Why most consultants fail (and how I'm succeeding) - not an advertisement

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Joe

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Nov 25, 2003, 2:10:11 PM11/25/03
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I've scoured the net, Barnes & Noble, Books a Million, etc looking for
info on how to be a successful consultant. Most of what I read doesn't
apply to what I do, however it DID help me drastically.

Last June I was the "Director of Computer Support" for a copier company.
We outsourced some computer network services to businesses around the
area. My boss got it in his head somehow that I was useless, that I was
hurting business. Certainly I'm not perfect, but when he had brought up
things I needed to fix, I genuinely tried to improve, but whatever I did
apparently wasn't good enough. He never specifically said why I was let
go and would only say "it's a business decision."

So, the ax fell... Officially I was laid-off so that I could get
unemployment, but he even said in front of me "but that's not the way the
write up I do will be."

My head was spinning. I've never had a problem finding a job, so I didn't
worry too much, but I do have a wife and 4 kids to support so it certainly
scared me.

My previous employer was nice enough to give me a decent severance package
that after taxes brought home about $4500. I had another $2500 in the
bank, so I calculated based on what my wife earned working part time that
I could survive about three months.

The state employment office was a waste of 4 hours of my time only to
tell me they had nothing for me and good luck. Unemployment checks didn't
come because of the severance package.

The day I was let go I called one of the customers I had personally
brought over and let them know I wouldn't be their contact anymore and who
to call if their network went down. They put me on speakerphone and one
of the owners called across the room "Hire him!"

We laughed because I knew they couldn't afford me as a full time employee.
About three hours later she called back to say "You know, we were serious,
if you go on your own we'll sign a contract with you instead."

And that was the start of my new career. I bought about 12 books on
consulting, marketing, computer consulting and motivation. Based on what
I learned about marketing I designed a very simple logo and letterhead
(black on white). I ordered business cards - a box of 1000 because I was
committed.

At first I had only two clients. Luckily one of them brought in around
$2500 a month for the first two months because of major network
reconstruction and a website design. Both clients I knew previously.

Then, slowly it began to happen. First, my old clients from my last job
would call my cellphone trying to get ahold of me. I'd inform them I no
longer worked there and who they needed to call, and invariably they'd ask
what I was doing so I'd tell them. 95% of the time the answer was "Oh,
but we'd rather have you anyway". Three businesses canceled contracts
with my previous employer and signed with me. Thankfully I never signed a
non-compete... ;-)

Last week I even got a call from a company 4 hours away who had heard
about me and wanted me to come out and clean a virus off their network.
They'd tried in vain for 3 weeks to get their contracted company to do it.
I charged them a day-fee and gladly drove out to assist. When I was
leaving they asked if they could get a monthly contract with me.

I've sent personalized letters to professionals in the area (Doctors,
Dentists, Accountants,) introducing my services that each included a
business card. I grabbed their addresses from Anywho - since I program, it
was simple to write a utility to rip them by category right off the
website. I close about 3-5% of those with an average immediate income of
around $600 each, and residuals and referrals that are fast growing.

For instance, I got a call today from an accountant I sent a letter to,
who tells me he has a client who's computer network is screwed up. He
finally told her that "My computer guy will be calling you and give you a
quote to fix this." then he called me. He tells me he has 3 or 4 others
he wants to do this with as well, plus his own network. He got my letter,
and had already learned from another client of mine what I was doing.

So, what do I do to get this fast growth?

First, I'm not your typical computer geek. In our town which is
predominately NASA and tech companies, most out of work geeks are just
that - geeks. Very little social skills. I worked retail
management for 6 years and business to business sales for 7 so I've been
forced to interact with people every day, and I have sales experience.

I always take the approach that no problem or question is stupid. And I
make sure the client knows this.

I always give a verbal summary of everything I've done in as plain of
English as I can when I finish a job.

I always leave two more business cards with a client when I finish, and
explain that I'd appreciate any referrals they could give me.

I do NOT do cold-calls. I don't do cold-visits. I DO targeted customized
letters to business owners, but that only accounts for about 15% of my
business. The rest is referrals and repeats.

I always call to follow up the day after a major job.

I do NOT charge for phone support.

I do NOT charge for travel time.

I do NOT charge for a follow-up visit the day after a major network change
(for instance I installed a W2K server last week, and thought I was done
to find the next day that the backups didn't work. The return visit to
fix that problem was no charge.)

I send thank-you cards after payment is received.

I give NET-10 terms to businesses, and COD to individuals.

If I'm not doing client work on a given day, I dedicate that day to
marketing efforts (letters, press releases, networking, etc.)

I do NOT rely on web marketing, however I do have a crisp website.

I e-mailed everyone I know and told them what I'm doing and asked if they
knew anyone I could talk with who might need my services.

I associate with others. I'm in the local Linux group, which doesn't
generate clients, but does generate LEADS. I help out at the kid's
schools. I'm active in Church. I make a point to let everyone I know what
I do, without sounding like I'm selling something. I just tell them that
I'm a self-employed computer consultant for small businesses and maybe
that I specialize in networks. If I've had a wonderful week and I'm
chatting with someone I might bring up "Wow, last week I got a call from
Atlanta! Can you believe that?" or "I cleaned up about 15 thousand
viruses this week" - it just drives home that I'm a computer jock for
hire. I try to have lunch with another professional at least once a month.

I stay in touch with the media. I've even been quoted on the 5:00 news by
a local TV station when they were discussing the anti-spam legislation.

Everyone needs computer support. What I've learned is that done properly,
people will buy my services without ever meeting me first, AND they don't
care what I charge. When someone calls me from the letters I send out,
only 1 in 5 will ask what my rates are. 2 of those 5 will want to
schedule a time for me to do work sight unseen. The other two will
want the "free network evaluation" that I mention in my letter, and one of
those will turn into work by the time I'm done. The one that asked my
rate almost never closes.

I've learned that people keep my marketing materials for months before
they might call me. Last week two people called me from a mailing I did
at the end of June, almost 5 months ago. When I show up, they have my
business card taped to their desk, or one even had my entire letter taped
on the inside of a cabinet door, with the card stapled to it.

Here it is only 5 months in, and I've used around 750 business cards.
Every invoice I send out has a business card in it. Every client I do
work for gets a total of 3 cards - one for them, two for referrals. Every
letter I send out has a card in it. Every friend gets one because it "has
my cellphone number on it" for when they need to get ahold of me.

Books I recommend:
Getting clients to come to you (I have the tapes)
Guerrilla Marketing
Get Clients NOW!
High-Income consulting (read this before starting!)
The Bible

I add that last one because a leap like this is definitely a leap of faith.

Books I don't recommend:
Anything about computer consulting. They're all downers written by geeks.

Most of the best consulting books have nothing to do with computers.
Other than the "process management" sections of them, they are perfect
however. They talk about business to business sales, marketing basics,
motivation, billing, etc.

Also, get a business license. Get a business checking account. Get a tax
/ business adviser. I got lucky and found an accountant willing to trade
services with me. He's helped me set up my books, account, Federal tax ID
and payroll. Yes, payroll. I pay myself because the taxes are the same
either way (payroll v/s self-employment tax) and I get social security
benefits built up.

Get on the local and state bid lists. Even if you never bid on anything
you'll know what's going on.

Don't blow money on newspaper ads, magazine ads, etc. I haven't spoken
with anyone who ever got rich doing that. Don't market to individuals or
you'll spend your life torn between cleaning the same virus for the third
time and trying to collect payment. I only take on individuals that I
know, or that are partners or owners of a business I work with or
otherwise influential.

Stop giving out free support to friends. Really. This is the hard one.
People you know will take advantage of you if you let them. HOWEVER,
barter IS appropriate. If a friend says "Hey, we'll make dinner for
everyone if you come over and fix my computer" then that's a deal, that's
not a hand-out. My answer to most people who want me to come fix their
home computer is "I'm not sure you can afford me." If they push the issue
then I know they are serious.

Anyway, I just wanted to say in the midst of all the gloom and doom of
failing consultants and losing jobs, it IS possible to start a successful
consulting company if you just set your mind to it. I can't even imagine
working for someone else anymore. I work about 12 or 15 hours a week on
average and I'm starting to make more than I ever have before.

It's not easy. Goodness knows I bought my share of sleeping pills when I
first got started, but I didn't give up and I'm finally seeing the
benefits of that.

And, I want to thank my previous employer for not only spinning me off on
my own but for financing my startup ;-)

Adrian Leishman

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Nov 26, 2003, 8:17:24 AM11/26/03
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Joe <j...@blow.com> wrote in message news:<pan.2003.11.25....@blow.com>...
<snip>

Fantastic! A consultant that isn't blaming Democrats, Republicans,
Bush, Indians, Greedy Corporations, [your bigotry here]...

I'm not doing as great as you but I am doing well. It's nice to hear
from someone who realizes that Job Boards and Head Hunters are not
going to get you anything. The negative attitudes of people who post
their resumes on Monster and get no calls is getting annoying.

Congratulations. I hope your hard work spills over to others around
you.


Adrian M Leishman

Don Wallace

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Nov 28, 2003, 11:28:12 PM11/28/03
to
Whoever you are, you anonymous rascal ;-), thanks for the great
encouraging words. What an awesome personal testimony.

"Power to the people!"

On Tue, 25 Nov 2003 13:10:11 -0600, Joe <j...@blow.com> said:

...


>Anyway, I just wanted to say in the midst of all the gloom and doom of
>failing consultants and losing jobs, it IS possible to start a successful
>consulting company if you just set your mind to it. I can't even imagine
>working for someone else anymore. I work about 12 or 15 hours a week on
>average and I'm starting to make more than I ever have before.

...

Scott

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Nov 29, 2003, 4:36:13 AM11/29/03
to
Joe... Do you have an email address that I can get ahold of you at? I'd
like to ask you a couple of questions.

Thanks in advance.

dpur...@usa.net

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Nov 30, 2003, 11:17:19 AM11/30/03
to
On Tue, 25 Nov 2003 13:10:11 -0600, Joe <j...@blow.com> wrote:

>I've scoured the net, Barnes & Noble, Books a Million, etc looking for
>info on how to be a successful consultant. Most of what I read doesn't
>apply to what I do, however it DID help me drastically.

I want to stress for others something you mentioned several times:
referrals. These absolutely drive my business, and from what I have
seen and heard, every other successful consultant. If a significant
portion of your income is not from referrals then you are doing
something very, very wrong.

Anyway, thanks for the posting.

Joe

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Nov 30, 2003, 6:22:28 PM11/30/03
to

I've fired off an e-mail to you from my valid account. Obviously the one
here is a fake name ;-)

Mike Turco

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Dec 1, 2003, 3:22:04 AM12/1/03
to
Hi Joe,

Thanks for sharing your story! It reminds me of all the excitement I had in
starting my business, and that is a special gift!

Read _The E-myth Revisitied_ (availible at e-myth.com and pretty much
everywhere else). Don't become the pie lady.

Mike


"Joe" <j...@blow.com> wrote in message
news:pan.2003.11.25....@blow.com...

JoelN

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Dec 1, 2003, 8:54:27 AM12/1/03
to
Joe
Do you mind posting your letter you sent out to prospective clients?
I am starting my business in January and would some ideas for my target
audience.
Thanks
JoelN
joelsn at csdca dot com


"Joe" <j...@blow.com> wrote in message

news:pan.2003.11.30....@blow.com...

Burt Johnson

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Dec 1, 2003, 10:39:50 PM12/1/03
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Mike Turco <mike...@yahoo-nospam4me.com> wrote:

> Hi Joe,
>
> Thanks for sharing your story! It reminds me of all the excitement I had in
> starting my business, and that is a special gift!
>
> Read _The E-myth Revisitied_ (availible at e-myth.com and pretty much
> everywhere else). Don't become the pie lady.
>

Fascinating read! I only read the first chapter (available free
Online), but I can emphathize with that pie lady.

My first business, in the mid 70's was just like that. I fell in love
with underwater photography. After a long convoluted tale that only
spanned a year (too long a story to tell here), I launched Scales &
Tails Exotic Imports.

We sold all kinds of pets (excluding dogs and cats) to pet stores
throughout the NorthWest. I loved the animals and soon had 3000
aquariums, and whole rooms filled with birds, another room just for
iguanas, another for rodents, etc.

After 6 years I was exhausted and broke. We went bankrupt in 1980. I
have never owned a pet of any kind since that day...

--
- Burt Johnson
MindStorm, Inc.
http://www.mindstorm-inc.com/software.html

Chris Hanson

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Dec 2, 2003, 1:23:34 AM12/2/03
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In article <eq5ksvo8igtf7vquq...@4ax.com>,
<dpur...@usa.net> wrote:

> I want to stress for others something you mentioned several times:
> referrals. These absolutely drive my business, and from what I have
> seen and heard, every other successful consultant. If a significant
> portion of your income is not from referrals then you are doing
> something very, very wrong.

In part, whether or not you can get valuable referrals depends on what
kind of consulting you're doing and for whom you're doing it.

I don't get anywhere near the kinds of referrals many people seem to.
In part, it's because my primary business is something very different
from what Joe does: custom Mac OS X and WebObjects software
development. This makes my target market very different too; I'm
unlikely to get much of any business through my local Chamber of
Commerce, or sending letters to the heads of local small businesses.

(I once got an inquiry from someone running a small business about
developing some software. People don't seem to realize that just
because software is a couple hundred dollars at the store doesn't mean
it will only cost a couple hundred dollars to develop...)

The other reason I don't get as many referrals is one that I'm trying
to rectify: Most of my work has been for competitors in one way or
another. In other words, I've done work for brokers and other
intermediaries, under non-compete agreements.

This means I can't go back to the end client and solicit new business
within the period of the non-compete. Not only that, but most end
clients aren't in a position to give referrals either; much of my
brokered work has been for Windows shops that have taken on Mac work,
so who would they be in a position to refer me to outside themselves?
They themselves would rather get more of that work, and do it in-house
if possible or bring me in to do more work for them if not possible.

The way I'm trying to remedy this is twofold: I have been much more
wary of entering into new non-compete agreements this year, and I'm
trying very hard to avoid doing any further work that isn't directly
for the end client of that work. I find I can best serve the client's
needs when *they* are my client, and not someone else's.

I'm also starting to market a new non-development service (Outsourcing
Vendor Evaluation) that lends itself more to a "traditional" consulting
model. That is, it avoids "preferred vendor" and HR hassles because I
can be brought in at a sufficiently high level of the client
organization, and involves extremely personalized service which means
referrals will actually be worthwhile to pursue and use to drive new
business.

-- Chris

--
Chris Hanson <c...@bdistributed.com>
bDistributed.com, Inc.
Outsourcing Vendor Evaluation
Custom Mac OS X Development
Cocoa Developer Training

Peng Te

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Dec 2, 2003, 1:11:23 AM12/2/03
to
Joe, you have inspired me to keep going. Can you send me your email, also?

Peng

Mike Turco

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Dec 2, 2003, 12:32:35 PM12/2/03
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<dpur...@usa.net> wrote in message
news:eq5ksvo8igtf7vquq...@4ax.com...

> On Tue, 25 Nov 2003 13:10:11 -0600, Joe <j...@blow.com> wrote:
>
> >I've scoured the net, Barnes & Noble, Books a Million, etc looking for
> >info on how to be a successful consultant. Most of what I read doesn't
> >apply to what I do, however it DID help me drastically.
>
> I want to stress for others something you mentioned several times:
> referrals. These absolutely drive my business, and from what I have
> seen and heard, every other successful consultant.

Referrals are a good indicator that you're on the right track. But repeat
business is better. Furthermore, you really can't grow your business,
especially into new or broader directions, without bringing in new customers
from your marketing efforts. My opinion is that a healthy company brings in
business from all three areas. -- Mike

seebreez

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Dec 6, 2003, 9:24:10 AM12/6/03
to
On Tue, 25 Nov 2003 13:10:11 -0600, Joe <j...@blow.com> wrote:

Hi Joe, thanks for a truly informative messge re consulting.

I've been consulting for about a year now, and really got lucky on
startup: I was a sysadmin at a large local tech company and was laid
off. But my wife's company hired me to do part-time consulting
(basically, computer system and network administration). They are a
real estate, management, development and construction company with
around 30-40 pc's, a main office internet/ethernet lan, and 12
distributed computerized apartment complexes. I spend around 20
hours/week supporting these guys.

I've really just considered myself a part-time sysadmin until I
recently picked up another local contract on a referral... a flakey
internet connection. I repaired it (basically replaced the DSL modem),
but they want me to come back and help them update their network and
computers, and I anticipate an extended and expanding relationship.

I'm located in the southeast in a smaller metro area. I'm charging
these guys $30/hour, and wonder if I'm undercharging. I've looked at
some of the consulting websites on the net, and even low-end rates
seem to run to the $40-45/hr rate.

I have two quick questions, please:
1) what geographical area do you live in? and
2) what hourly rate do you charge? (maybe more appropriately, DO you
charge per hour?)

>I've scoured the net, Barnes & Noble, Books a Million, etc looking for

[great message deleted to save bandwidth]>

Sgt. Sausage

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Dec 15, 2003, 5:41:40 PM12/15/03
to

> (I once got an inquiry from someone running a small business about
> developing some software. People don't seem to realize that just
> because software is a couple hundred dollars at the store doesn't mean
> it will only cost a couple hundred dollars to develop...)

We get this every day! We do a lot of QuickBooks (Intuit) integration
work -- interfacing QB to, say, an order entry app. If you're
using QB, chances are you're "small potatoes". The small
customers *always* have what we've come to know as an
extreme case of "sticker shock". They can not, no matter how
we explain it to them, understand why they can get the base
software (QB) for a couple of hundred bucks, but our estimate
is an order of magnitude (or more) higher to do the integration
work. People seem to think that, because they can buy QB for
a couple of hundred bucks, they can integrate it with their
other software for a lousy couple of hundred bucks.

I've tried the "economies of scale" argument: Intuit sells
the base software to millions of individuals, and can
price appropriately. Nope. They don't understand.
I've tried the analogies of "cookie-cutter" tract based
housing -vs- custom home building and the associated
differences in costs. I've tried to explain it in any way
I can that makes sense and I've no idea how to get
through to these people! It's frustrating as hell.

We've gotten to the point of asking a new prospect, up
front, what they expect to pay for this service and what,
exactly, their budget is. If it's not in the right ballpark, we
thank them for considering us and ask them to look
elsewhere. I used to think that something like this was,
at best rude, and at worst detrimental to the negotiation
process (asking them to lay their cards out where we
can see them) -- but after a few dozen client engagements
that were fruitless due to "sticker shock", I said "screw it!"
and started asking up front what they wanted to spend and
what they expected for the dollars they had to spend.

It's saved a lot of wasted effort.

Sgt. Sausage

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Dec 15, 2003, 5:56:18 PM12/15/03
to
>
> I'm located in the southeast in a smaller metro area. I'm charging
> these guys $30/hour, and wonder if I'm undercharging. I've looked at
> some of the consulting websites on the net, and even low-end rates
> seem to run to the $40-45/hr rate.
>
> I have two quick questions, please:
> 1) what geographical area do you live in? and
> 2) what hourly rate do you charge? (maybe more appropriately, DO you
> charge per hour?)

I'd think that, no matter what geographical area you're in,
that you're under charging. Think about it. At full time
(say, 2000 hours a year), that's only 60K a year *and*
you're paying your own way: You're paying your own
benefits, all your own overhead, the SE (Self Employment)
tax, office expenses, your own phone/fax/email etc.)

You're underpaid at $30.00 an hour no matter
where you're living in the U.S.

My answers to your questions:

(a) Midwest (Cincinnati, OH)

(b) Rates range depending on a number of
factors (type of service, number of hours
for the project, repeat customer, billing
terms (we give discounts for paying
early), experience -- we bill less for
our "junior" folks than we do for our
"senior" folks, etc.)

Anyway, our lowest rate is $63.00 an
hour and our highest rate is $94.00 an
hour, with our average billed year to date
for 2003 being $87.00 (and change) an hour.
For our direct competitors (that we know of) in
our area, this is right smack-dab in the
"average" category. We're not cheap, and
we're not expensive. Your mileage may
vary.

We do alright with that. We don't rake in the
money, and we don't starve -- but make a good,
profitable, comfortable living for all involved
(owners/partners and employees).

In my area, we'd all starve on $30.00 an hour. Sure, if
I were hungry and really *needed* cash flow in a
hurry, I might underbid something for the short
term for a quick buck -- but, sheesh, $30.00 an
hour (!) it's just not sustainable where I live.

Joe

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Dec 15, 2003, 2:13:28 AM12/15/03
to
On Sat, 06 Dec 2003 08:24:10 -0600, seebreez wrote:

> On Tue, 25 Nov 2003 13:10:11 -0600, Joe <j...@blow.com> wrote:
>
> Hi Joe, thanks for a truly informative messge re consulting.

> I have two quick questions, please:


> 1) what geographical area do you live in? and
> 2) what hourly rate do you charge? (maybe more appropriately, DO you
> charge per hour?)

Hehe... well considering your description here, I'm not going to say any
more than I am ALSO in the southeast, in a smaller metro area ("Biggest
little town around" they say). I charge $75 / hour negotiable down for
some clients and some large jobs. On average though, it only goes down if
the client commits to a monthly retainer.

Joe

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Dec 15, 2003, 2:29:40 AM12/15/03
to
On Tue, 02 Dec 2003 09:32:35 -0800, Mike Turco wrote:

> Referrals are a good indicator that you're on the right track. But repeat
> business is better. Furthermore, you really can't grow your business,
> especially into new or broader directions, without bringing in new customers
> from your marketing efforts. My opinion is that a healthy company brings in
> business from all three areas. -- Mike

Well, how about this for making referrals work for you:

I have a client who's wife happens to be a big-time exec at a local TV
station. I noticed that the TV station's website is lacking, so I
approached her, leveraging my already in place relationship with her
husband's business, asking who I would meet with to discuss their website.
Turns out, she met with me directly. Notice I didn't wait for the
referral to come to me - I actively pursued a referral opportunity.

I walked out with a verbal agreement to redo their website and basic
monthly maintenance on it. In exchange they will produce two
different commercials for me and run a generous allotment of commercials
every month. Plus my company tag will be at the bottom of their website.

I would _never_ have paid for TV advertising. I don't expect any results
from the TV ads themselves. However for maybe 20 hours of work upfront,
and 5 hours a month I will get a considerable presence. I expect that
when someone hears my name in a referral, it would at the very least
trigger a "That sounds familiar" response. And I get bragging rights of
having developed a major local media website.

I do get quite a bit of repeat business and am building a portfolio of
monthly retainer contracts, so I'm steady there.

Things are still very tight financially some months, in fact December
looks to only bring in a few hundred over my retainers, but I've planned
for that and didn't blow my budget when the last two months exceeded all
my expectations.

Oh, and guys n gals... don't forget to send out Christmas cards to all of
your contacts.

-Joe

MeNotHome

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Dec 17, 2003, 12:29:20 PM12/17/03
to
How do you guys price your monthy retainers. Do you roll hours if
they don't use the time? Or do they loose it?

Let's say your normal rate is $75/hr, how many hours do they have to
agree to per month to get you to say $50/hr

Thanks for any info

jga...@comcast.net

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Dec 18, 2003, 7:55:13 AM12/18/03
to
First off I wanted to say Joe, thanks so much for your really
encouraging post. I am about to get laid off from my Sys Engineer
position and have been planning to start my own consulting/engineering
business. I have about 4 years of Network Admin experience, Certs,
and degrees.. My wife has her BA in accounting (she would work cheap
:-), and I feel I am a very business minded and epically people mined
person. I am also planning to take a class offered by the local CC on
Small Business startup and management.

A few questions if you don't mind:

1. How do you market yourself? By "yourself" I mean how do you get
over the hump of being a 1 man show. Without much research into this,
that seems to be the biggest struggle I have. Are most Small
Businesses okay with hiring a lone engineer over a small team of
Engineers/Consultants that a larger company might offer? IE...giving
the customer 24/7 support...

2. That letter!! :-) I have to see a copy of it if you don't mind!!
If you could post it or possibly e-mail it to me that would be great.
(take the "X" out of the e-mail address for a valid account)

3. Partnership.... Do you feel in your experience that going at this
yourself is the best? Or possibly taking on another person?

I'm sure I have a thousand questions I would love to ask - but that's
what business consultants are for :-). Thanks again for your post...I
was having 2nd thoughts about this, but after reading your post I feel
maybe there is hope.. Again I would love to see that letter!! Thanks
for your time!


MeNotHome <dtfa@****nospm****insightbb.com> wrote in message news:<nh41uv8va4u78s3dd...@4ax.com>...


> How do you guys price your monthy retainers. Do you roll hours if
> they don't use the time? Or do they loose it?
>

<Snip>

Typhoon News User

unread,
Dec 22, 2003, 7:49:49 PM12/22/03
to
I like the comment to friend who ask you to fix their PC, that pisses me
off. My neighbour is a general contractor, if I ask him to fix anything, he
charges me for it, and so he should. But because his daughter hangs out
with mine and he has a computer, he is constantly calling me asking me to
change an ink cartridge, or add a card or recommend a scanner, hey my time
is worth something too

So, I will use that line
"You probably can't afford me"

I love it


"Joe" <j...@blow.com> wrote in message

news:pan.2003.12.15....@blow.com...

Ben Kaufman

unread,
Dec 23, 2003, 9:28:51 AM12/23/03
to
On Tue, 23 Dec 2003 00:49:49 GMT, "Typhoon News User" <ne...@nbnet.nb.ca> wrote:

>I like the comment to friend who ask you to fix their PC, that pisses me
>off. My neighbour is a general contractor, if I ask him to fix anything, he
>charges me for it, and so he should. But because his daughter hangs out
>with mine and he has a computer, he is constantly calling me asking me to
>change an ink cartridge, or add a card or recommend a scanner, hey my time
>is worth something too
>
>So, I will use that line
>"You probably can't afford me"
>
>I love it

It's funny that he doesn't see the relationship between your daughters as cause
for not charging you. :-)

Of course now that you've given him the services for free you just can't hit him
with an invoice for the next service call without warning.
However, the next time he calls you can find out if he's willing to return the
favor on some house project you need help on, and have one ready to discuss.
If it's one that would cost more than a few hundred, find out how many pc calls
it would be :-)
Or, if you're not in the mood for bartering then just tell him that your time
off needs to be away from what you do at work all day. If he doesn't take the
hint and is still trying to get a freebie then tell the cheapskate you would be
happy to sell him a service contract or (what I do since I'm strictly software)
recommend a service company to him.

My dad was a doctor and people would come up to him all the time looking for an
on the spot diagnosis. He would tell them to make an appointment. at the office
because he wasn't going to give a professional opinion without a proper
examination.

Ben

ni...@vb-tech.com

unread,
Dec 23, 2003, 4:41:59 PM12/23/03
to
Hi Joe?
would I be able to email you directly as well please. Take the X out
of my email address above.

Many thanks
Nick Swan


Joe <j...@blow.com> wrote in message news:<pan.2003.11.25....@blow.com>...

stu

unread,
Dec 23, 2003, 1:19:19 PM12/23/03
to
Hey all

I have been running a local consulting practice on and off here in central
NJ on about ten years. I also have a bachelors in business administration.
Joe has the absolute right idea in running a successful business and the
referral pipeline.

About 7 years ago a small accounting practice that was a referral from a
gentlemen in my synagogue called me with a simple server upgrade. He told
me that his practice was in the toilet and that he could not pay me for
hours of work. This was a slow time for me as well and I did not have a
tremendous amount of billable work on my own. aside from the gas to go to
his office there was no out of pocket.

I agreed to go and do his upgrade in exchange for some referrals. Of those
five referrals I got one major network installation for a law firm, and one
on-going client for whom I am still doing work.

Yes it could have turned out differently, but taking educated risks is what
running a successful business is all about.

Stuart

Monmouth Data Alliance
Freehold NJ

"Joe" <j...@blow.com> wrote in message

news:pan.2003.12.15....@blow.com...

Kamal R. Prasad

unread,
Dec 24, 2003, 12:17:47 PM12/24/03
to
"stu" <vze3n...@verizon.net> wrote in message news:<HG%Fb.229$1o....@nwrdny01.gnilink.net>...


> Hey all
>
> I have been running a local consulting practice on and off here in central
> NJ on about ten years. I also have a bachelors in business administration.
> Joe has the absolute right idea in running a successful business and the
> referral pipeline.
>
> About 7 years ago a small accounting practice that was a referral from a
> gentlemen in my synagogue called me with a simple server upgrade. He told

Just curious - are all people named "Stu" jews (from any particular
part of the world)? This is not a racially motivated statement because
I hold the Stu I knew in high esteem.

thanks
-kamal

Amer Khalid

unread,
Dec 27, 2003, 12:32:54 AM12/27/03
to

Hi All!

I was just thinking of how I got rid of my parasitc friends. What I did when
some parasitic friends calls me about their machine, I will simply tell them
that I will be glad to look at it as soon as I get a chance. But I would
never look at their machine no matter what. If call me again, I will tell
them I have been busy lately with paid work. If they try to get support on
the phone, I will tell them call me back later cuz I am busy now. If they
call me again I will say same thing. If I am at their house for some other
reason like party, and they try to get me to fix their computers I will tell
them that I have been working on the computers all day, I don't feel like
looking at another one. Or sometimes I will tell them I don't take work to
parties. Sometimes my friends try to be sneaky and use AOL IM to ask me
questions, if their question cannot be answered in less than two words I
will simply not respond.

I think the key is to let your friends know that you are busy enough at work
and you don't want to spend your free time with computers.

Your friends should respect your free time.

-amer


Amer Khalid

unread,
Dec 30, 2003, 1:07:49 PM12/30/03
to
"Ben Kaufman" <spaXm-mXe-anXd-p...@pobox.com> wrote in
message news:<3mfguvg6jn05gqm3m...@4ax.com>...

>> On Tue, 23 Dec 2003 00:49:49 GMT, "Typhoon News User"
>> <ne...@nbnet.nb.ca> wrote:
>>
>
>>> >I like the comment to friend who ask you to fix their PC, that pisses


>>> >me off. My neighbour is a general contractor, if I ask him to fix
>>> >anything, he charges me for it, and so he should. But because his
>>> >daughter hangs out with mine and he has a computer, he is constantly
>>> >calling me asking me to change an ink cartridge, or add a card or
>>> >recommend a scanner, hey my time is worth something too
>>> >
>>> >So, I will use that line
>>> >"You probably can't afford me"
>>> >
>>> >I love it
>
>>
>> It's funny that he doesn't see the relationship between your daughters


>> as cause for not charging you.
>>

>> Of course now that you've given him the services for free you just
>> can't hit him with an invoice for the next service call without
>> warning. However, the next time he calls you can find out if he's
>> willing to return the favor on some house project you need help on,
>> and have one ready to discuss. If it's one that would cost more than a


>> few hundred, find out how many pc calls it would be Or, if you're


>> not in the mood for bartering then just tell him that your time off
>> needs to be away from what you do at work all day. If he doesn't take
>> the hint and is still trying to get a freebie then tell the
>> cheapskate you would be happy to sell him a service contract or (what
>> I do since I'm strictly software) recommend a service company to him.
>>
>> My dad was a doctor and people would come up to him all the time
>> looking for an on the spot diagnosis. He would tell them to make an
>> appointment. at the office because he wasn't going to give a
>> professional opinion without a proper examination.
>>
>> Ben
>>

Shell

unread,
Dec 31, 2003, 1:08:46 AM12/31/03
to
In responce to the post:
On Tue, 30 Dec 2003 13:07:49 -0500, Amer Khalid
<some...@nowhere.com> stated...and I replied:

For all those that agree, or have related similar stories, of ignoring
attempts of "friends" to work on their computers without paying your
normal rates for your time and expertise...I can only imagine that you
all must not have many friends.

I've been in the computer field (production, operations, programming,
administrations...) for over 30 years. Not once have I charged a
friend my normal rate (lately it's around $75 per hour) to fix their
computers. Many times I've been called to a friends house for
emergency fixes (once was from the old DOS >DEL *.* while in the root
directory). When asked how much I would charge (and most have asked)
I always reply, "Invite my wife and I back on another evening for
dinner". I've never been disappointed by the feasts I've received,
and I have friends from coast to coast.

This may not work for most of you though, as for all the time I've
been working my profession I have my love of it to keep me going...at
work or not.

Shell
-
http://drshell.home.mindspring.com/
Into computers since 1972.
WARNING! Information and e-mail addresses contained herein, are for personal use only. By entering this site, you agree that you will use this data only for lawful purposes and that, under no circumstances will you use this data to: allow, enable, or otherwise support the transmission of mass unsolicited, commercial advertising or solicitations via direct mail, electronic mail, or by telephone. Violators will be dealt with accordingly.
-

Gene Wirchenko

unread,
Dec 31, 2003, 7:29:01 PM12/31/03
to
Amer Khalid <some...@nowhere.com> wrote:

[snip]

>I was just thinking of how I got rid of my parasitc friends. What I did
>when some parasitic friends calls me about their machine, I will simply
>tell them that I will be glad to look at it as soon as I get a chance.

[snip]

>I think the key is to let your friends know that you are busy enough at
>work and you don't want to spend your free time with computers.
>
>Your friends should respect your free time.

Or you could try
<http://dumbentia.com/pdflib/chuck.pdf>
dumbentia has a number of other spoof computer ads.

Sincerely,

Gene Wirchenko

Computerese Irregular Verb Conjugation:
I have preferences.
You have biases.
He/She has prejudices.

Levi Patrick II

unread,
Jan 3, 2004, 8:07:56 PM1/3/04
to
Hello Joe,

I'm glad to hear your doing well. I'm a generalist for 20 years and managed
a retail store, so I am pretty good at selling and normal looking. I wish I
would have gotten to know the sales people at some of the VARs I worked and
figure out how to sell a non tangible product.

The letter below is what I'd say again. The BIG question is a sample of that
sales letter would be GREAT! I'm in NW Illinois, so I wouldn't compete. I've
been slowing going broke and with 2 kids and a wife. I started looking for a
job in September and this is the worst time I've ever had! Maybe I need to
dye my really grey hair (I'm 43, no wrinkles) because I think they think I'm
too old. Maybe it's just a bad streak, you got me.

I'd REALLY like to see that letter! Remove the "-remove-spam" for my e-mail.

Thanks in advance,
Levi

"Joe" <j...@blow.com> wrote in message

news:pan.2003.11.25....@blow.com...

Garett

unread,
Jan 8, 2004, 3:23:24 AM1/8/04
to
Gene Wirchenko <ge...@mail.ocis.net> wrote in message news:<5336vvog9ht6ps10b...@4ax.com>...


WOW.

Joe..great motivation letter. When is your book coming out???? :)

Would you mind emailing me your email contact and your letter that you
send out to me as well?

(I know your busy, but thank you.)

My situation is I have 5 clients. I want to hire a tech to handle the
work load(1099) while I drum up new clients. I have never done that
and curious what pitfalls you have run into with this. I work out of
my Apartment.

Also, Do you have a reseller license? Is it worth it if your not doing
$20000 per year?

Thanks again.

Garett

Ted Jordan, JordanTeam Computing

unread,
Feb 10, 2004, 1:02:45 PM2/10/04
to
regarding referrals, i joined a referral based marketing
organization here in Cleveland called BNI (www.bni.com).

i hafta say that this for me has done better than any
advertising, chambers, etc.

they only allow one member from each profession, so one
lawyer, one doctor, one photographer. While the banker
is out doing business & he hear's of someone that needs
a computer tech, they refer you. It's like having 25
extra salespeople.

anyway, i've been involved for about 2 years, and it's
worked out very well for me.

my 2 cents
ted

hippo

unread,
Feb 13, 2004, 3:16:46 PM2/13/04
to
hi ted, what kind of services or products do you sell ??
did you ever get any business from the bni?
how much business in $$ did you get from them in the 2yrs?
thanks
hippo

Ted Jordan, JordanTeam Computing

unread,
Feb 21, 2004, 9:53:14 PM2/21/04
to
well, i started out selling linux training & consulting.
was going broke.

so, bni has been helpful with me getting into smaller
enterprises doing windoze (still can't say it), and
setting up networks...web design, sales, phone support,
virus removal, spyware removal, custom programming...u
name it.

my first deal was for $3000 (can't say u'll get the same
results). Most deals have been for around $500; altho I've
had more & less.

The business has been pretty consistent, and it's
definitely been worth the dues (for me).

I think where people fail is they expect things to come
fast & automatic. I did what they instructed me to do
like meet with the people one-on-one & do decent 60 sec
& 10 min commercials...mostly educating the people (they
do not know the difference between virus protection &
a firewall...hey, I don't know the real differences between
house insurance & title insurance)

I also have a little more of a marketing bent to myself
than technical (I job most of the work out).

anyway, I think it's so worthwhile that I became
president of my chapter.

Like the person that started this thread, I'm also involved
with the Chamber, Marketing associations, Computer associations,
etc. I speak for clubs & professional associations. I am
a member of Kiwanis & my church. These have all brot me
some business, and what I learned from BNI helped me to make
the most of these other orgs.

take care
ted

Charles Calvert

unread,
Feb 21, 2004, 11:21:24 PM2/21/04
to
On Fri, 13 Feb 2004 20:16:46 GMT, " hippo" <" hippo"@nomospam.com>
wrote in <402D30BC...@nomospam.com>:

>hi ted, what kind of services or products do you sell ??
>did you ever get any business from the bni?
> how much business in $$ did you get from them in the 2yrs?

I'm also a BNI member, though only for a few months now. It's a new
chapter and I have to educate the folks on what I can do for them
(mostly custom software development). While I don't get referrals at
the rate that our painting/remodeling guy does, one referral for me
could be worth a couple hundred thousand dollars.

So far I haven't gotten anything substantial from a chapter member,
but I have made one referral to a fellow ICCA member when a BNI member
needed services I didn't provide. We'll see how it goes.

--
Charles Calvert
Moderator - alt.computer.consultants.moderated
Submission Address: ac...@celticwolf.net
Contact Address: accm...@celticwolf.net

chigger

unread,
Mar 25, 2004, 6:30:39 PM3/25/04
to
Is there anyway to have a repost of this letter?

thanks all!


Chig

Charles Calvert

unread,
Mar 25, 2004, 10:56:00 PM3/25/04
to
On Thu, 25 Mar 2004 23:30:39 GMT, chigger <chi...@southernbugs.com>
wrote in <Xns94B7BCF191E55ch...@216.77.188.18>:

>Is there anyway to have a repost of this letter?

Not unless the original author decides to repost it. However, you can
find almost everything ever posted to the group at
<http://groups.google.com/>.

For this specific thread, see <http://tinyurl.com/2m6ck> [google.com].

chigger

unread,
Mar 26, 2004, 5:48:35 AM3/26/04
to
Charles Calvert <cb...@yahoo.com> wrote in
news:8ba760hede0r273tj...@4ax.com:

> http://tinyurl.com/2m6ck

Thank you so much Charles!

Chig

Greg

unread,
Aug 2, 2004, 10:57:55 PM8/2/04
to
Joe, may I contact you as well, I would like to email you a few questions...

Greg


"Joe" <j...@blow.com> wrote in message

Jim Fisher

unread,
Aug 4, 2004, 2:50:07 PM8/4/04
to
(top posting is on purpose for this post - sorry)

This is a great story from this poster. I've seen quite a few of you
attempt to contact him privately (which is against USENET rules. You should
all ask question here but that's beside the point).

I guess I'm gonna pipe in a say this guy isn't so special. He just seized
an opportunity when it presented itself. Some would call this luck. I
would reply "bullsquat." One is "lucky" when one puts himself in the way of
opportunity, grabs it, and runs with it. There is no such thing as "luck."
"Good timing" maybe. But not luck.

I have employees right now who could do just what this guy did if I were
stupid enough to not pay them enough to cause them to look elsewhere. They,
however, don't seem to like risk. They have families. They need a steady
paycheck. I am so happy for that.

However, most of my competitors over the years started out right where they
are. They got fired, laid off, whatever, and decided that they wanted to
continue their practice on their own. Some were successful. Some are
bankrupt.

Me? I worked for a computer store a dozen years ago before Wal-Mart and
Kmart started selling them. The owner of the store was a loser. Had a
drinking problem. Had me pretty much run the business for him while he
recuperated from hangovers. That was his mistake.

He finally ran the business into the ground. I saw it coming, cashed in my
401-K and opened my own sales/service business. That was nearly 10 years
ago. I've had highs (over 5 million in sales for a couple of years) and
lows (like now ;)) and won't trade ANY of it to EVER work for "the man"
again.

All of you can do it, too. There's no magic book to read. No advice you
can glean from anyone here. You just gotta grow some business balls, get
off your ass, and just do it.

--
Jim Fisher

"Greg" <wel...@comcast.net> wrote in message
news:WM6dndBH_-p...@comcast.com...

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