Avoid common mistakes

Seann Maxwell, a Bellevue, Wash., consultant to consultants who has 25 years of experience, has identified mistakes consultants commonly make. Here are some of them.

- Failing to Develop a Tangible Service.

An intangible service, such as a market study, doesn't pay dividends until well after the purchase is made. On the other hand, a tangible service, like computer consulting, delivers at the time of purchase.

- Ignoring Gut Feelings.

You'll be working with this client for a long time, so you've got to like the company and the individuals you're dealing with, says Maxwell, who has found that not heeding his instincts leads to problems down the line.

- Failing to Get It in Writing.

Always document the scope of the work, the schedule, the terms of payment and the like in a written agreement signed by both parties.

- Spending Too Much Time on One Client.

When you spend more than 50 percent of your time on one client or project, says Maxwell, you lose flexibility, objectivity and independence. Devoting too much time to one client also puts your business in jeopardy should the client leave or the contract end.

- Taking Clients for Granted.

This is a highly competitive market, with new consultants entering the field all the time. Don't rest on your laurels. Constantly work to stay abreast of clients' changing needs, trends in their industries and new ways to service them.

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