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The Top 10 Ways to Sabotage Your Consulting Business

David Letterman has perfected the top 10 list and admittedly many of his choices are silly and inane. This list, however, is foolproof. If you practice only one or two of these, you may be able to stay in business. For best results and to totally sabotage your consulting business you must follow all 10.

Rule One: Let the clients come to you.
It is not necessary to market your services through direct mail, no charge consultations to pre-qualified leads, or sending promotional materials to prospects referred by clients. Also forget about presentations to civic and professional audiences and writing articles, books or newsletters. Just get those business cards printed and depend on word of mouth and your sterling reputation to get you all the business you need.

Rule Two: Skip those networking opportunities.
Don’t show up at those Chamber mixers, United Way kick off events, conferences, community planning meetings, or recognition dinners. You have better things to do with your time. Besides, you’re the best there is. Who goes to those things anyway?

Rule Three: Don’t bother learning about your competitors.
You may have heard that Coke always knows what Pepsi is doing, but we’re not talking soft drinks. The world of nonprofit consulting is different. Why should you care what other area consultants are doing, or what unique services they might offer? You know about competitor analysis but that’s just something that’s part of the strategic planning process, it doesn’t have anything to do with you.

Rule Four: Let other people take credit for your creations.
Isn’t it great that other consultants are using your materials without giving you credit and passing them off as theirs? As someone who has worked in human services, you believe in the greater good and are willing to share your ideas and intellectual property. Don’t bother copywriting or even indicating on your materials who developed them. It may be a shock the first time you see your bits and pieces being passed out by other workshop presenters, but you’ll eventually adapt.

Rule Five: Bid high when you don’t like the potential client.
You know about value-based consulting. Well, this is a variation on that theme. This is revenge-based consulting. If you don’t want to work with an organization, don’t talk to them about unresolved issues from previous contracts. You know what I am talking about — lack of access, slow payments, they don’t do what they say they will do when they say they will do it. If you don’t get the contract, you really don’t care and if you get it, well… they will pay dearly. They may question your integrity, but who are they to talk?

And forget paying for a web designer, or marketing consultation, or a professional graphic designer. You can do it all — that’s why you make the big bucks (and possibly why you need to, given how much time you spend doing everything).

If you are new to consulting, this list is a sure fire way to ensure that your tenure will be brief. If you are experienced, but think its time for a change, then these rules will help you to unravel all the good will and best practices you have been following.

About the Contributor: Patricia Smith

Patricia A. Smith, founder and president of Management Strategies is a trained professional with more than 30 years of management experience in the nonprofit sector.

Ms. Smith brings the combined perspective of board member and senior staff having served on numerous non-profit boards, and as a planner for United Way and as Executive Director of theYWCA of Jamestown, New York.

She founded Management Strategies in 1992 as a private consulting firm that provides a comprehensive and integrated approach to organizational development and capacity building through board development, strategic planning facilitation, management services, program development and evaluation. The firm also offers interim agency management and executive search, as well as a variety of custom research and survey projects.

She has served as interim executive director of six different nonprofits. In that capacity she helped board and staff members address important systems and capacity issues, coordinated the executive search process and helped to lay the groundwork for the future organization success.

Trained in strategic planning, Ms. Smith holds a Masters Degree in Community Service Administration from Alfred University. She has taught a wide range of courses in human services, and has presented workshops on numerous management topics. Her clients include individuals, public and private agencies, and foundations.

She is a strong proponent of CharityChannel and an infrequent contributor to CharityChannel’s Nonprofit Consulting Review, and Nonprofit Boards and Governance Review.

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