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Consultant viewed as 'One-man show'

By haycoconsulting ·
I recently had a client make the statement "you do excellent work, but long-term, you're really just a one-man-show".

Obviously their concern was that I might not be around in 6 months to support the application I am writing for them.

I toldmy wife (and partner) that the problem is not that we ARE a one-man-one-woman operation. The problem is that we are PERCEIVED that way.

Admittedly, we are a home based consulting firm and do not have an office away from our home. On the other hand, we have been in business for five years and our clients include cities (one city over 200,000) and a major university.

Anyone out there with suggestions on how to overcome this problem without hiring a staff and renting a building with all the accompanying overhead? That might be the only way but I would like to hear how others handled this.

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Strategic Partnership

by road-dog In reply to Consultant viewed as 'One ...

Customers naturally want to know what thay will do if you are unavailable to assist them. Rather than manning up a department, do a little research on local "mercenary" contractors. Make a pre-arranged relationship where your interests are protected. If you develop secure strategic partnerships, you will have extra hands available if a plum project comes up that you will need help handling... Or to cover for you when you simply need a few weeks on the beach.

Works for me! I have developed these relationships with a couple of skilled folks seeking side money who are otherwise employed. It is a great fit because they make a few bucks here and there, and I am not worried about customer poaching because thay are happy where they are and do not want the hassle of running their own company.

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by Ken In reply to Strategic Partnership

You are a one man show and it sounds like you have a fairly impressive client list. Write! Publish! Start working on articles that establish you as "The Source" for your type of product.

When people climb the mountain to see the guru, they expect to see a one man operation. Establish your own mountain with industry articles.

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by TheChas In reply to Consultant viewed as 'One ...

I suspect that the client is concerned that they will not get the support that they need on a timely basis.

Other issues could include what happens if you are ill, or otherwise unable to work for a period of time.

Worst case, the client wants to work with only large firms.


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Great Situation

by ghstinshll In reply to Consultant viewed as 'One ...

Road dog mentioned a great idea for surviving that kind of business rush if need be!

As for what I hear you asking for, it sounds like they're worried about support... Do you have Service Level Agreements (SLA's) signed with them? You should, to guarantee their comfortin any situatio where they need you. There should be plenty of info about them here at TechRepublic. Your client needs to be assured that you are there for them, whether you have a 40-person team or not. By what business you'realready doing for them, they obviously don't need a 40-person team. If they need additional support and work from your business, then that's a business manager's decision to add staff or not. In that case, Road Dog's idea seems pretty solid!

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One Man? You Betcha!

by lance.gillis In reply to Consultant viewed as 'One ...

You should tell your client how IMPORTANT they are to your "one man" business and demonstrate that their needs come first in your world. Tell them how you are available to your best client (them) 24/7. Talk about your "value added" committment (the extra things you do that other larger firms would charge for). Throw in some minor stuff now and then. Remember, you are "selling" every time you see them. Good luck.

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Re: One man show (part 1)

by EnserNG In reply to Consultant viewed as 'One ...


Interesting comment, although complimentary, sort of scathing... The thing to remember is that you are a professional, who, through your superior reputation and hard work, have been able to build a stable practice which has out-lasted many of the best planned and supported corporations.


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Re: One man show (part 2)

by EnserNG In reply to Consultant viewed as 'One ...

You may want to pursue partnerships with, preferably, other independents, or, if need be, firms providing similar services and capabilities. Ensure you use non-compete agreements should you need them to performs any on-site support, and be sure to offer the same in return. Wouldn't want to see a one day fill in snagging your clients... Though not hiding the fact, also would recommend not advertise your non-corporate status, avoid such statements as "I will take this home today, me and the wife will work on it over dinner"-type comments. You may also want to check into partnering opportunities with large companies as well; Microsoft, Sun, and IBM all offer decent programs with numerous benefits. Publishing papers, articles, and opinions, applying for, and receiving awards, and obtaining certifications will further your reputation amongst prospective clients. Depending on your location, there may be inexpensive office or meeting facilities nearby should you need to host a client,and regardless, treat your clients as good as possible.


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Re: One man show (part 3)

by EnserNG In reply to Consultant viewed as 'One ...

Good luck, and who knows, you may be in a situation where you will need to hire those partners, at that point you can retain a business consultant who can assist with those "big" details.

Hope this helps,


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Point out the positive

by MadMark In reply to Consultant viewed as 'One ...

As a small business owner, it is important to portray yourself as a professional. Set up a webiste (yeah, yeah, everybody has one) and make it as polished as you can before putting it online. Look at what the big-boys are doing. Advertise. Yellow Pages, trade rags, local community papers, etc.

Build those strategic partnerships and alliances. Raod-Dog had a great suggestion about increasing your headcount without having to actually hire anyone or risk poaching.

Focus on how long you have been in business, AND how many years of experience you (and your partners) have in total.

Bring to your customers' attention how important they are to you, and how they are more than just another number.

The guy said it himself, you do excellent work. He is shortsighted if he thinks that good work that is recognized will not prosper if managed correctly. Score a few more contracts, build the business, and share the wealth. Bring in a few partners/employees. Bill Gates didn't buildan evil empire in the first few years of his career.

Good luck!

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Application Support Issue

by Oldefar In reply to Consultant viewed as 'One ...

Sounds to me like the issue is on-going support and the perception that a commercial application will have a greater chance of long term support.

The solution becomes one of ensuring the client that your application has a life span independent ofyou. Detailed documentation and source code may resolve the issue for the client. I am sure you can write a contract that limits that client from stealing the application rights while still providing him with the ability to maintain it.

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