Vicki James, PMP, CBAP, PMI-PBA, CSM

formerly of Professional Project Services, LCC

Be a Master, Not a Jack – Business to Business Consulting

You have probably heard the expression “a jack of all trades, a master of none.” It is not a compliment, so hopefully nobody has said this about you. Generally, this comment is about those people who try to do everything, even things they may necessarily be skilled at. I recall when my dad and a “buddy” decided to take down a tree in our back yard and it landed in the middle of Ruddell Road. Luckily, no cars or people were hit.

As small business owners, we want to be a jack of all trades to save money. But does it work that way? Two factors to consider are the value of our own time and the risk that something could go wrong. Think about it. Do you change the oil in your car yourself? Do you clean your own teeth?

How much is your time worth? We never seem to have enough time or money. Do you know how much money your time is worth? If you are deferring billable time for that other task, then your charge rate applies. For every hour you are working on administrative tasks, such as your company books, you are losing that money. Admittedly, we probably are not doing the books in place of work that we can bill to a client. We are spending our “off time” doing these administrative things. At what cost? Do you have enough time for your family, friends, and yourself? My housekeeping is seriously neglected as a result of my “off work” work. Don’t expect an invite to my home office for a meeting.

There are many factors to considering when putting a price tag on your time. Hours spent doing client work, time available and spent with family and friends, the amount of sleep you need to function well. What I found helpful is to a put a dollar value on every hour of my work. Only you can decide the dollar amount. I recommend putting that thought aside until I can finish my case here.

Here is how it works. My time is worth $50 an hour to me . That means I am willing to pay myself $50 for every hour I save. I now have a task for developing a flyer for an upcoming Lunch to Learn series for local business. I can probably pull something together that I am happy with within three hours, add another hour for editing after proof and the cost to me for the design is $200. A quick search on the internet tells me that I can expect to pay at least $500 to have one designed. At first glimpse, it appears designing my own brochure is the best way to go.

This is where risks of something going wrong has to play into the decision. Several things could go wrong

  • I use a horrible combinations of colors that make it so no one wants to read the brochure
  • I find that I actually spent 10 hours designing away ($500 value) and still not satisfied with the way it looks (more money)
  • I discover that the way I formatted it means I cannot fold it as I intended and still have the pages in the right order

The point in doing a brochure is to market a service. All of this time will be a complete waste if the result is not people reading the brochure and deciding to take part in the event. That is a lot to lose. Hiring a design professional will cut these risks and give a better quality product in the end. I know this first hand from a past job. I designed a brochure to promote a service my then employer offered. I spent a lot of time on it and was pretty happy with the result. When I shared this with management, they liked the idea and the content, but insisted on sending to their graphics design firm. The result was amazing. Instead of feeling that someone had taken over my project, I felt extremely proud to have contributed to a fantastic marketing tool. In truth, the money spent on professional design was time well spent and gave the company a better image.

Here is another quick example for you. I knew I needed a logo when I first went into business myself in 2010. I didn’t know any graphics artists and I assumed I wouldn’t be able to afford one even if I did. I set off to design my logo. I found an online tool to help develop a logo. Developing the logo through the site was free, but downloading a printable copy cost $25. I spent about 5 hours playing with various looks and colors and ended up downloading two versions, total cost $50. I ended up not pursing my business until a year and a half later. I cringe when I now look at that logo. I know many more people today than I did then due to extensive networking. I contact Kraken Design and said, “I need a logo”. One quick meeting, two weeks, and about $500 later (prices may vary), I now have a new logo. Can you tell the $50 logo from the $500 logo?

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Preston Porter of Kraken Design is a master of graphics design. I clearly am not. If I want to look like a master in consulting then I need to rely on people like Preston and their expertise so that I can be credible in my community by looking good as well as save valuable time. I can put this new-found time growing my business in other ways, such as writing this article.

When you need help in the administrative functions of managing your business you will bring much more value to your company by hiring a master to help you. Network to meet wonderful web designers, graphic designers, accountants, legal help, organizational development help, human resource experts, and others who have become a master in their trade and want to do great work for you. You might even score some new clients or leads in the process.

Hint – the orange round logo is the $500 one.

Image: imagerymajestic /

3 responses to “Be a Master, Not a Jack – Business to Business Consulting

  1. Pingback: Be a Master, Not a Jack – Business to Business Consulting « PMChat

  2. events in nyc February 29, 2012 at 4:20 pm

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