Project Management

Tap early morning meetings to grow your IT consulting business

After six months of routinely scheduling early morning meetings, Erik Eckel says his IT consultancy is benefitting in numerous ways, including closing on a $25K deal.

 

You talk about wanting to grow your IT consulting business, but how hard are you trying, really? Sure, you maximize marketing dollars, keep technical skills sharp, and manage staff well, but you may still be missing one simple step that can further your IT consultancy's operations: schedule 7:00 A.M. meetings.

(Who said all the advice you receive on TechRepublic would be pain free?)

I'll be honest: There are days I regret scheduling 7:00 A.M. meetings. Sometimes it hurts rising at 6:00 A.M. But why is it easy, say, to get up early to travel to a Cincinnati Bengals game or catch a plane to a tropical resort? It's all about motivation.

If you're not 100 percent invested in your IT consultancy, you're in the wrong business. It's a tough industry; technologies change fast (sometimes even quarterly); economies shift; client needs change. It's a lot to stay on top of, so you have to embrace that chaos if you're going to be successful. Anything else is just phoning it in.

So get out of bed -- you were going to drink coffee anyway. Get yourself a yogurt or a bran muffin -- the company will pay for it.

Why?

You should be using that 7:00 A.M. slot to meet others offsite, to schedule coffee with potential new clients, and to schedule early get-togethers with potential vendors. And don't forget to invite potential business partners and staff to early morning meetings, too.

Just be sure to schedule the meeting early and offsite. Even though the meetings are early morning, by getting together offsite, you minimize interruptions from telephone calls, staff, email, and other office distractions. You can get a lot accomplished at an offsite 7:00 A.M. meeting.

I wasn't always a believer in the 7:00 A.M. meeting, but I've been following the practice for more than six months now, and I've closed more new deals (including one that generated $25K in newfound revenue) and tied up several loose ends that otherwise may have remained unresolved, as well as established partner relationships with two vendors.

If you're worried that the other party won't show up, they will. Almost daily, I meet a current vendor, a potential vendor, a current client, a potential client, a staff member, a contractor or other business partner before the rest of the city really gets moving. These meetings are proving invaluable in catching up on, refining, starting, or addressing opportunities and issues that would otherwise be missed.

Still skeptical?

Then do the math. If you schedule 7:00 A.M. coffees every day, you'll enjoy an extra 250 essentially distraction-free meetings annually.

The biggest benefit is you open up 250 hours of additional time to follow up on unresolved issues, pursue new opportunities, and meet vendors without cannibalizing your regular schedule. Plus, when these meetings are held early and offsite, disruptions and unforeseen conflicts arise far, far less often.

Even if you schedule only two 7:00 A.M. coffee meetings a week, you'll open hundreds of opportunities to develop and refine new and existing relationships. That's a pretty good deal. And, as I said before, you were probably going to grab a cup of joe anyway.

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About

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

8 comments
lordimpaq
lordimpaq

this depends on the location of your meetings and the general acceptance of the populace and your target clients. It would be different in other parts of the world.

PMPsicle
PMPsicle

Early morning meetings are a good reason to get up early. I used to attend a weekly breakfast meeting (BNI) for a number of years. Several benefits including limiting the impact on billings. It works wonders for non-billable hours. But there's a much better use for early mornings. Working on your company.... that may include planning (your day amongst other things), marketing, and any number of other items. Glen Ford, PMP http://www.TrainingNOW.ca http://www.LearningCreators.com http://www.LearningCreators.com/blog

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Even though I am not in IT consulting anymore, the early meeting is always a benefit. In my line of work, my clients are onsite and working by 7:30-8AM and its a real drag bothering them at a jobsite when they are managing their crews. I have always found, in this industry and all others I've worked in, that early morning meetings are the most productive of all. People are sharper, keener to have a coffee and shoot the breeze and it helps you get your own day off to a good start too. NOTE: all industries except one, music. If you try to contact a musician or promoter before noon-2PM, you are really going to get an earful! :)

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

In my case, it's to get my children ready for school and walk the dogs. Once again, this post shows the variety of consulting businesses. None of my current clients or prospects are local, so morning coffee would have to be over teleconference. But the lesson to make the most of your time is valuable. It's all too easy when you're freelance to let other things eat into your time.

PMPsicle
PMPsicle

Of course, the argument isn't all one sided. First, lots of people are not up or available at that time. So your breakfast meeting may not be thought of well. You may also not be able to contact necessary resources (i.e. people). Second, we all have internal rythms. Sometimes, we just don't function well in the morning. Some people don't function well at night. Rather than force a particular schedule generally we're better off determining our rythm and scheduling to it. Third, there's a limit to how long we can work. Let's face it -- running a business involves long, hard hours. If you're already working late at night, burning the candle at the other end isn't a wise thing to do! Okay, back to my coffee....*Yawn* |-O ... Guess I grab myself some breakfast soon .... Glen Ford, PMP http://www.TrainingNOW.ca http://www.LearningCreators.com http://www.LearningCreators.com/blog

PMPsicle
PMPsicle

Did you get out of IT??? I guess I've just been out of it. :D Glen

jck
jck

a) you only need to do it if your client-base is facilitated by it. b) this has been happening at Denny's and donut shops and cafes for decades. I used to go have a donut and coffee before I went to high school and talk to the donut shop owner, a seat upholstery shop owner, a printer, and my buddy (his dad was the upholsterer). We'd talk about business, sports, etc. But, you really don't wanna go pushing the 7:00AM meeting on a client. If you need to do it, then by all means. But, no reason killing yourself over a need or want that doesn't exist amongst your clients..current or perspective.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I have also been out of IT (as in Information Technology) since, uhhhhhhhhh, about 2006/2007'ish, I think.