[nycbug-talk] Getting started in Consulting

Isaac Levy ike
Fri Jun 3 20:21:57 EDT 2005

Hey Rod,  All,

Great thread here- I'm afraid I'll just be echoing others' comments, 
but I'll chime in too here-

On Jun 3, 2005, at 4:10 PM, swygue wrote:

> I would like some guidance and tips from guys who are consultants in 
> New York City. I would like to start marketing my self, but I don't 
> have a clue on how to start getting clients of my own. So for 
> questions for the veterans.
>  How did you first get started ?

I first got started out of simply having no work.  I'd been part of 
starting a media company during the late 90's that was baby out with 
bathwater, all our clients were dot-coms or online subsidiaries of 
media companies.

Anyhow, I was jobless, and so were all the best people I knew in the 

>  How did you get your first client ?

Out of desperation, I found people who needed my services- and that's 
that.  There's nothing like starving to kick you into finding work.  I 
did little things, lots of loose-ended projects, and relationships were 
formed.  In the earliest days I can't say I didn't get royally screwed 
around here and there, but those were all good learning experiences- 
expect them to happen, (but happen less and less as time moves 

>  Where do you look for clients ?

At this point I don't necessarily look for clients.  I have resumes out 
on Monster, Dice.com, Yahoo Jobs, etc... and periodically get a cold 
call based on usually some obscure stuff I've done- it rarely amounts 
to much, but has landed me a few small projects.

What's really important is trust, and referrals.
I'll echo what others said on the list here- it's all about referral 
when your small- it's very important to keeping focused on actual 
project work.  Do good work, manage client expectations, and in NYC of 
all places, honesty is like crack cocaine to clients- there's usually a 
serious deficit of honesty in the biz.  Dishonest consultants, 
companies, vendors, etc... come and go.
When I say honesty, I mean this- I've actually been REFERRED by clients 
who I flat out told I screwed something up, or clients who I flat out 
told I couldn't do their particular task.

>  How do you sell FreeBSD to clients ?

Heh- when Linux (usually RH) breaks, it's an easy sell :)
Thing is, the BSD's don't give the same griefs (in my particular 
working contexts), so it keeps me focused on doing new and valuable 
stuff with my clients- things to advance their business goals, and my 
creative technical goals- not sitting around debugging RPM's.  For me, 
*BSD is transparent- it doesn't get bought and sold.
(Flames over this comment will be sent to /dev/null, thx.)
I'd do Linux in a big shop with competent people around me, the needs 
and uses are more complicated and sophisticated, but there's no way I'm 
going to do it at the scale of a 1 man shop.

That topikc worth writing a serious paper on when I have the time- (TCO 
of BSD over Linux at smaller scales).  Working at my small scale, Linux 
has repeatedly failed me and my clients, the BSD's have always just 
been there- running solid.

If your clients trust you, they trust what you recommend- that's all 
there is to it.  I run like wild from clients who try to dictate too 
much of my position, (when it's insane), as I find if a client is 
mandating a particular tech. for no reason, they're likely going to be 
a pain which will eventually loose me money- and if they have bad 
experiences, they point fingers at me.

Which brings me to a closing comment in this rant- small, independent 
business, I've found, cannot compete with the big guys on price- 
period.  Web hosting is a business I know, and it's an easy example of 
how commodoty crud takes over like a virus.
As a small business, your greatest asset is that you can easily provide 
better ANYTHING than the larger hosts, due to your awareness of the 
business at that size.  Compromise quality, and try to compete with the 
bigger, cheaper shops- and you'll be eaten alive- I've seen that happen 
way too many times to colleagues over the years.


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