How much is your time worth? For independent consultants, it’s no philosophical conundrum. They need to put an actual monetary
amount on their work—and it should account
for all of their expenses.
“Simply taking your salary and dividing
it to get a daily or an hourly rate will rarely
prove to be an effective method for forecasting your income or meeting financial needs,”
says David Zahn, president, Zahn Consulting,
a strategic alignment and coaching firm in
Wallingford, Connecticut, USA.
“It assumes that you will be at 100 percent capacity and
that none of the ancillary costs have been factored in,” says Mr.
Zahn, coauthor of How to Succeed as an Independent Consultant—
Fourth Edition [Wiley, 2004].
Those ancillary costs can add up very quickly, says Pattie
Vargas, PMP, The Vargas Group, San Diego, California, USA.
Once you go independent, you’ll be paying for healthcare, marketing, advertising, office overhead, travel, legal fees, insurance,
accounting services, training and certifications.
And while project management consultants typically earn
more than salaried practitioners, they also have a heavier workload, says Marcelo Andrade, PMP, Eficia Consulting, Uberlândia,
To calculate fees, work under the general assumption that
you will be able to sell about 50 percent of your time, not
including weekends, holidays and vacations, Mr. Zahn suggests.
“Choose a fee structure that will meet your annual needs, based
on only being booked half the time.”
He suggests three possible methods to determine what to
charge for your services:
In the grand scheme of things, money is but one factor in
deciding to become a consultant. It just happens that, for many,
it’s the deciding factor.
you get to pick your own clients, you also
have to find them.
“As a consultant, you can never rest
on your laurels,” Ms. DiTullio says. “My
mind runs 24/7, constantly brainstorming
new ideas, ways to create visibility and
channels to land new business. I realize I
can never be complacent or sit back and
assume business will always come my way.
It is a constant search for the next new
Sometimes you don’t have to search
very far. Consulting jobs often come from
current clients, so consultants should try
to leverage their connections.
“Every client you deliver the expected
results for is another part of building a
professional network, members of which
will eventually remember the value of your
work,” Mr. Andrade says.
Nearly all of Ms. Vargas’ business is
based on existing relationships.
“They knew me and the quality of my
work, so they felt comfortable referring
me to their clients or colleagues,” she says.
“Those networks are crucial to gaining
new opportunities and making new intro-
Online resources such as LinkedIn
and Facebook can certainly add to your
network, but never abandon in-person
networking, Mr. Godell suggests.
“The computer is an amazing tool
for connecting throughout the world,”
he says. “But you still have to knock on
doors, shake hands and look eye-to-eye.”
Manage networking as you would a
project. “It should be targeted—don’t
spend time at networking events that don’t
draw your target market or you’ll find it
to be a large time drain,” Ms. Vargas says.
“Likewise, there may be other consultants
who are eager to ‘pick your brain’ about
ideas, opportunities and guidance. Just
as someone helped you, you should be
gracious to them, but beware of too many
meetings like that or your week will be
Ultimately, whether you get jobs will
come down to your performance. Fail to
live up to expectations, and you could find