How to Become a Consultant (596 words)
By Denny Hatch
It's rough out there. Dot-coms going under. Layoffs everywhere. Stock market's going south. What's a person to do?
All through the 1960s and early 1970s I worked for people who threatened to fire me if they caught me moonlighting. I was suitably scared and served as a non-moonlighting slave at slave's wages. (I earned $90 a week in 1960; in 1961 I was making $6,000 a year.)
If I had it to do again, I would moonlight up a storm—gain the extra experience and grab the extra money. More to the point, I would have fireproofed myself—had some income if I were ever to get fired. And I got fired a lot—nine jobs in my first 12 years of working! It makes no never mind whether it's called reorganization, elimination of a position, a lay-off or being fired. When you're outta work, you're outta work.
One week in 1976 my wife, Peggy, and I bought a new car on Wednesday, a new piano on Thursday, and I was fired on Friday. I had been working for companies all my life and despised the entire business. So I decided to become a freelancer.
I called Bob Teufel, then circulation director of a major publishing house and asked what he thought of the idea. Teufel kindly invited me for a drink and gave me two pieces of advice:
1. Always go first class. Clients and prospective clients like to do business with people who have an aura of success. Wear nice clothes, Teufel told me. Drive a nice car. Take clients to nice restaurants. When I told Peggy, she said, "I can live with that."
2. Do not over-promise. Never guarantee delivery of two or more jobs on the same day. Even out your workflow. Otherwise, you'll miss deadlines and wind up with ticked-off clients who will never use you again.