2016 Year In Review

At the start of 2016, I had a very specific view of where I wanted to go professionally, and a huge sense of possibility. Standing here at the end of 2016, I have a very different view of where I want to go, and what I regard as possible. The months between were a time of difficult choices, strong transitions, and value adjustments, all while maintaining a busy consulting schedule.

2016 was also a big year in terms of producing and shipping projects. Here’s a list of what I shipped in 2016: Keep Reading…

9 Ways To Prepare Your Freelance Business For The New Year

As the year draws to a close, it’s only natural to reflect a bit on what has transpired, and what is yet to come; this is true both in our personal lives and in our businesses. Problem is, far too few freelancers start a new calendar year prepared to do anything different or better than the year before. Let’s see if we can reverse that trend.

Every year over here at Cogeian Systems, I try to take some time to look ahead and make sure to be prepared for what’s coming. Sometimes all it takes is a quiet moment at my laptop with a cup of coffee, and other times it takes a bit more research, but finishing the year strong and having a plan for the new year is always worth the effort.

I’ve distilled my own yearly process into a series of 9 simple steps and questions, broken down into 3 broad categories: Keep Reading…

Full-Focus Consulting: How I Re-Energized Myself & My Business

Once upon a time, I spent many years building up a nice consulting business that was consistently putting 6 figures in my pocket every year. I was very proud of myself.

  • I wasn’t working too many hours.
  • The company wasn’t too big to manage.
  • I didn’t have to book an unreasonable amount of work to make my nut.
  • I liked my clients.
  • I had a great team.

Sure, the workload was a little bit treadmill-y and sure, there was some degree of ebb and flow with receivables, but both of those are pretty typical in consulting, and neither was significant enough to be a real problem. Overall, life was pretty good.

I’ve made it” I thought. “This is exactly the career I’ve always wanted to have“.

Then I began to notice that many of my peers were moving away from consulting and launching products instead. Keep Reading…

Interview: Dealing With Client Conflict (via The Freelance Podcast)

Note: This interview is from early April.

RJ from The Freelance Podcast was invited me on the show again, this time to talk a problem many of us freelancers share – conflict with clients! We talk about how freelancers get themselves into conflict with clients, how some clients are trouble on their own, and some strategies for coping with each. We also cover some of the material from my Conquering Client Conflict course for freelancers.

As always, RJ is a great host doing a great podcast, and I’m flattered to have had a chance to be involved. Head on over and check out the interview!

Dear Client: Stop Asking For A Ballpark Estimate

I like you, client, you’re what makes it possible to do what I love for a living. But I also respect you; you either own a business or occupy a high-enough managerial position within a business to have the authority to hire my team and I, which means you’re all grown up and are way past the point of needing to be handled with kid gloves. So, allow me to indulge in some tough love:

Please, for the sake of your business, stop asking me to give you a ballpark estimate.

It happens to consultants just like me, every day – at some point during a (usually light-on-details) conversation with a very excited client like you, about a new website or custom software that you’ve dreamed up to help you run your business, you’ll ask The Question.

“So, what’s a ballpark estimate of what that would cost?”

I understand why this seems like a perfectly reasonable question, I really do. You have a business to run, and getting a broad sense of what something costs is probably a handy proxy for quickly deciding if it’s something you can handle, or not. I get that – business life often boils down to making decisions quickly, based on broad or even vague information.  Remember, I run a small business, too, so I share a lot of the same concerns you do. Keep Reading…