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Thread: Consultant startup

  1. #1
    Cyburbian DrumLineKid's avatar
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    Consultant startup

    I have been a non-Planner for +/- 19 months now. I think I am back (after a bad car crash, thats another thread) to where I need to be but am only doing part time in an Assessors Office.

    I talked with me former co-worker/compatriot this afternoon and she may be facing the same choice I faced a few years ago, stay or go (maybe thats what happens to old Planners). She and her husband have talked about a new company doing some really cool "green" things. She has a Masters (not in Planning, but close), he has an even higher degree, I am a lowly BS but do have an AICP. Sounds like there's some potential there and we all tolerate each other.

    I am not a complete novice, and can pick it up quickly. She has done ED for a while now, including advising on/reviewing business plans and such. Problem is, they are like 300+ miles away.

    Is there any advice from among this august body on creating a firm? and long distance business relationships?
    "There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present and invoke the security of a comfortable past which, in fact, never existed." RFK

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Two things strike me...

    1. The idea is the easy part. The hard part is getting paying clients. I wouldn't even *think* of hanging out my own shingle until I had 6 months of work lined up.

    2. Tolerating your business partners is a *bad* way to start. You will, after all, be trusting them with your future.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    In response to bdaleray: how are you supposed to line up 6 months of work without "hanging out your own shingle"?? You need to file for a DBA and get insurance to be considered for most consulting engagements. That doesn't mean you need to rent an office, but you need to formally establish yourself as a business in order to be taken seriously.

    DrumLineKid, I work in partnership with other consultants on most of my projects now. Distance isn't really an issue as long as you have a good working relationship and trust each other (strengthened by a contractual agreement). Telephone and high speed Internet service have greatly facilitated my partnership with a Florida-based firm. We only meet in person when we're visiting or meeting with a client, but it works well for us, as we have complementary skills.

    Feel free to PM me if you have questions...

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Distance should not be a problem.

    I had my own firm for just under two years. I left my job sooner than expected, but had started to advertise and build up a network of potential clients three months earlier. I chose to begin with mailings to another state, far enough away that my employer was not likely to find out. I had one client when I started. Even so, it was very difficult getting more. I probably got one for every 20 proposals I would send. By comparison, I get one for every five now. Many potential clients felt they needed my services but did not have the funding. With others, I was going up against the big firm with decades of corporate experience.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Mud Princess View post
    In response to bdaleray: how are you supposed to line up 6 months of work without "hanging out your own shingle"?? You need to file for a DBA and get insurance to be considered for most consulting engagements. That doesn't mean you need to rent an office, but you need to formally establish yourself as a business in order to be taken seriously.
    <snip>
    I'd do it the old-fashioned way: I'd steal them.

    Most of the consultant start-ups seems to work this way. You work for someone else for a while, build up a network of clients, then approach them about working with you if you hang out your own shingle. I've even heard of clients approaching someone about going out on their own.

    No, it doesn't help the OP much. He's in between a rock and a hard place, but without significant experience and contacts in the community I don't see hanging out his own shingle as making things much better.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by bdaleray View post
    I'd do it the old-fashioned way: I'd steal them.

    Most of the consultant start-ups seems to work this way. You work for someone else for a while, build up a network of clients, then approach them about working with you if you hang out your own shingle. I've even heard of clients approaching someone about going out on their own.

    No, it doesn't help the OP much. He's in between a rock and a hard place, but without significant experience and contacts in the community I don't see hanging out his own shingle as making things much better.
    SHAME ON YOU. We never "steal" clients. We pluck the unsatisfied from the incompetent. [b]Mud Princess{/b] has some good words.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian DrumLineKid's avatar
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    I think I have good connections in both places. I know the presidents of both Chapters well. I am known in both regoins. The HUD Area Office from 'whence I came' knows me. (I have been reading Revolutionary War histories, sorry) Our skills really compliment each other. I consider these two to be the closest friends I have (that I'm not married to, dear). I trust them inherently.

    The kicker to all of this is that I am now on disability and have an income I could rely on for the (very) short term but the nearest commercial air port is like 1:15 away and the Kids Mom doesn't like the idea of me having a drivers license again right away. It's "...too soon after the crash..." She has convinced the doctor I still can't see straight. So getting back and forth is a real issue, possibly insurmountable.

    Thanks to all of you that offered ideas and opinions.

    DLK out
    "There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present and invoke the security of a comfortable past which, in fact, never existed." RFK

  8. #8
    Cyburbian DrumLineKid's avatar
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    Decision

    The thread is basically moot now. I got a call back a from an interview I had a few weeks ago and the said I had the job. The idea of starting my own business with all of my reserves gone scared the ... out of me. I should be real excited but I feel only trepidation.

    The position pays less than half what I was making before the crash, it isn't a Planning job (but close) and I can't get a straight answer from my disability insurance provider. I hope I can rely on them, at least for a bit but I can't pay my mortgage without it. There are so many more unknowns than typical. If it was a new position I could jump into it and rely on my own best abilities, but for this there are so many others that can influence my income/life that good/hard work doesn't solve. In fact, it likely hurts. On the good side, my cane and worthless arm didn't scare them away!

    I haven't even told my parents or my best friend yet.




    DLK in a quandry
    "There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present and invoke the security of a comfortable past which, in fact, never existed." RFK

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