I just read through Steve Friedl’s So you want to be a consultant article on unixwiz.net. He conveys a lot about the consultant business that, upon reflection, correlates strongly with my own experience. One of the keystones of his advice is that customer relation skills is their biggest asset:
The single biggest surprise to prospective consultants is when I suggest that their technical skills will not be their biggest asset. Those skills are required, of course, and often help get you in the door, but the long-term customer relationships on which a consultant depends are built on one thing only: Consulting maxim: You must give the customer The Warm Fuzzy Feeling™
It sounds lame, but it’s absolutely true; people like to feel good about who’s working for them. Flip it the other way around, when you’re hiring someone for yourself, and you’d feel the same way.
Friedl also relates some of his insights into taxes and billing along the way, but this is not the primary thrust of the article. If I were to sum it up, I might call it “Do the Right Thing” consulting. You can read the article here. Via Slashdot.