Dear Molly, When I first started my consulting career I felt I needed experience. I offered to build a system for a local non-profit that I believed in and ended up building them a great system that manages all their contacts, donors and events. It was worth it to me because I learned a lot. The problem is, we are now three years into the project, I have a full load of paying clients, and they remain my most demanding (yet non-billable) client. Honestly, I cringe when the phone rings from them and I don’t know how to get out of this. Help! Tired of Working for Free Dear Tired, I’ve been here before and the good news is there are ways to change this dynamic. First, you have built a system that they depend on, so in my mind you really do owe it to them to continue to support the system or find someone else who can. I suggest you have a formal meeting with them and explain that your business has grown and you can no longer afford to support their system for free. With this in mind you’d like to set up a transition plan […]
Needs analysis is the part of the initial discovery phase of a project where you work with a client to define the problem that needs to be solved and explore possible solutions to that problem. On this podcast episode, Molly and Jason breakdown three important aspects of analyzing the needs of a consulting project: determining who is in the room and why, prioritizing a growing list of requirements, and dealing with ideas that have been proven to fail.
Ever wonder why one programmer/designer/consultant takes a third of the time to complete a task than another skilled individual? This is an excerpt from the Find Your Moose 2015 conference with custom software consultant and trainer Debbie Zempel, Deborah Zempel Consulting, Las Vegas, NV. Debbie dives into the power of standardization to eliminate the churn of deciding which methodology to use and instead focus on doing the work. Become an Elusive Moose member to watch the full video! One of the benefits of an Elusive Moose membership (less than $17/month) is exclusive access to our Find Your Moose conference video series. Along with our conference videos, members have access to our Expert Interview video series and our exclusive Moose Guides. Members also receive discounts on our live events like the upcoming Find Your Moose 2016 conference, September 7 & 8 in Chicago.
Want to stop making the same mistakes? Want some hard nosed advice on how to manage everything from scheduling meetings to managing emails? This is an excerpt from the Find Your Moose 2015 conference with project manager and business owner Susan Fennema, Beyond the Chaos, McKinney, TX. Susan offers simple steps to help you reduce clutter in your day to day business life. Become an Elusive Moose member to watch the full video! One of the benefits of an Elusive Moose membership (less than $17/month) is exclusive access to our Find Your Moose conference video series. Along with our conference videos, members have access to our Expert Interview video series and our exclusive Moose Guides. Members also receive discounts on our live events like the upcoming Find Your Moose 2016 conference, September 7 & 8 in Chicago.
About a month ago, I started to experiment with time blocking. This falls into the obvious-once-you-think-about-it category of productivity hacks, but it was something that I hadn’t really done before. My simple approach was to look at my calendar and block out big chunks of time throughout the week to work on specific projects or tasks. Then when I entered one of those time blocks, I turned off everything that wasn’t necessary to fulfill those tasks. Since I have three primary work related projects in my life—software consulting, Elusive Moose, and music—it was pretty easy to figure out when I should work on what, and then block those times on the calendar. The results have been pretty staggering. I never realized how distracted I was until I removed the distractions, and more importantly, I never realized how those distractions were negatively affecting my productivity. The last few weeks have been my most productive in recent memory and the sense of accomplishment that I have experienced by the end of the day has allowed me to spend my evenings feeling more fulfilled and relaxed, which has only added to the success of the following day. Here are some examples of how […]
In this expert interview, Molly talks with web application developer Roger Jacques. Check out the full video (with an Elusive Moose membership) to learn more about Jacques’ approach to working with clients including: How to set expectations with the client How to bill for your work Ways to handle push back about change orders or bugs Learn more about Jacques’ expertise (and stay tuned for announcements on his forthcoming product release) at tek-connect.com. One of the benefits of an Elusive Moose membership (less than $17/month) is exclusive access to our Expert Interviews video series where we tap into our vast network of colleagues and experts to learn from their experience through personal stories, tips, and techniques. These interviews are informative and inspiring as our guests have faced and overcome many of the same challenges you face each day. Along with Expert Interviews, Elusive Moose members can experience the best sessions from our Find Your Moose conferences through our conference video series, explore techniques, processes, and methodologies through our exclusive Moose Guides, and receive discounts on our live events like the upcoming Find Your Moose conference, September 7 & 8 in Chicago.
Every client and every project presents a unique set of consulting challenges. The very nature of consulting involves working on projects and in scenarios that have never existed before. No matter how great your project management process is or how much experience you have working with clients, you run the risk of facing unexpected challenges that require confidence, courage, and tough skin.
Time blocking is a productivity hack where you intentionally block time on your calendar to focus on specific tasks or goals. It’s no secret that I have a lot going on in my life. I’m a full time custom software consultant with an active roster of clients. I’m a partner and content creator here at Elusive Moose. I’m also a musician and a family man with two teenagers in the house. Yes, that’s a lot. As an entrepreneur, it’s up to me how I spend my time each day. I’m really excited about all of the things that I’m working on and I want to do it all…NOW. But, of course that’s just not realistic. I can’t do everything at once, but my attention can easily be drawn away from what I’m doing to some other exciting idea that pops into my mind. I recently realized just how much bouncing around I do throughout the day. It’s not just my own thoughts that are distracting me, I also have constant access to the various email and social media accounts that represent my different activities and I’m instantly available to my clients and collaborators through a variety of instant communication channels. […]
When is My Work Non-Billable? Dear Molly, I’m a programmer and I’m having a really hard time explaining to a client the difference between what’s billable and what’s non-billable. Every request they send me starts with the subject line, “BUG/S FOUND NEED FIXED”. 90% of the time it isn’t a bug so it is driving me crazy that they keep trying to make everything sound like it is a bug. I know this is a petty question but how would you handle this situation? Not really a bug Hey Bugs, Opening your email box shouldn’t feel like you are being assaulted. Personally, all caps messages, regardless of their content, MAKE ME MAD! A really simple trick I use is to either change the subject line when I send a return message or say something directly like, “Hey, I have a filter on email for your requests. If you want faster response time can you please put ‘Your Client Name: To Do Item’ in your header?” I’m wondering if you have a bigger issue though. I find that a lot of clients need education on the concept of hiring someone who provides an ongoing consulting service. Do you think your client is […]