The Nonprofit Consulting Playbook

Steven Shattuck: Thanks for joining us fortoday’s Bloomerang webinar, “The Nonprofit Consulting Playbook.” My name is Steven Shattuck, and I’m the VP of Marketing here at Bloomerang. And I’ll be moderating today’s discussion. And today I’m really excited to introduceour two guests. I’m joined today by two leading nonprofit consultants in thenonprofit sector. Linda Lysakowski and Susan Schaefer are joiningus today. Hey there, ladies. How are you? Susan Schaefer: Terrific. Thanks for having us, Steve. Steven: Yeah, thanks for joining us. I was actually fortunate to have both of these ladies on our first episode of BloomerangTV a couple days ago. We had a really fun chat. And this webinar is more or less a continuationof that chat. And for those of you who don’t know Susanand Linda, Susan is a consultant. She’s a writer. She’s a speaker. She’s got a practical approach to fundraising that has made her a frequent presenterat conferences and classrooms. She’s on the road speaking a lot. She teaches fundraising in the Master’s program of Museum Studies atJohn Hopkins University, which is really cool.In 2001, she founded Resource Partner LLC,which is her consulting firm, where she helps out nonprofitswith ethics, professional development, and fundraising and things likethat. So, it’s definitely a treat to have Susan. It’s also a treat to have Linda. She’s been a webinar guest with us before. If you don’t know Linda, she’s actually oneof less than a hundred professionals worldwide to hold the CFRE designation.In her 20 years as a consultant, she’s managed capital campaigns. She’s helped a lot of nonprofits achieve all of their goals. She’s traveled the world helping development professionals. She’s been to Canada, Mexico, Egypt, Bermuda, and almost all of the 50 states, I hear. It’s definitely a treat to have you both. It’s an honor to have you both, actually. Definitely serious people in the sector, andit’s great that you’re going to be here sharing all your knowledge. So, thanks again, Susan and thanks again, Linda. Susan: Thank you, Steve. And thanks to all of you who are joining ustoday. This is Susan Schaefer. We just want to thank you and really appreciate this opportunity that Bloomerang is givingus, because Linda and I have talked about nonprofit consulting for a fewyears now, and as you probably know, it’s very rare to have forums that discussthis increasingly important part of our sector.As all of you know, nonprofit consulting is becoming a huge piece of fundraising, as wellas technology, human resources, and most other facets of nonprofits. So, the consulting slant becomes increasingly critical to, number one,the soundness of our sector. And number two, there are a lot of us whoare practitioners in the field who are looking to become consultants. And that’s where we’re going to go today a bit.Hopefully, those of you on the line are eithernew consultants or you’re practitioners who are thinking about becomingconsultants. And I think it’s fair to say that all of us in the field havemoments where we think about going to the other side. So, today we’ll explore a little bit of thisand talk about some of the myths and some of thetruths about becoming a consultant. Linda and I started talking about this topic,as I mentioned, a few years ago. And Linda, as you heard, has been consultingfor over 20 years. I have for about 13. And when we started, there was almost nothingavailable that really catered to people in this particularfield of nonprofit consulting. And business consulting is somewhat different. So, we’re going to talk a little bit about what it means to become aconsultant. And we hope that the takeaways for you will be that there are manyways to succeed in this field. And yeah, consulting is not for everyone,so we hope to shed some light on the myths and the realities. And maybe we’ll start with Linda and let you take this little poll to get us started.Linda Lysakowski: Okay. Well, to give us some idea of our audience,as you saw on the screen, Susan and I also coediteda book, which is out – gosh, it’s almost a year already. And our book we found very interesting, because we talked to people throughout the field thatwere years or more. And we felt it would be really great to getthe expert advice to give [inaudible] [00:04:52] who are maybe justthinking about starting out or have been in the field a little bit less thana year.So, we’d like to get an idea of our audiencebefore we get started. I think we have – Steve, just correct me if I’m wrong- we have the ability to ask people to raise their hands or to type intothe chat box. I don’t know which way is the easiest way to do this. Should they type right into the chat box? Steven: Yeah, I think typing would be best. For sure. Linda: Okay, great. So, we’re asking you [inaudible] [00:05:24]more than a year, six months to a year, less than sixmonths, or are you just thinking about it? And I see the chats are starting to come in.We have less than six months, more than a year, more than ayear. Quite a few more than a year. Many years. Less than six months. More than a year. Less than six months. More than a year. More than a year. For the majority of you have been here more than a year – a few of youless than six months – I don’t see anyone at this stage that has answeredthat they’re just thinking about it. But some folks on the line are just thinkingabout consulting and trying to decide if it’s for them or not. So, I’m going to turn it back over to Susan, and with that in mind, thatmost of you are in this field for more than a year, we’ll talk a littlebit from that perspective.Susan, I’m going to turn it back to you. Susan: Terrific. This next slide of ours that talks about whyconsulting, we’ll make sure that we provide a slant thatpertains to those of you who are already in the field. And it’s worth reiterating what Linda said. This book that we put together, we solicited articlesand essays from people who had been consultants and were seasoned consultants. We asked them for their feedback on numerous topics, and what wasterrific and what the book ended up reflecting is that there are so many approachesto consulting and really no one way to approach it.So, we’ll quickly move through this slide,because we have so many current consultants. But as many of you know, the common assumptionsabout consulting do not always hold true. Are there better hours? For those of you who have been consulting less than sixmonths, you’re probably still working out the whole balance of hours, butit really does depend. If you’re full-time, there may be better hoursfor you, but nonprofit jobs certainly can have a lot of hours as staff. And yet, as Linda and I can attest, and we’ve worked on projects togetherthe last two years, Linda’s on the west coast, and she’s often on thephone with me by seven o’clock in the morning, her time. And I’m often on the phone with her at eleven o’clock, East Coast time. So, the idea of better hours is very relative. But as we see in the third item here, thefreedom to set your own schedule certainly does exist. There are consultants we both know who arevery firm in their hours.There’s one I know who literally drops hisphone at five o’clock, will not answer a cellphone callthat is work-related, and I greatly respect the parameters that he placeson his business. That said, there have been some clients who are lesslikely to work with him, because they want to be able to call their consultanta little later at night, a little earlier in the morning. So, really, as many of you know already, this is a business about customer service,and so while you can have the flexibility you might like, there’s also sometimesa bit of a price that you pay. One of the biggest questions about consulting,of course, is “Is there more pay?” It really seems as though there might be.And yet, again, it really depends. It depends because, as we’ll talk about later,there are multitudes of cost that may end up in yourconsulting practice, depending on how you structure it. So, we’ll get to that later. It really also depends on your business model. It’s very difficult to go out and chase business all the time, whichis why so many consultants really go into this field with a desire – andI think Linda was one of those – a desire to serve the smaller nonprofits. And it can become very difficult, because that inherently means thatyou will have shorter contracts, and each contract may not be aslucrative. So, you end up spending a lot more time marketing. If you create a business model where you have at least a few larger clients andlonger-term contracts, it allows you to spend a little more time on the actualconsulting and a little less time marketing.So, depending on how you can structure yourbusiness, the income will vary dramatically. And there’s one other piece that we tend toput in our more advanced consulting webinars. When we talk about the idea of passive incomethese days, and for those of you who have been consultingfor a little while, you know that in the end, your income is verydirectly tied to your time if you bill hourly.And then you get to a point where you mayhave some passive income streams. You may start out doing things like books,or you may have some classes you teach for a fee. A lot of consultants are now conducting webinars. And all of these kinds of things allow youto serve more than one person at a time and to start making additionalmoney. I should, as a footnote, add that books are not really theway to make a lot of money, as Linda and I can attest, but we’ll get to thebenefits of that later. But at any rate, all of these things do give yousome additional financial resources outside of the hours that you set.The ability to work from home is another reasonwhy a lot of people pursue consulting. It gets rid of their commute. Maybe their attire costs lessen a bit. But again, we’ll talk about this some more. It’s really a very personal decision. And many folks who have very successful consulting practices decide to work in or out of thehome, depending on their work style, even aside from the cost. Finally, the variety of work. This is probably the one question up hereI can give a definitive yes to in terms of ananswer. If you’d prefer a variety of work, as I certainly did when Istarted consulting, it certainly is there for you if you’re willing to workat it and make sure that you can expand your horizons.I spent a career fundraising in higher education before consulting and was very excited aboutthe diversity of work that came. I’m at a point now with my consulting where,at the moment, I have no higher education clients. And while I certainly don’t shun them, it’sbeen terrific for me to get into so many otherfields. At any rate, let’s move on to the next piece,and I will turn it over to Linda.Linda: Let me reiterate what Susan said. I think that last item on that last slide, the variety of work, is what promptsa lot of consultants. I know it was one of the things that led meinto consulting. I also worked for higher education. I worked for a museum. And while most of the facilities that I worked for had a real passionfor what they were doing, I really went into consulting because frankly,I get bored very easily. And after setting up a brand new development officeand getting it into shape and the way I wanted it in about two halfand a half years, I thought, “Well, what is left for me to do here?” Certainly some people are really like that,as far working for an organization that they can continue to workwith, but others really like the variety. So, I think when you talk about the questionof “Are you cut out to be a consultant,” a lot of it dependson your personality type. But if you are someone like me, who finds themselvesgetting bored pretty easily, you might say, “Gosh, consulting isso much better because I get to work with a variety of people.” In the 20 plus years I’ve been in consulting,I have worked with higher education, with private schools.I’ve worked with arts groups, I’ve worked with environmental groups. I’ve worked mostly with human service agencies. And I have never had workingas a staff person in a human service agency. So, to me, that’s been really rewarding, becauseI feel like I’m part of so many people’s different really, really and some things that you haveto think about. Some of you, like myself and probably mostsuccessful consultants, really like being independent. But I’ve worked with consultants who reallydon’t do well in that atmosphere, because they likethe teamwork that’s associated employment-wise. They like going to work every day and working with a team of six or seven or 10 or 50 people. I know I have one consultant that worked forme, and she started out consulting on her own.And she said, “I just don’t like being onmy own. I like the teamwork, I like the camaraderieof having a group of people.” So, she approached me to come to work for me. But what I found in that experience is, while she was a good consultant,sometimes I felt she was just too dependent on me, and she wasn’t independentenough to work with clients on her own.So, you might feel, gosh, you like the ideaof bouncing things back and forth with other members ofyour team. And maybe being an independent consultant isn’t for you. However, that does open up the possibility of going to work for a largerconsulting firm. So, it doesn’t mean you can’t be a consultant at all. It just means that you have to maybe think about whether you really want to beworking alone.Income is something Susan raised. And I think one of the things that people will often think is, “Well, gosh, these consultantsare getting $2,000 a day, and that’s really great, because I don’tearn that much as a staff person.” But they don’t think about several things. One of them is all the expenses that a consultant has that comesout of that $2,000 a day. But they also don’t think about the paychecksthat are .And not only the paychecks, but the benefits. And now I’m fortunately at an age where I’m qualified for Medicare, so I don’thave to worry so much about benefits. But before I was at that stage when I wasconsulting, I was paying a lot of money in health insurancebenefits for myself. And if you have employees, you have to pay that for themtoo. So, some people don’t that stablepaycheck, especially if you’re the sole income earner in your familyor if you’re really relying on a second paycheck. The thing about consulting that you have toface is that there always seems to be those fluctuationsof periods of really great times when you’re doing really well, and you’vegot three or four major, big clients, and the income is just rollingin, and you think, “This is great.” But then you have the dry desert periods too,where maybe nothing’s coming in for a couple of months.So, that’s something to think about with your personality. You’ve also got to think about whether youlike multitasking. And even though in the job you certainly do a lot ofmultitasking if you’ve been a director of development… And I do see we have at least one person who’s just thinking about consulting. So, if you’re in a position where you’re a director of development, or you’ve been inthat position, yes, you had to multitask the events and the grants and themajor gifts and the planned giving and everything else, but with consulting,you’re not only doing different tasks, but you’re doing them fordifferent people.Especially if you’re a grant writing consultant, for example,you might have to juggle “All these clients have grants due at theend of this month, and how am I going to get them all done?” So, you have to think about whether you’re good at multitasking. And I find some people are great at it. Others are not so good at it. You also have to think about whether you reallyenjoy focusing on that one mission, or do you like the variety of differentclients. committed to one thing.And you can certainly control that by saying, “Okay. I’m really into the environment and preservingthe environment, and I loved working for the Sierra Club or whoeverI worked for before.” So, if you want to commit to something, you can decideto focus just on environmental agencies or just on the artsor just on higher education, but what you’ll probably find is, after a while,you’re going to exhaust all the clients in your geographic area. And then you have to think about “Okay, am I ready to spend most my life ona plane, and travel all over the country and maybe beyond?” So, that’s another thought to think about. We talked about schedule predictability. Again, in the development position, we all know it’s not a nine-to-fivejob, but we pretty much know what our hours are going to be from week toweek, where in consulting, I can tell you, honestly, I don’t know manyconsultants that are like Susan’s friend who doesn’t answer his phone afterfive o’clock.I did know one consultant who said he took off every Friday,and I thought what a great life that would be. But most of the consultants I know, in allhonesty, are probably working 60 to 80 hours a week. So, even though you have long hours, whatyou do have is flexibility. And I find that even though I work many hours andmost weekends, on Monday, for example, I had a friend in town, and we decidedto pick her up at her hotel and drive out to Red Rock Canyon and picnicand go out for dinner. So, we had a great experience, and I could not dothat if I was working in a full- time job.So, I think your personality has a lot todo with whether or not you’re going to be successful as a consultant. It also has kind of has a lot to say about what kind of consultant you willbe. Some people – I would never be happy doing this – but some people arevery happy doing a single focus. They only want to do, for example, grantsmanagement or foundation relations or capital campaigns. Some people are more full service. They want to do a broad range of grant services. Or they want to do capital campaigns, but they also like doing developmentaudits and other things, maybe board development or just general fundraising.So, those are decisions that you have to make. And then you have to talk about what typeof a business model do you want. And we’re going to talk about that a littlebit more in a few minutes, as to how you structure your business. But sometimes we have people who never want to have anyone else involved. They just want to be a single sole proprietor or a single shop person. And others like working for a large firm. So, there are decisions like that that youhave to make. And then you have to think about do you likebeing a single focus? Do you like working only in the arts or human serviceor education? Do you like working with large, medium, or smaller organizations? I’ve worked with probably all sizes. I really enjoy working with the smaller organizations, but they do present more challenges to a lotof people.But some groups, some consultants might say they only wantto work with large institutions, and that’s fine. Again, it’s knowing your personality and whatyou’re comfortable with and where your expertiseis. If you’ve never worked for a large organization, you might be much morecomfortable working with smaller groups. And then client geography is a huge one. I notice we do have a question in here already from someone that is based inCanada and wants to know what the sectors in the US market are that presentthe largest opportunities. And it’s kind of hard to say, because I thinkwe have so many more nonprofits in the United States than theyhave in Canada, just based on the population of our country. But some of the things that you have to think about if you want to spread out local, national,or international are some of the things like state registration. And we’re going to cover some of those things, I think, a little bit latertoo, but those are some things that you really have to think about when you’retrying to expand your geographical scope.How much time do you want to spend on an airplane? I remember several years ago, I spent seven days in a row on an airplane,and I said, “Even flight attendants get a day off. What am I doing on a plane seven days in arow?” And I’ve now cut back my travel schedule tremendously,because I’m now a caregiver for my husband, who has a medicalcondition that requires a lot of help, so I’ve definitely changed. And there’s no reason to say that you can’tchange any of these things as you go along.You might decide to go from full service tobeing single- focused. Or you might decide to go from a small proprietorinto being an LLC. Or you might decide to go from focusing strictlyon the arts to focusing on all types of organizations orvice versa. There’s nothing that says once you’ve locked into this, you can’treinvent yourself. And we have a lot of really interesting stories in ourbook from consultants who have reinvented themselves. So, just because you’ve decided to be onekind of consultant doesn’t mean you have to stickto that. Same thing with our next topic, which Susan is going to talk about,and that is where you want to work. That changes sometimes too. Susan, it’s all yours. Susan: It does. And we won’t spend too much time on this,since a lot of you are already in the trenches, so to speak. I do want to go back quickly to one thing Linda mentioned about multitaskingand just reiterate, particularly for those of you who have beenconsulting for a little while, that the multitasking includes a lot of administrativetasks that people don’t always give a lot of consideration tobefore they start consulting – things like the marketing and the bookkeepingand just general administrative tasks that deal with taxesand the rest of it.So, it is really important to think about these things. These days, there are lots of resources ifyou are not interested in doing some of these pieces. I’ve got someone who designed my website,for instance, who I pay a very minimal fee eachmonth to maintain my website in different ways, whether it’s upgrades or justupdates of some latest things that I’m working on. But I know consultants who outsource theirbookkeeping or administration or keeping their calendaror whatever it is. But particularly if you do want to travel anddo some of the things Linda was talking about, your time in the office thendecreases and it gives you more reason, possibly, to outsource some of themulti-faceted, multi-tasking pieces of your work.So, consider that if you’ve been in businessfor a little while and are feeling overwhelmed bythe many different pieces to consulting. Where do you want to work? Some people, this comes very naturally. They think at the beginning, “I don’t have muchof a budget. I need to work from home.” But I think the big takeaway with this oneis really go with your gut. And as Linda just mentioned so well, you shouldnot be afraid to change case as the years or months, even,go by. There are many consultants that we each know who have gone back and forth,because they realized that one environment seemed right and then wasn’t. And one piece that we list here under a so-calledreal office is prestige.And depending on your client base, it canbe important for you to have, if not a real office, a real office address,which we get to at the bottom of this slide under “Virtual Office.” There are some national organizations, be they universities or just national charitableorganizations that really do tend to hire larger firms. And it’s one thing for them to hire someone who’s a full proprietor, but they really might,whether it’s subconscious or not, they might think twice about hiringsomeone who works from home, mostly because, while things have changeddramatically, there is still some stigma to a type of business that’s run outof someone’s home. On the plus side, they might tend to assume that thattype of consultant charges a lower fee, so you could build that in as abenefit.But as one example, I did some work earlyin my consulting career for a client that was affiliated with the WorldBank, so these are very corporate type nonprofits. And without my ever saying that I worked fromhome, this client just made the assumption that I workedin a high-rise glass building in downtown Washington DC. I didn’t even get a chance to tell him otherwise until we were a little further into the engagement,but those assumptions can be very real.You might want to think about the types ofclients you want and make sure, at least, that you havea virtual address, if not a real office address. There are many folks who work in offices wherethey just get a room in a larger organization,and that allows them to share the kinds of ideas that Linda was talking about,if you are more team-oriented. And finally, one other piece I want to addto this is that here are some middle grounds in these offices now, particularlyif you’re in a larger city. You can often get almost a part-time officewhere you get a real address and you get a receptionist, and youcan have an office or a conference room when you need it. And that is beginning to serve as a happy medium for folks who like the flexibilityof working outside of their house, but can’t find a good arrangement tohave a full-time office.So, there’s really a range of options, and a lotmore goes into it sometimes than people would think. So, now we’re going to get back to the subjectof how to structure your company. And I’ll let Linda take that one. Linda: Before I go into that, I do want toadd one thing to what Susan said about the advantages of working at home orworking in a real office. I just had an experience a few months ago where Icontacted one of my local universities, because I thought I wanted tohire an intern to come and help me with some social media and some thingsthat I just didn’t find the time to do. And I found out that the universities willnot allow interns to go into someone’s home office.So, that was kind of an eye opener for me. And I thought, “Well, even though I could maybehave this person do work remotely from their own site.” They said, “No, you have to have an office to have a virtual assistant or an intern.” So, that’s something that you might want to think about, that you can’tget an intern if you’re in your home office. Before we talk about structuring your company,I want to tell you that we are not lawyers. We are not accountants. We are not financial advisors. So we would absolutely suggest that you contactyour legal counsel to decide what is the appropriate structure for yourcompany. But Susan asked me to talk about this slide, because I’ve done everyone of these except the first one, sole proprietorship.So, I can tell you, if not from a legal perspective, but from an individual, personalperspective what I’ve found are the advantages of these, except I havenot been a sole proprietor. Most people do not opt for the sole proprietorbecause of the liability issues that are involved. So, most people today are probably optingfor LLCs. When I started my business, I was a subchapterS corporation, because actually, I started my business before LLCsexisted in the state I was incorporated in. So, the subchapter S corporation gave me somebenefits of protecting my own personal assets from anyliability, which at that time, it was either you’re a corporation, a partnership,or a sole proprietorship. So that’s why I opted for the subchapter Scorporation. I just got done filing my income taxes, andstill the subchapter S is open, although it’s pretty much phased down. But I can tell you it cost me more to file taxes for an inactive company thanto file my taxes for the LLC, because I opted to have the LLC income putonto my personal income tax.But it still protects me from some liability. I also had a partnership for a while, andthe partnership arrangement can be really good, or it can be a nightmare,I think. My experience with partnerships, or the good side of it was Ihad a partner who had strengths that I did not have, and then I had strengthsthat she didn’t have, so we had a good partnership arrangement for thatreason. We also happened to be in two different states at the time. I was in Pennsylvania, and she was in Ohio. And it’s probably a good thing it was, becauseour work styles were totally opposite. We probably would never have lasted more thana week in the same office. So, I think if you’re going to do a partnership,make sure that you have built some kind of collaboration with thisperson before you go into partnership, because you have to agree oncommon goals. You have to agree on marketing styles. There’s a lot of thing that partners reallyneed to agree on. And if you don’t agree on those things, you’llprobably find yourself at odds, and maybe the partnershipwill dissolve, because mine did.And mine dissolved, not because we couldn’tget along with each other, but because we had different goals for thecompany. In fact, when we started the company, we talkedabout this, and my partner was about 10 years younger than I am. And she said, “But, you know, I’ll probably be at a stage where I’m wanting togrow this business, and you’re wanting to cut back.” And the exact opposite happened. I was ready to grow the business, and she was ready to cut back. So, sometimes, even though you talk these things out in advance, things docome up and maybe a partnership doesn’t merge. It didn’t take a lot of effort to dissolvethe partnership, but there were some issues that we neededto deal with. So, I think if you’re going to consider a partnership, makesure you know the person that you’re going into partnership with prettywell, and that you really feel like you can build a good working relationship. So, that’s what I have to say about that. I do want to talk a little bit about somelegal issues.And again, we’re not attorneys, and we can’t give you legaladvice. But some things that I really wanted to point out, and particularly,I think Lydia asked what are some of the issues facing the charitable sector. And this doesn’t exactly address that question, but it’s issues thatface consultants. In the United States, we have 50 states thatabout 46 of them, I think, now have some type of state registration. And this is going to be important for you to make decisions about where you wantto work, because if you’re going to work nationally or even internationally,you need to be aware of those state registrations. You also need to know about the expense that’s involved. And it’s a lot of work just completing allof those forms. I currently am only registered in a few states,because I’m not doing that much consulting out of state anymore, butat some points in my time, I’ve been registered in like 10 different states.And the prices range from anywhere from usually $250 to $800 to registerin each state, so you need to be aware of that. And you do need to register in states whereveryour client is based. So, if you have a client in Washington DC- Susan can probably add more to this – they not onlyrequire registration, but you have to have a business license in the cityof Washington DC.So, there are a lot of things that you haveto be concerned about. There are companies that can help you navigate throughthis, though. They help nonprofits who fundraise nationally, and theycan get involved in that. You also need to be aware of some of the IRSregulations that determine whether someone’s a contractor or an employee. And you need to know this for two reasons. First of all, you might have some clientsapproach you that say, “Well, we’re going to hire you asan independent contractor.” And there really is no such thing.The IRS has very clear guidelines about that. You’re either independent, or you’re an employee. You don’t just go into an office and get an office and businesscard and work in that office every day and have a supervisor, and at thesame time say you’re an independent contractor. So, you’re either an employee or you’re anoutside vendor or contractor or however you want tolook at it.You also need to be aware of those regulationsfor your own staffing. If you’re going to hire people as independentcontractors, most likely, you’re going to be paying unemployment insuranceon those people, even though they’re not employees of yours. So, those are things that you need to be aware of. What kind of tax laws, what kind of liabilityissues are there, especially when you start hiring staff peoplewithin your organization. So, those are some things you need to look into,things like liability insurance and things like that.Somebody posted a question: “How do you findout if you need to register?” And I’m going to answer that question rightnow, because it’s appropriate. And actually, in our book, one of the authorsof one of the sections of our book runs an organization that does help nonprofitsand consultants register. And we actually have a whole chart in theback of the book that has the state contacts that you have to maketo find out if you need to register. And every state has seemingly different laws,so you need to look into that.But you can do all this research yourselfon the internet if you have the time, but if you buy the book, it’sright in there so you can find it there. So, I’m going to turn it over to Susan totalk about marketing, because I know this is something that a lot of you areinterested in, and we want to make sure we get this in before we run outof time. Susan: Thanks. And it’s probably easily said that we couldspend the full hour just on marketing. So, we’re going to really hone in on the topics that I think matter the most. And as you can see, just in a brainstorm we listed quite a few avenues for marketing yourconsulting business.I think as with most things in life these days, anyone of these can become overwhelming. And in my experience and many others who I’vespoken with about this subject, it’s really terrific ifyou can figure out one or two vehicles for marketing your business thatreally suit you and your personality and your business goals. So, it goes without saying that a websitedoes seem like the standard these days for a consulting company, but I haveto say that I know plenty of consultants who do not have a website. I probably went my first five years or so as a consultant without a website, andI was busy all the time. To be honest, that’s one of the reasons I did notcreate a website, because I was too busy consulting to do it, so I thought. When I did create a website, the most immediate benefit was that peoplestopped calling me to ask me to do things that were not among my service offerings.So, I did save a lot of time with those calls that were not goingto be fruitful. That said, you can go either way. But many groups, and particularly if you,again, want some larger, national clients, do expect awebsite. I’ll skip to social media, because it’s somethingthat is, I think, a constant conversation amongst consultantsthese days, particularly one- person shops. Should you do it? Should you not? I really think it’s dependent on the type of clients that youwould like. There are a few consultants I know who spend a lot of timeon social media. They blog. They’re on twitter. They do Facebook, all the rest, and pour alot of time into it. And it is successful for them. It’s most beneficial for those people who are really looking for clientsnationally.They’re looking to be thought leaders and looking to create a following. And they often have ancillary products that they’re looking tosell because of that national audience and the numbers that they’re garnering. For me, someone who decided after going throughmany of the phases of traveling and taking on clients in many states,I decided that between the registration, the travel, and all the rest,I was really happy working in a more regional market. So, now, I mostly work in the Washington DCarea. And because of that, I’ve decided that doing awhole lot of social media really doesn’t benefit my company, because I’m lookingto get in touch with people on a regional level rather than national. So, again, consider your priorities as you think about that.Regardless, professional associations havereally been able to propel a lot of consultants’ careers if they choose theright one. I know plenty of consultants who are involved either in AFPor GPA, the Grant Professionals Association, or many of the other nonprofit-orientedgroups. And these consultants pour many, many hours into thesegroups, and it’s got huge benefit for their firms. Something that comes as a surprise to manynewer clients is that some of your best sourcesof referrals will be other consultants. So, getting into these situations and gettingknown by many of the others who do what you do can really resultin a lot of great referrals. Networking is obviously terrific. And again, I highly recommend trying to find local or national networks of consultants. There is one national network – well, two national networks of consultantsif you’re not familiar with them.One is called the Giving Institute, whichtends to have some of the larger firms nationally involved. And then there’s one called APC, the Association of Philanthropic Counsel, whichhas many sized organizations, but it does tend to be focus more on one ortwo-person shops. So, those are great places to learn about your craft andnetwork with some terrific consultants. I’ll say also that advertising, for most consultantsI know, is not always a terrifically great investment. Maybe there are some sources locally, but I’d say about 90% of the consultants I knowhave tried it and then decided to move on to something else. So, you may found a particularly great venue, but for the most part, I think these otheravenues tend to work better. And finally, speaking and writing can be terrific,particularly if you’re a very good speaker or a very good writer.That may seem obvious, but you’re only going to command potential clients aftera speaking session if you were terrific. So, again, it’s really worth prioritizingand doing a personal assessment of your strengths. And why waste your time traveling around the country and doing speaking justto do it? Really do it if you feel that you’ve given it a try in some localvenues, and you get a crowd at the end and people want to hear more andknow more. So, I think there’s something here for everyone,but don’t try to do them all, because you need to leave time for yourconsulting. With that, we’ll talk a little bit about fee-setting. Linda: Okay. I’ve been answering some of the questionsjust because they’re appropriate to the slides.Let me see. We did have one question about recommending time and billing software. I use QuickBooks for all of my financial stuff including bulling and invoicing. However, I can’t give you much advice on time tracking, because I havenever billed on an hourly basis. But this is something that you need to thinkabout is how do you base your fees. Some consultants I think do charge on an hourlybasis. Particularly if they do a lot of grant writing,I believe. They are much more prone to do hourly or daily. Many people have a daily rate. I personally do mine all on a project-basedtime, because I feel like I know what needs to be accomplished. And frankly, in most cases, you’re not really being paid for your time. I think this is one of the biggest hurdles that consultants need to think about is it’sdifferent from being an employee, because you’re not paid by how manyhours you put in.You’re paid by the results that the client sees at theend of working with you. So, I prefer always doing everything on a project-basedfee, and I think for many consultants, that seems to work better. But however you’re going to charge, I thinkthe thing that’s important is you have to think about things like what arethe expenses that you have to involve.A lot of times, people have said, “A goodrule of thumb is the rule of thirds.” If you’re paying someone to do this job, orif you’re paying yourself to do this job, let’s sayyou’re paying someone $100 an hour. Then you should be charging the client $300an hour, because one third of that is a salary that you’re payingout. One third of that is your expenses. One third of that is the profit.But you have to think about things like what personal expenses are involvedin running your business, if you’re running an office, if you have topay utilities. I personally run an office from myself, somy company pays myself or actually my husband for a space in my home. And you can do a lot of different variations of that. But if you have to pay for your own healthcare, that’s an expense that you’regoing to need to deal with. Do you have a retirement fund where you’re currentlyworking? Well, if you’re going to set up a retirement fund for yourselfat home with your own business, that’s something that you shouldthink about. What kind of startup costs do you have involved that youhave to think about? Travel expenses – you’re usually billing them mostlyto the client, but you might also have to think about the experience thatyou have and what kind of experience do you have.Can you charge more because you’re more experienced? What’s your competition margin? You also want to look at things like that. And that’s going to be different in everyenvironment. And, frankly, a lot of times when I was workingnational, I might charge more for a client that I’m working with inWashington DC, for example, or the state of California, where prices area little bit higher, than I would charge a client in Nevada for several reasons. That’s what my competition is charging, but also, if you’re going tobe traveling, you have to take into consideration the time that you’re goingto be spending in your car or on a plane.So you have to think about those things aswell. So, there’s a lot to think about when it comesto setting your fees, but as I said, I think try to get out of that factthat “I’m charging X dollars per hour,” because people aren’t paying youfor your time. They’re really paying you for your experience and your expertise. So, I think that’s an important thing to think about when you setfees. I’m going to turn it over to Susan. And then I think we have one or two more slides, and then we’ll go into some questions. Susan: Great. Well, we called this last slide “Survivingand Thriving,” although we also love to think about it asreinventing yourself, because that’s really what this entire consultingcareer ends up being about. And as you can see by the graphic we selected,Gene Wilder’s face there in “Young Frankenstein” has become the mascotfor Linda and I of what it means to consult some days.And it’s not always a pretty picture. But the good news is, whatever it is about your companythat gets to be frustrating or too demanding or just distasteful at somepoint, you have the ability to change. And that’s a little harder if you’re workingfor a firm, but if you’re working for yourself, in particular,there are many different directions to go, and that’s part of whatmakes this such an exciting career.First, we’ve talked about this in many differentlights today, but being flexible is just terrific. And it’s really worth just constantly monitoring your own changing needs and preferences andinterests. And make sure that you’re always doing what you’re good at andwhat you love to do, because it really does come through to your clients. You don’t want to take on jobs just because a client comes to you. And it’s a dangerous way to consult actually. For instance, there’s a consultant who wrotefor our book who talks about the fact that her core business was strategicplanning for years, and she loved it until she didn’t love it anymore. And suddenly, her business became a source of real frustration for her.And she one day went to a seminar about social enterprise and lovedit, and took what I think is a very admirable and bold move and decided tojust immerse herself in what had been at the time this new role of socialenterprise. And for several years after she really became self-taughtin that field, she dropped the whole strategic planning element of her companyand went into social enterprise exclusively. And that went on for a few years. She was very successful, because she really had done herhomework. And at the end of her day, she did add strategic planning back toher list of services. So, it just shows that there really are endless optionsif you can give yourself that space to be flexible and create parametersfor yourself that make sense at the time. I think one of the most important pieces forconsultants is for us to continue to have mentors and coaches and evenpeers that we can talk to throughout the years.It’s always a fine line between being theexperts to our clients and knowing that we’re not expertat everything in our own minds. So, whether you’re talking to people aboutthe latest breakthroughs in your discipline area, or just talking toa consultant who’s more senior than you about how it is that they chargefor their travel or how it is that they structure their contracts, thereis just always something new to be learned. So, seek out those folks. I do find this to be a very generous field, so we’re very lucky in that. As we talked about, the idea of adding, eliminating,and changing services is a real option. I will just caution, again, against the ideaof taking on projects that you are not qualified for. There’s always this fine line between taking on something new that you haven’tdone, because you want to push your own box and you may want to gatherskills in something, but do make sure that you are fully educated andtrained or that you have developed a strategic alliance with anotherconsultant before you take on a project that’s new.Because it really only takes one failed projectto ruin the reputation that you have built for yourselffor all the years that you’ve been consulting, and at the end ofthe day, all any of us really has as consultants is our reputation. So, take that seriously, and don’t do whatsome do and just accept jobs because they’re offered to them. As tempting as it can be, be strategic. Bring people on with you. And there are many consultants who partner temporarily on projects so that you can bringin an expert.And that can be something done behind the scenes or somethingmore explicit so that your client knows you’ll be working with someoneelse. Along those lines, you can also learn newskills by becoming an associate, or otherwise known as a subcontractor, tosomeone else in the field. And it’s a terrific way of learning skills. If for instance, you want to grow your business into the capital campaign market,if you’ve never done a campaign before, one thing you can do is workalongside of an experienced campaign consultant. And you might have to charge a little bitless. So, as Linda said, that consultant is making hisor her full fee, but it’s an education for you and real world experienceand working on a campaign that you can later take back and market on yourown. So, a corollary to that, in terms of growingyour business, if there are pieces that start getting tiring for you,you can also subcontract out work on your own.We talked before a bit about having internsand others help you with things like answering the phonesor doing your books, but you can also do that in more substantive areas likewriting or helping put together development plans or even doing some dataentry, whatever you need done. So, it’s a great way to build your businessand not have to hire employees yourself. So, this whole consulting field is reallyas creative as you’d like it to be. So, thanks again for joining us. It’s always terrific to have new quality people enter this field.And if there are any additional questions,Linda and I would be happy to answer them. Steven: Yeah, great. Linda: I see some in the queue that I thinkSusan probably can’t see, but I wanted to comment – actually, some questionsand comments. Les just commented on an RFP that was apparently aschool board hiring what sounds like a grant writer that specifically statedif they did not receive the grant, they expected their money to be returned. And Anne made a great response to that. This is definitely something that you’d want to avoid. I think you also need to be aware of the AFP’s- Association of Fundraising Professionals – codeof ethics and other associations that also have codes of ethics. APC has a code of ethics, and I believe the Giving Institute does as well. But one of the things that is definitely an ethic goal is to work on a contingencybasis. And as I said, we get paid for our expertise, but when youput time into a project, you should be expected to be paid for that.So, I think this is a really good comment. And another point that Anne made that I thoughtis really important is making sure to clarify your payment agreement. Have a written contract. And I know I always ask for a down payment onthat contract to be paid before any work starts, because I think we’ve allbeen in situations where we have been burnt occasionally. And maybe someone said, “Well, I’m not payingit.” And even though your contract has it in, theystill think they shouldn’t have to pay for one reason or another. So, have a written contract with it clearly outlined when payments are due. And I also have a service fee that if payments aren’t made promptly, they pay,I think it’s 1.5% interest. So, I think that’s some great suggestions.There was one question here that I wantedto address to Susan, because I think she’s having trouble seeing some ofthe screen, but somebody was looking for a networking group in the WashingtonDC area. And in addition to the national networking groups, many largercities do have networks of consultants. So, Susan, do you want to answer that questionabout a networking group in Washington? Susan: Sure. There had been one several years ago thatis no longer.For all of you, I’ve set up plenty of informalnetworking groups as the years have gone on with groups that just benefitedme at the time, either people within my specialty or outside of it. To the person who wrote that, there’s a fairly new group that’s just formed. It’s actually come out of discussions that had been around our consultinggroup. It’s through the Association of Fundraising Professionals. We now have a Consultant’s Affinity Group, and it’s been terrific. It’s been going on for close to a year now.And it’s just a group of consultants sittingaround and talking about discipline-specific and business developmentideas. So, I’m happy to give you more information if you want to sendme a note. Linda: I think in that regard, we do havea slide with both of our emails are on there. Actually, it’s an email that you can use totouch base with both of us: And if you’re interested in buying the book, you can contactus through that too, and we’ll happy to answer how you can get thebook. One other comment that I see is Les answeredthat he does ask what the budget for the project is, and I think that’sreally important that you find out not only what the budget is, butwhat the timeline is too. Some people might have a timeline that’s unrealistic.”We need to have this grant written in two weeks” or “We need tohave this campaign done in three months.” You want to stay away from those kinds ofclients. Steve, did I miss any questions? Did you see any come in that we missed answering? Steven: You know, I think you got them all,so thanks for that. And thanks for making it a little more interactive. I know there was some chatter within the chat group as well. That was excellent. That was a lot of fun. Wow, what a great resource this is going tobe. I can already think of three or four people that I’m going to besending this to who are thinking about getting into consulting.So, Linda, Susan, thanks for sharing all your knowledge with us today. I hope everyone listening enjoyed it as much as I did. So, thanks. Susan: Thank you for having us. Steven: It was awesome. And to everyone listening, I will be sendingout a full recording of the whole presentation laterthis afternoon, as well as the slides. So you’ll be receiving those from me a littlelater today. And I just want to quickly highlight an upcomingwebinar we have. We do do a webinar every week, but I thought this groupwould be interested in one that’s happening in late April about capitalcampaigns. So, check out our webinar page. You can see all of our upcoming webinars. Check this one out for sure. You’ll definitely see this webinar hit ourblog later next week.Wow. It’s just about two o’clock, so good job,Susan, good job, Linda, with the timing. That worked out perfectly. Linda: Thank you. And we’ll look forward to possibly comingback again if this is something that you are interestedin. Steven: Oh, definitely. Linda: We’d be happy to come back and maybeget more involved in some of these topics if you want to learn more aboutmarketing or anything else that we’ve talked about. Let us know. Steven: Yeah. You’re both welcome back for sure. And do check out their book. Check out their website, and look Susan andLinda up online. So, with that, I’ll say a final goodbye. Thanks to everyone for joining us for an hour today, and have a great rest of yourweek.Susan: Thanks. Linda: Thank you..


As found on YouTube

Book Now For Environmental Consultingl In Newcastle

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.