The Lighter Side of Sysadm |
Ranting & Raving |
Pete's Back Yard
Our Golden Rules of Consulting
These "golden rules" were developed over the years by Peter and Celeste
Stokely of Stokely Consulting. They were presented at Usenix's SAGE/LISA '95
the "Being a Successful System Administration Consultant or Contractor
BOF" session in September, 1995. If all consultants played by these rules,
Stokely Consulting believes that the world would be a better place to
work and live.
Be the professional's professional.
- First-time customers buy "what you know" Repeat customers buy "who
you are" Be honest about what you can and can not do. Never do or say
anything to your customers that you wouldn't want posted to a newsgroup.
Be fair in all things, including your written contracts.
Know your customers.
- Make sure that what you're offering is what they're willing to pay
good money for. Know what are marketable skills in your area. Speak your
customer's language, don't make them learn yours. Does your customer
want advice or implementation? Is your customer an early adopter of
bleeding-edge technology or trying to maintain legacy systems? Are there
complicated management problems wrapped up in the simple technical
Give your customers more than they expect.
- Aim higher than you commit. Design, implement, test, advise, and
document better than you promised. In the long run, there is no such
thing as "leaving money on the table" Delighted customers and their
friends will bring you new business for years.
The high road is a two-way street.
- Insist on fair rates, signed contracts, and prompt payments. There
is seldom a need to work for a bad customer.
Learn when to "No Bid".
- When you and the customer or the project are mismatched, don't take
the work. Your objective is a successful outcome. Good money for bad
projects leaves a bad taste in everybody's mouth.
Retrain yourself constantly.
- Next quarter, everyone will be selling what you know now. Try to
find work which teaches you something new while you contribute what you
already know. Learn a "big, new thing" every year.
Contributing is marketing.
- Teach and encourage others. Provide a Web page of useful information
for free. Send out newsletters of useful tidbits to your customers.
Answer questions in newsgroups. Give papers at seminars. When
prospective customers want an expert, make sure they can find you where
they're looking. The first phone call goes better when it's the customer
looking for an expert than when it's you looking for work.
Know the business side of running a business.
- Understand every aspect of your contracts. Keep accurate records.
Have contracts ready to fill out and marketing materials ready to fax.
Buy and use good accounting software. Your good business sense, your
accountant, and your lawyer are the only things keeping the IRS and
other lawyers away from your door.
Slow times come when you can least handle them.
- Have a year's living expenses in the bank and be prepared to use it.
You will use it.
Fast times come when you can least handle them.
- Have a ready network of trusted professionals to whom you can refer
business when you're fully engaged. They'll do the same for you.
Customers appreciate your network and the stream of referrals increases,
not reduces, your business.
Love your work, have fun or find a different job.
- Running a business is not just your work, it's your life. You'd
better enjoy it! If you don't enjoy it, find a different line of work.
Stokely Consulting, http://www.stokely.com
Email: Celeste Stokely |
163 14th Trail, Unit B, Cotopaxi CO 81223, (719) 942-3621
Copyright © 2013 Stokely Consulting. All rights reserved.