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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 

#517: Sizing Up Your Client

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, March 8, 2011
When starting a new engagement, we often rush to apply our "proven" consulting and analytical processes without considering to what extent the perspectives of our client (or the whole organization) are amenable to such processes.

Recognizing that good results means effective implementation, we tend to think in terms of how our process will be implemented. But we start at a disadvantage if we ignore the client's receptiveness to hearing what we are offering. Each client differs in their ability and attitude to be open to working with a consultant. We would be wise to acknowledge our approach that is so effective with one client may not be so with another.

Consider why these differences might occur. Is your client an analytical type or a "go with the gut" type? Are they approaching change from an offensive (going for potential improvement) or defensive (preventing loss) posture? Are they overwhelmed with day to day details or able to spend time in collaboration? Is their personal life weighing on their ability to focus on company matters? What are the critical factors that could affect how well your consulting services will be received?

Tip: Think back over your consulting engagements over the years and begin to define the types of client you had and how the engagement proceeded. Develop an assessment process to characterize each new client as the engagement starts. Identify what kinds of variations of approach are needed to make sure your service delivery methods are attuned to the attitudes, abilities and personalities of your client. You'll find that attending to who the client manager is will affect your ability to deliver services in a more effective manner.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  consulting process  customer understanding  learning  market research  planning 

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#509: Use Your Slow Times Effectively

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, February 24, 2011
Updated: Thursday, February 24, 2011
Two new clients delayed the kickoff of engagements, so I have some down time. Where is the best use of time - marketing, administration, product development or even taking some time off?

There should never be unplanned "down time" in your practice. Sure, projects sometimes get delayed, but you should have a plan to use that time efficiently and not let it go to waste.

First, your attitude toward time is critical. Consider "found time" as precious. There is never enough time to do all the things we want, whether it is time with family, business, community, sleep or reading. Treat found time like a gift and spend it doing something positive to grow yourself or your business. Avoid consuming it doing "more" of what you are already doing. If you won $1000, would you divide it proportionally among all the things you now spend money on or would you put the whole $1000 toward a special investment or expenditure? Treat time the same way.

Second, always know how you would spend that marginal hour of time. You may already know where your time most effectively puts you on the path to achieving your business and life goals. What would a little more time do for you?

Tip: Make a list of things you could do with a few hours, a day, and a week. Update the list throughout the year as your needs and priorities change. This is a good exercise to keep you focused on balancing your business and personal life. If you have a week and your priority is to spend it all in one place, what does this say about how much time you are spending in other areas of your life?

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  marketing  planning  practice management  your consulting practice 

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#489: Keep an Eye On Managing Your Time

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, January 27, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Although independent consultants often have the benefit of a flexible work schedule, many fail to take advantage of this flexibility.

Here are some suggestions for leveraging the benefits of a flexible work schedule:
  1. If you do not work at home, avoid the wasted time sitting in traffic traveling to your office during morning and evening peak traffic times. Travel to the office before or after "rush hour."
  2. Rearrange your time and days so that you have set aside a block of quiet time for organizing, thinking, planning and writing. This could be early mornings, late evenings, or weekends. Quiet time (or time where you are disconnected from the world temporarily) can be the most productive time for many critical tasks.
  3. Be creative with your scheduling so that you can provide for more than enough time to take care of your health and well-being.
  4. You might even consider adopting a truly alternative work schedule (e.g., 4 day work week, starting a few hours earlier each day Monday through Thursday and then taking Fridays off!)
Tip: Don't be unnecessarily trapped by the pressure of a constraining work schedule if you don't have to. If you maximize your efficiency and get a little creative with your schedule, you might find yourself enjoying your work and life more.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consulting process  efficiency  planning  practice management  your consulting practice 

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#470: The New Year

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, December 31, 2010
Updated: Friday, December 31, 2010
The New Year is upon us, signaling a "clean slate" and the promise of new resolutions for the future. But it also gives us two good reasons to look back.

In your haste to clear the decks and embark on some new goals for the New Year, don't forget to take a little time to consider the past year and note the following:
  1. Think about things that went well for you this past year. Engagements that went smoothly, recognition you received, people who helped you achieve success, etc. Make a note of went particularly well for you over the last 12 months and write these things down. Then, do your best to note the various reasons why these things worked so well. This list should help you to remember to employ the approaches that worked so well for you in the past year for the upcoming year.
  2. Conversely, think about things that did not go well for you this past year. Write these things down as well and note the reasons why these things didn't work out. What did you learn from these miss-steps? This list should help you to avoid making similar mistakes in the upcoming year.
Tip: Look forward optimistically - your future starts now. But don't forget to take a moment to reflect on the past for the tips for achieving (and traps for preventing) success in the future!

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  assessment  learning  planning  your consulting practice 

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#463: Apparently You Don't Need a Business Plan

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, December 22, 2010
My consulting practice is focused on strategic planning and financing for startups and major growth initiatives. Given reluctance to invest except for low risk and high return (I get that), what can make our plans stand out from others?

Pick up fifty management books and you'll find fifty different opinions about what should go into a business plan. Even looking at business plan software packages that have "distilled the best practices in planning" and you'll find they vary considerably. The best advice is to balance two things: what you need to understand the business and what the lender, investor, vendor, partner, or other person who you need for your business to grow.

As far as what you need to understand your business, less is more. Your plan should be clear, concise, and coherent and that could be as little as a page or two. Given the rate of change and volatility in technology, economy and politics, it is unclear of the value of 5 or 10-year projections in mind-numbing detail. If you (or your clients) can't sum it up in a page or two, then you probably don't know your business.

As far as your business partner, lender, etc. is concerned, they don’t want to read a big plan. Would you? If the idea is not compelling, then no plan will induce them to invest. When Samuel L. Jackson was asked to read the script to "Snakes on a Plane,” he refused after only hearing the title, saying something to the effect, "Snakes on a Plane? I don’t even need to read it. Count me in!” That’s your business plan for others.

Tip: Recent research at Babson College showed that business plans are not what they used to be, and . Specifically, planning is useful but plans, especially telephone-book sized ones, are not. Few lenders look at them and few owners ever use them to run their business. Better to spend time making sure the idea sells itself rather than hoping an elaborate plan will.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  planning  presentations  product development 

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