When I started this business about 3 years ago, it was just me and my wife. I was the only technical person, so the business was going to be mainly me, a solopreneur as they say. I didn’t know if I would grow it larger than just myself, but now I’ve decided that this is just how I want it.
Some business leaders are okay with that, like my current customers, others, not so much so, as they consider it a risk, in that I can’t provide additional support. But, I don’t resell any hardware or software (at least not yet, and don’t so that happening in the foreseeable future), so there is little to support. What I do instead is evaluate and recommend hardware or software for purchase, and work to ensure that it’s implemented to meet the objectives, whether I do the implementation, or work with other vendors.
Because I work alone, I cannot provide extended support beyond the project life. But what I do is work closely with the in-house team to pass on the knowledge of how the systems work, and how to maintain and operate them. I do this using a combination of hands on training during the implementation, and documentation when the project is completed. Sometimes there are a few calls afterwards, but it dies down soon enough once the team is comfortable with the new systems.
In my experience, my clients, and their team, love this approach, as they get to learn new technologies, and new ways of doing things. And what’s more, is that the business benefits, because as they staff learns, the business itself grows, as the staff is more capable than before.
Many consultants don’t like this approach as they believe that it gives away their intellectual property, and prefer to have support contracts instead. I like to think that I’m expanding my expertise. If my clients know as much as I do, then I better keep learning to keep providing value. Keeping a client ignorant is not providing value, and instead diminishes the relationship that you may have.
Some businesses want to have consultants that they can call at any time and get support, and that’s fine, but that’s not what I do. I often take calls from my current clients in cases of emergency or when they are looking for some advice, as I know how difficult working within IT can be sometimes; however, I cannot guarantee that that can always happen. And if a prospect can’t accept that, then it means that we can’t do business together; there are many other consultants out there who can service you.
However, if you want expert advice, quality work, and staff that will develop to support your growing business, then give me a call and let’s talk.