I recently finished reading Million Dollar Consulting: The Professional’s Guide to Growing a Practice by Alan Weiss. Overall, I found the book to be very useful, and I recommend it to other people in the consulting or contracting fields.
The author has a lot of useful information for any business, but as the title implies, is geared toward consultancies, and Weiss brings several years of practical, successful experience to the reader. The book is divided into three parts: Strategy (starting your consulting business), Tactics (implementing your vision), and Success (achieving self-realization).
I found chapter 10, “How to Write a Proposal That Closes Business” to be of particular value. This, along with Weiss’ established principle that the “conceptual agreement” must first be reached between the consultant and client before any work is done or proposed, make a lot of sense. I realized, in hindsight, that early in my career, proposals were often something I wrote to try to get an idea of what the client wanted. Sometimes this was my own fault for not asking the right questions, but often, I now realize, this was caused by clients who were not really committed to a project, and were just “fishing.” Knowing this, my most recent proposals have a definite different, more focused, attitude to them.
I was really looking forward to Chapter 9, which discusses different methods for establishing fees than what we currently use. Unfortunately, I had to admit that Weiss’ technique largely does not apply to my company and the work we do. Several of the other chapters included things which I take for granted as common sense (how to make yourself accessible, meeting promised deadlines, treating clients with appropriate respect, etc.), but I can see how beginners might not be aware of these things and how they could benefit from the book.
Weiss wraps up with a chapter that includes several ethical issues, and how he’s addressed them in the past. This chapter was also interesting, as he raised several issues which I have encountered in my career, and I appreciated seeing a similar response to them as my own was when I was confronted with them myself.
All in all, time reading this book was well spent, and I recommend it to any professional, not just consultants.
Note: I just found that there’s an updated version of the book coming out soon. I’m going to have to review it’s table of contents to see if it’s significantly different from the 2002 version which I read and reviewed here.