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Between 2005 and 2011, IMC published Daily Tips every weekday on consulting ethics, marketing, service delivery and practice management. You may search more than 800 tips on this website using keywords in "Search all posts" or clicking on a tag in the Top Tags list to return all tips with that specific tag. Comment on individual tips (members and registered guests) or use the Contact Us form above to contact Mark Haas CMC, FIMC, Daily Tips author/editor. Daily Tips are being compiled into several volumes and will be available through IMC USA and Mark Haas.


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Top tags: client relations  communication  customer understanding  your consulting practice  marketing  consultant role  learning  client service  reputation  goodwill  consulting process  market research  practice management  sales  ethics  planning  client development  engagement management  innovation  proposals  professional development  professionalism  knowledge assets  prospect  trends  presentations  recommendations  consulting colleagues  intellectual property  product development 

#691: Your Attitude is A Powerful Resource

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, November 7, 2011
Updated: Monday, November 7, 2011
Balancing a consulting lifestyle can be complex, between personal interests and doing triage for client services, marketing, research, writing, networking and more. How do I keep from getting overwhelmed by these demands?

Things happen, to be sure, but you have a lot of control over the circumstances in which you find yourself. You also have a lot of control over how you see the world. Bad days are inevitable; bad attitudes are optional.

Think of people you associate with. Some can find something positive to say about any situation. A lost client is an opportunity to hone the sales pitch. A project that gets off track is a chance to work on project management skills. You leave a conversation with them feeling invigorated and positive.

Then there are people who can find something negative to say about any situation, even a neutral one. The new engagement will make them too busy to take a vacation. The researcher they hired doesn't have any useful skills.You leave a conversation with these toxic people feeling drained and dreading the next encounter.

Consultants, by nature, look for flaws and, consequently, improvement opportunities in every situation. We are trained to see the downside of people and processes, but that doesn't mean we have to carry that perception over into our dealing with our colleagues. Even when you think you are being "honest" or "helpful," doing so does not help.

Tip: Commit to leave every conversation with people feeling better than when you found them, whether family, client or colleague. This applies to you and the other person or persons. Find something positive to comment on, work on or look forward to. Everyone wins.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  assumptions  consulting colleagues  consulting lifestyle  professionalism  work-life balance 

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#628: Finding the Right Size Consulting Firm

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, August 10, 2011
For many years I have been a partner at a highly regarded consulting firm but have been considering going out on my own. I was also recently offered a position at a boutique firm. Given the current market, what factors should I consider?

Because you are making a choice that could affect you for many years, the factors to consider do not change that much with year to year market circumstances. There are benefits of large and small or solo practices, although the distinctions are disappearing.

With the economic downturns in consulting in 2002 and 2009, many large firms cut back hiring and, among several, partners left to start their own firms. The rise of boutique firms in this decade, and the realization among clients that marquee names do not always equate to top performance, have opened the consulting market to smaller and smaller firms. Clients are looking for the best talent on the consulting team and are less concerned about the company they work for.

Large firms have more resources, can field larger teams, have internal knowledge resources and tested processes, are more likely to work for recognized logo clients, and can (or at least used to) provide more career stability. Smaller firms have more flexibility, greater discretion in selecting clients (they are less compelled than large firms by firm economics to grow year over year), and can assemble consulting teams with more flexibility and speed. Many smaller firms and solo practitioners staffed by large firm refugees (many of whom took their clients with them when they left) and successfully compete against established large firms. The sophistication and visibility of the work, assuming your skills and marketing are done effectively, are less distinguishable as a function of firm size.

Tip: More than ever, the choice of firm size is about lifestyle and risk. If you are looking for flexibility, a chance to put your own mark on your practice, and are willing to tolerate some risk, a smaller or solo practice is attractive. If you are looking for the largest engagements or prefer large teams, prefer or need knowledge assets developed by larger firms, and prefer the more institutional lifestyle, then a larger firm is where you need to be. No decision is forever, so if you want to try a boutique firm and you don't like it, you can always switch.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  career  consulting lifestyle  work-life balance  your consulting practice 

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#491: Consultants Still Server Clients Regardless of Team Size

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, January 31, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Some people have described being a consultant as a "lonely" profession due to the independent nature of the work,. Even if you work for a large consulting firm, you may still be one-on-one with a client or working with only a small team.

Consultants are brought in to help an organization. We sometimes work solo, but more often than not we become part of a team. As such it behooves us to learn more about effectively working in a team environment. A number of skills are required, such as effective listening, facilitation, persuasion, group problem-solving, consensus-building, communication, etc. With some focus and effort, these skills can be developed and sharpened.

Tip: To be truly effective we must master the principles of teamwork and leadership. Both are roles we assume at different times and with different clients and projects. Check out The Team Handbook by Scholtes, Joiner, Streibel et. al. for more information on working in teams.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  client service  collaboration  consulting lifestyle  consulting process  engagement management  your consulting practice 

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#488: How to Approach Slowing Down

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, February 1, 2011
I am not quite ready to retire, but I'd certainly like to slow up and take more time off for other activities. I am finding this difficult - my clients need me at unpredictable times and I continue to be always on the go. Do you have any suggestions for slowing up without retiring?

Effectively setting expectations with your clients is critical in achieving this. Here are two suggestions:
  1. Determine specifically what you want your new slower lifestyle to look like. Are you looking to take summers off? Specific days off? Do you want to scale back to working half days? After you have determined what your new work arrangements will look like, focus on communicating it to your clients. Make your new work schedule a "known" with new clients. Sit down with your existing clients and let them know of your plans, when they will be implemented and the expected impact on them, if any (reduced fee, etc.).
  2. Consider bringing in assistance in the form of a junior or senior associate. You might even be able to farm out some of the work to other trusted colleagues. Although this might represent a significant change in your basic business model (and will almost certainly introduce some new financial and business complexities), it might well provide you with the elusive answer you have been seeking to reduce your workload without permanently eroding your existing client base.

Tip: Consciously slowing down can be challenging and should be carefully executed. Have a plan and a timetable. Communicate your plans clearly to your clients and prospects.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consulting lifestyle  work-life balance  your consulting practice 

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#420: Set a Logical Limit on Hours Billed

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, October 22, 2010
Updated: Friday, October 22, 2010
I find myself busier than ever. Combining billable work, marketing, research, and keeping up with the profession is taking more time than I want to give. Where is the best place to cut back?

Regrettably, long hours are seen by some as evidence of productivity. But in people providing professional services, such as consultants and lawyers, it is the effectiveness of individual hours that determines how effective we are. Are you really effectively serving your clients if you bill 2,000 hours and do no research or learn no new skills? If we can encourage our clients to streamline processes and do more with less, then we should be able to do the same with ourselves.

Think about the amount of time you would like to spend in various activities. Be sure to include working on your business, personal time, sleep, education, research, billable activities, marketing, activities with your professional association(s), and exercise. How much of each is not enough - or too much? Create a plan for how you will reach your activity time targets.

Tip: Every month, step back and evaluate where you spent your time. Graphically display the ten categories of activity that consume the most of your time. Compare them to the amount of time you think you need to be most effective. Each month, commit to getting at least one of these categories that have drifted away from your plan back in alignment.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consulting lifestyle  practice management  work-life balance 

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