Project Management

Six resolutions for a new year of consulting


It's hard to believe that I'm about to kiss 2007 goodbye when it seems like we barely got to know each other.  With 2008 right around the corner, it's time to make some resolutions for the new year.  Well, these aren't so much resolutions as they are goals or guidelines.  Some of them even conflict with one another, potentially.  Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Do more of the work that I want to do, and less of the work that I have to do.  For me, that means more exploration of newer programming languages and technologies, as well as more writing.  It's weird, but that now-clichéd book title Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow often turns out to be true.  When I started my blogs in 2001 and 2006, I had no idea how I would make any money from them.  But I kept writing, and this year I landed paying gigs writing here for TechRepublic as well as at [Geeks are Sexy].  Likewise, if I spend more time working with a programming language or platform that I like, chances are I'll find an opportunity to use it for a paying project someday.
  2. Spend evenings and weekends face to face with my family instead of my monitors.  Over the Christmas holiday I got some not-so-subtle feedback about the amount of time I spend online.  You know what?  Real life is way more important than Second Life, and my family will be here long after my Facebook friends fade away.
  3. Make more money than last year -- but not at the expense of my family, my health, or my sanity.  I'm raising my rates for most of my clients this year.  Sorry, but I'm worth it.  Some of my clients have been at the same rate for several years.  It's time.
  4. Do something for each of my clients that makes them say, "Wow, I'm glad we hired that guy."  It doesn't matter what the project, there's always a way to kick it up a few degrees on the leetometer.  Not by adding layers of complexity, but by focusing on simple, elegant designs that generate those V-8 moments when everyone knocks themselves on the forehead and says "why didn't I think of that?"  To be fair, though, the most elegant designs usually materialize in round two or three after much feedback from the client and their end users.  The trick is to keep going until we get there, rather than releasing round one as "it works, so it's good enough".
  5. Don't put up with clients who stretch the terms of their agreement -- whether it's expecting free work,  not paying on time, or some other insult.  They're not worth the hassle.  Tell them where my limits are, and stick to them.  If they come around, great.  If they walk, then it's better that way.
  6. Make sure that my good clients know that they're appreciated.  I've been known to give customer appreciation credits to clients who consistently pay on time and provide a constant flow of work.  Some years I've sent out presents during the holiday season.  I'm not sure what I'll do this year; I'll have to be creative.  One thing I can do all year long, though, is to let them know that I'm here for them, ready to work and listen.

So, what are your goals for the new year?

About

Chip Camden has been programming since 1978, and he's still not done. An independent consultant since 1991, Chip specializes in software development tools, languages, and migration to new technology. Besides writing for TechRepublic's IT Consultant b...

7 comments
ceastwoods
ceastwoods

I think this is a great article. It's important to remember there are lots of I.T. Professionals out there across many industries and as time goes on, it gets more and more competitive. We need to stay humble or we won't be around to see the next generation of computer users. We may know more about our job than the user, but isn't that what we get paid for? Research, stay informed and anticipate our client's needs? I support multiple law firms. I don't know didley squat about producing a brief or preparing for trial. They (legal professionals) don't try to rub it in my face, why should I be unprofessional and make them feel less intelligent than me? Ultimately, everyone loses. They just want to know I'm there if and when they need me. I need to build that confidence in them or they'll be calling a different support number the next time they need technical assistance. Go I.T. Professionals!

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Regarding how much you need to know about your clients' business, I think that the more you understand it the better off you'll be. On the other hand, you can only learn so much, and what they're really paying you for is your IT knowledge. So you have to balance it so you're not entirely clueless about what they're trying to accomplish, but you stay on top of what you're supposed to do for them.

kgibbs02
kgibbs02

Thanks Chip for very good points to remember. For all who read this one, remember that the referrals of previous clients sells better than all other medias. I am returning to IT consulting after having several surgeries. My wife (also my biggest fan) said I should reopen and go for broke. I did and before I sent a single email or mailer, old clients from my previous run have begin to call and want to know who I can recommend to replace me and I get the thrill of saying "me". They love it and I am back in the groove again. If you do anything different in 2008, make it your skill and presentation. Results and excellent customer service are priceless. If you do not have a solid plan for those 2 items. Make one! You will not regret it.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

I was still an IT manager. It would have made my job a lot easier. Here's to a great 2008!

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