10 Unwritten Rules for a Consultant to Live By
Now I’ve never been a consultant myself, but I have friends who have been consultants. Namely Kyle. What do you think of these rules?
- You work for the client, not the consulting firm. No matter who cuts the payroll check, the client is the one paying for your services. Do the right thing for the client, not the consulting firm (or anyone else).
- Your network of consultants is your most important asset.
- Consultants should keep a blacklist of firms and other consultants that should be avoided, and why. Share this list with your network of consultants but not to the general public.
- Do not make negative comments about another consultant within ear shot of an employee of a client, and especially around the sales and marketing people of a consulting firm. Negative comments are fine between consultants, but, keep it “in the family”. But, never break rule # 1. When dealing with non-consultants, do like your mom always told you, “if you don’t have anything nice to say about someone, don’t say anything at all”.
- When your consulting firm takes you out to lunch, remember, you are really the one buying lunch. It is coming out of the consulting firm’s cut out of your rate, so just pretend you are picking up the check. Would you really want to pay to have lunch with this person? The same thing holds true for all events and gifts you may get from the consulting firm.
- Avoid give consulting firms information on possible leads without first getting everything in writing (especially your commission). And even then, the contract usually isn’t worth the paper it is written on. Don’t expect to get any money for info on leads, so be careful who you give them out to.
- When referring another consultant to a consulting firm, expect a finder’s fee. $2 per hour is the minimum that they should offer. Flat fees typically benefit the consulting firm not you, so try to avoid them. Remember, your finder’s fee is coming out of the consultant’s pocket. So if the consultant is part of your network, you should waive the fee. Your network keeps you employed.
- If you didn’t negotiate your rate starting at the consulting firms billing rate to the client don’t try to find out what it is, unless you are prepared for the consequences. That knowledge will usually just make you disgruntled.
- Never tell the client what the consulting firm is paying you. If they need to know, it is up to the firm to disclose that info (see rules #1 and #8).
- Avoid professional days. You don’t bill for hours you don’t work, so you shouldn’t work for hours that you don’t bill. A good project plan, with a budget to match it, is a must. Unless of course, if you created the project plan, then you should live with the mess that you created.
[Listening to: Groove Salad - - (0:00)]