IT Consulting Lessons Month in Review – January 2014

Let’s take a look at  some of the most thought provoking and helpful posts from around the web uncovered in the past month that were particularly relevant to the business of providing technical freelancing/services.

Flaws in Handling New Business Inquiries

The WAV Group had researchers pose as consumers and make inquiries with real estate brokers. The results were depressing. Their results were about right for technology consultants as well, in my experience.

Unfortunately, that’s not the the most depressing part. It’s embarrassing for me to admit this, but the very week this study came across my desk I blew off a new contact …and we were discussing some ways we could work together. I didn’t ignore him intentionally. I simply completely dropped the ball on getting back to him in an email thread we were having.

I never like to leave somebody hanging. I have no excuse, though I told myself I was too wrapped up in a couple of projects that suddenly picked up momentum that week to continue the thread wholeheartedly. I still should have acknowledged him and said something before it became a 14 (!) day gap of silence. This is Customer Service 101 and I blew it. Learn from my mistake.

“Learn all you can from the mistakes of others.  You won’t have time to make them all yourself. “— Alfred Sheinwold

What To Do When You’re Hemorrhaging Money

The always forthright Naomi Dunford over at IttyBiz discusses 5 things to do when you feel like you’re hemorrhaging money. This feeling, unfortunately, is common for freelancers and for anyone who goes into business for themselves since we’re constantly taking risks and not collecting a regular paycheck each week. She discusses how to figure out why you feel like you’re hemorrhaging money then how to decide what you’re going to do about it. The bottom-line is this: As long as you let that feeling just float around as a feeling, you’re going to bleed out.

Do Freelancers Need to Have an LLC/Corporate Entity?

Dr. Freelance (aka: Jake Poinier) answers a readers question about LLC/corporate entities for freelancers on his blog. My view is that even if you don’t form an entity initially, at least acquire an EIN (Tax ID) just for your business activities so you don’t end up giving out your social security number (SSN) to clients…

Getting an EIN was one of the first things I did because there was no way I was going to be handing out my SSN to clients … Doubly so when I’m doing information security consulting for them.

It was a pretty simple online process a few years ago and I think I even got it instantly (which was good because I needed it for a new client request that day!) It looks to be the same straightforward online application process to get an EIN from the IRS these days. Anyhow, go see what else Jake has to say on the LLC/incorporating topic and decide what makes the most sense for you. (Yes, the specifics of this are US-centric, but the principles apply elsewhere.)

The Business of Freelance: Tales of a Full Service Freelancer (Video)

Freelancer Michael Jones did a pretty bad ass presentation  (video) for a user group on The Business of Freelance based on his personal experiences and a broad economic examination of working as a digital creative services freelancer. His video presentation is 19 minutes long and well worth it. The good stuff starts just under 2 minutes in, but the first part gives you some context on his professional experience.

Posts on

Also, here’s a quick look back at the latest original content posted last month on the blog:

15 Ways to Get Paid Fast When Freelancing – These are the techniques I’ve found most effective to get paid fast when doing technology freelancing. Or, as I described it to some folks on Reddit,15 Ways To Get Paid With Less Hassle as a Freelancer: Battle Tested Techniques You Can Implement Immediately to Get Paid Fast, Efficiently, and Professionally.

The Freelancing Technologist Success Ladder – Many think that folks more successful than themselves are better at marketing, lucky… or some other mysterious attribute. That may be true, but often they’re in an entirely different business. It’s no wonder folks get frustrated trying to chase others when they are on the outside looking in: They’re chasing the outward results someone else is achieving but don’t understand the underlying strategy or positioning. Based on my own realization of this and frustrations over it, this is my attempt to document some of these different approaches to the business of freelancing, all with quite different positioning.

Learn How To Double Your Freelancing Rate

Brennan Dunn produced a nifty looking technical freelancing course, hosted by Skillshare. Here’s how, in part, he describes the course: “As a freelancer, it’s easy to be overcome by fear and make sacrifices — by accepting lower rates or poor quality clients — in order to keep us moving forward. Rarely do we step back and work on our business, rather than in our business. If your effective rate is NOT $200 an hour, or $8,000 a week, you should join this class.” The class is $20. Read the full course outline and reviews left by others who have already taken the online course.

That’s it for last month. Enjoy the rest of your week. Don’t forget to subscribe to the email list or RSS feed. Oh, and learn from my mistake. 🙂

P.S. I may have missed something that you think deserves consideration and that your peers might appreciate as well. Shoot me a email or hit me on Twitter (@jtr) if so. -Josh