New book review for Million Dollar Consulting: The Professional's Guide to Growing a Practice, by Alan Weiss, McGraw-Hill, 2009, reposted here:
In his text "Million Dollar Consulting: The Professional's Guide to Growing a Practice", Alan Weiss concentrates on providing advice to those individuals seeking to build a small, private consulting practice. Weiss repeats this refrain on several occasions throughout his discourse here, because as he indicates, a high number of individuals have asked him to expand his training materials over the years to address the growth of the individual practice.
This focus contrasts with works written by David H. Maister, such as "Managing the Professional Service Firm" and "First Among Equals: How to Manage a Group of Professionals" (see my reviews), for example, and Weiss is very explicit as to the reasons behind this focus: "Unless you have a personal objective to build a large firm, surround yourself with the accoutrements of size and mass, and build the equity in the company to the point where you own a valuable business (or a share in one), there is no intrinsic personal financial benefit in linear growth." And "if your objectives are to earn a high income while helping clients to improve their condition - in other words, to support your family and your aspirations while engaging in constructive and valuable work - then your chances of fulfilling this goal are immeasurably greater if you are running your own small firm (small meaning just you or with a few others). You don't have to wait years for a portion of the ownership because you already have all of it. You are not reliant on colleagues' productivity or management's strategic decisions, and you absolutely control how much money you keep."
While this reviewer does not agree with all of the content in this book (for example, the definition that Weiss provides for "B2B"), this book is highly recommended to anyone interested in the subject matter at hand. In addition to the refrain Weiss provides concerning the purpose of this book, the other message that the author repeats is the value of financial reward, which is not an end in itself: "Remember that money is fuel for life and that the real wealth is discretionary time."
This reviewer agrees with some of the other reviewers here in the sense that the author's chapter entitled "Stop Thinking that Time is Money: If you're Charging a Per Diem, You're Still Just Practicing" is among the best in the book. Charging clients based on billable hours rather than the business value that the work creates limits the amount of earnings that one can generate each year: "Fees are based on value, not on your time, which has no intrinsic value to the client. You can always make another dollar, but you can't make another minute." And "if you agree that discretionary time is real wealth, then you can easily see that simply maximizing income, despite personal and family sacrifices, can actually decrease your wealth. Be careful about that."
The chapter entitled "Beyond Success", among the other favorites of this reviewer, provides answers by the authors on the following questions: "Should you charge the highest fees you can get away with?", "Should you travel first class and bill the client?", "Should you borrow others' ideas and present them as your own?", "Should you bill more than one client for the same basic expenses?", "Should you pass on to the client confidential information given you in the course of your assignment?", "Should you use tickets supplied by your client to bring your spouse along?", "Should you accept an assignment from a client's competitor?", "Should you agree to use secret identifying codes on a confidential survey?", "Should you continue to write for a client who passes off your work as his own?", "Should you agree to supplant an alliance partner who introduced you to the client?", and "Am I justified in turning down business from a firm whose practices are reprehensible to me?"
The answer that Weiss provides for this last question is especially interesting. Of the guidelines that he provides, the author's first guideline is to ask whether the activity improves the client's condition or merely one's own. While this reviewer admires Gerald M. Weinberg (see my reviews by this author), his Third Law of Consulting sits in stark contrast with this philosophy, which states: "Never forget they're paying you by the hour, not by the solution." No author has all of the answers, but in the opinion of this reviewer, adding this book to one's reading list along with works by Maister and Weinberg can be an unbeatable combination.