2015 Issues

Dec: Wishing For A Kick-Arse Rainmaker? Stop Right Now!
Nov: Three Client Acquisition Lunacies Many Consulting Boutiques And Solo Consultants Fall For
Sep: How To Structure Your Content For Maximum Reading And Action-Taking
Aug: How to Avoid Being Relegated to Procurement Agents or Other Pretending Buyers
July: How Well Do You Really Understand What's Going On Inside Your Buyer's Head?
Jun: Which Of These Six Deliverables Should Premium Consultancies Offer To Their Clients?
May: Do Premium Consulting Firms Really Need Designated Rainmakers?
Apr: The Beauty of Direct Mail in Marketing Consulting Services
Mar: Eight Ways of Building And Nurturing Your Firm's Internal Values
Feb: 13 Competencies For Great Solo- And Boutique Consultants For Long-Term Happiness
Jan: Assessing Consulting Engagements Both For Financial And Psychological Satisfaction

2014 Issues

Nov: A Few Words About Consultants' Productivity
Oct: The Flagrantly Fundamental Flaws Of Recruiting Consultants Through Headhunters
Sep: Getting Clear on Clients' Expectations of Consultants
Aug: Developing Your Consulting Power
Jul: 14 Ways Clients May Resist Consultants' Recommendations And What To Do About It
Jun: 11 Reasons To Interrupt Ongoing Consulting Engagements And Walk Away From Them
May: 11 Reasons To Walk Away From Consulting Opportunities
Apr: Looking Out For Good And Bad Sales Leads
Mar: The 4 Objectives Of An Effective Consulting Marketing System
Feb: Which Of These Three Parts Are Missing From Your Consulting Practice Development Plan?
Jan: 11 Silly Direct Mail Blunders Even Smart Boutique Consultancies Make

2013 Issues

Dec: Do You Have Commissioned Salespeople Wreaking Havoc In Your Consulting Firm?
Nov: 17 Distinction Points Between Real Consulting Firms And Contract Labour Firms
Oct: 9 Good Reasons To Reject Requests For Free Consulting
Sep: Why Even Hot Prospects Give Consultants A Cold Shoulder When They Behave Like Salespeople
Aug: 13 Sinister Business Habits That Can Ruin Consultancies' Reputation
Jul: 11 Bodacious Brochure Blunders Consulting Firms Make
Jun: 7 Ways to Destroy Morale And Job Satisfaction in Consulting Firms
May: 10 Flaws in Assessing Resumes for Consulting Positions
Apr: Four Sources of Mismanagement at Boutique Consulting Firms
Mar: 21 Planning Potholes Consulting Firms Can Fall Into And Get Hopelessly Lost In
Feb: Are You Growing Your Consulting Firm For Show or Dough
Jan: Fostering Partner's Mentality Among Salaried Consulting Associates

2012 Issues

Dec: 6 Ways to Foster Firm-Wide Innovation In Boutique Consulting Firms
Nov: How To Estimate And Price Contingency-Based Consulting Engagements
Oct: Conducting First Meetings With First-Time Consulting Buyers
Aug: How Image Marketing Can Create Profit Problems For Boutique Consulting Firms
Jul: How To Use The RACI Matrix for Scoping, Staffing And Managing Consulting Engagements
Jun: Doing Implementation Or Facilitating Consulting Project Implementation
May: 14 Ways Consulting Firms Waste Their Marketing Budgets Part 2
Apr: 14 Ways Consulting Firms Waste Their Marketing Budgets Part 1
Mar: Associates, Alliances And Subcontractors
Feb: Differences Between Marketing Products And Consulting Services, And The Dangers Of Confusing The Two
Jan: 11 Key Attributes Of "Respected Authority" Calibre Consultancies

2011 Issues

Dec: Are You A Tradesperson Who Installs Or A Consultant Who Implements?
Nov: Why To Keep Investing In Your Consulting Firm Even When You Think You Can't Afford It
Oct: Techniques for Consultants to Become More Valuable to Clients
Sep: Are You Rendering Your Consulting Services As A Slave Or As A Real Professional?
Aug: How Perfect Clients Can Elevate Your Consulting Firm's Success
Jul: Seven Consulting Firm Leadership Pains In The Arse... And How To Reduce Or Eliminate The Pain
Jun: Five Ways of Elevating Consulting Firms Innate Creativity for Higher Value
May: Nine Ways of Attracting and Retaining Loyal Rainmakers
Apr: Does The Use Of Sales Commissions Fit Into Selling Consulting Services?
Mar: The Inherent Lunacies of Human Resources Departments in Consulting Firms
Feb: 18 Ways of Acquiring High-End Consulting Clients Part 2
Jan: 18 Ways of Acquiring High-End Consulting Clients Part 1

2010 Issues

Dec: From Task-Focused Helping Brawn to Value-Focused Helping Brain?
Nov: Ten Causes of Low Morale in Consulting Firms
Oct: Getting Clear on Clients' Expectations to Maximise Consulting Engagements' Value
Jul: Techniques To Deliver More Consulting Project Value To Clients, And Raising Your Fees Accordingly
Jun: How a Dedicated Sales Force Can Destroy Your Chances Of Selling Your Consultancy Services
May: Some Erroneous Yet Commonly Used Ways Of Establishing Consultants' Salaries
Apr: Seven Distinctions for Outstanding Consulting Firms
Mar: "Unjerking" Your Clientele For Stress-Free Business Part 2 of 2
Feb: "Unjerking" Your Clientele For Stress-Free Business Part 1 of 2
Jan: Three Ways Of Positioning Consulting Firms

2009 Issues

Dec: Seven Potential Conflict Sources Between Clients and Consultants
Nov: Hidden Dangers Of Dodging Your People's Personalities In Your Consulting Firm's Profile
Oct: Does Pay For Performance Programmes Work In Consulting Firms? Part 2
Sep: Does Pay For Performance Programs Work In Consulting Firms? Part 1
Aug: Four Fundamental Flaws of Recruiting New Consultants Through Recruitment Consultancy Agencies
Jul: Are You Ready to Get Tough on Your Consulting Firm? Part 3
Jun: Are You Ready to Get Tough on Your Consulting Firm? Part 2
May: Are You Ready to Get Tough on Your Consulting Firm? Part 1
Apr: Recruiting Consulting Associates With Knowledge Or With Understanding?
Mar: Paraphrasing Hamlet: To Bid Or Not To Bid On RFPs, That Is The Question
Feb: Eight Pointers To Increase The Success Of Your Small-Scale In-House Management Educational Seminars - Part 2
Jan: Eight Pointers To Increase The Success Of Your Small-Scale In-House Management Educational Seminars - Part 1

2008 Issues

Dec: Should Consulting Firms Outsource Their Own Marketing And Selling?
Nov: Are You Planning Your Appointments For Sales Diagnosis Or Sales Presentation?
Oct: Website Landing Page Optimisation For Premium Management Consultancy Firms For Effective Lead Generation
Sep: Writing And Submitting Consulting Proposals With Clients' Businesses In Mind
Aug: Can Passion And Enthusiasm Really Increase Profits?
Jul: 15 Pillars Of Agile Practice Management - Part 3 Of 3
Jun: 15 Pillars Of Agile Practice Management - Part 2 Of 3
May: 15 Pillars Of Agile Practice Management - Part 1 Of 3
Apr: Handling Consulting Prospects Who Are Dragging Their Feet Or Misbehave
Mar: It's The Ends That Matter Not The Means To Reach Them
Feb: 11 Tips To Increase Attendance For Your Lead Generation Educational Seminars
Jan: Offering Paid Initial Consulting

2007 Issues

Dec: Six Things To Do And Six Things To Avoid Doing In Premium Consulting Firms
Nov: The Lunacy Of Using A Separate Sales Force For Consulting Firms
Oct: Five Signs of a Smart Client Acquisition Strategy
Sep: The Deadly Self-Delusion Of Clients' Self-Diagnoses
Aug: Who's Right: Is Mainstream Branding or 'Sidestream' Individualistic Better?
Jul: Using Chaos to Improve Firm-Wide Performance
Jun: Who Qualifies Your Prospects? Sales Or Marketing?
May: Does Your HR (Human Repression or Human Remains) Department Keep Talented People Out Of Your Firm?
Apr: Follow The Herd At Your Own Peril: Discovering Sales Trends In Consulting Firms
Mar: Why Most Consulting Firms Resent Internal Changes
Feb: The Inherent Delusions of Knowledge Sharing in Management Consulting Projects
Jan: Strategies for Talent Acquisition

2006 Issues

Dec: Seven Types of Inefficiency Traps Professional Firms Can Fall Into
Oct: Time Management Considerations For Professional Service Firm Managers
Sep: Of Sailors and Mountaineers: The Inherent Dangers of Internal Competition
Jul: Using Compensation To Improve Performance: You Can't Motivate People With Money
Jun: Old School Selling (Peddler) vs. New School Selling (Trusted Advisor)
May: Eight Advantages of Charging Premium Fees and Eight Disadvantages Of Failing To Do So
Apr: The Four Horsemen: Four Behaviours That Tank Consulting Relationships
Mar: Eight Leadership Principles Professional Service Firms Should Learn From The Military
Feb: Nine Hidden Dangers Of Nickel-and-Dime Cheapstake Buyers
Jan: Seven Defining Characteristics of Value-Based Consulting

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As you grow your people, in return, so they grow your firm