Top 15 Business Mistakes Consultants Make

There are a lot of Top 10 lists out there, some of them focusing on the most common mistakes that small business owners make.  While they contain some good points such as getting the support of your family, establishing a dedicated work space, focusing on good customer service, etc.  Some others are good planning, but may not apply as much to an independent contractor in the software industry, or at least not for your first couple of jobs, such as establishing a good mission statement, and developing a detailed marketing plan.

While these are all relevant and may be important to you at some point in time, I have found that there is another set of common business mistakes that are much more practical, some are even stunning that anyone would commit.  But before we get into my list, I suggest you read my post Doing Business - The Series for a little background.  Now, with that out of the way, following is my list of the Top 15 Mistakes Consultants Make.

  1. Forgetting to bill the client
  2. Losing track of unpaid invoices
  3. Not setting aside money for taxes
  4. Bad contract negotiations / terms - no lawyer
  5. Poor tax records
  6. Setting bill rate too low / Discounting services
  7. Poor estimating / Over-promising
  8. Procrastination
  9. Bad attitude
  10. Lack of market focus (trying to be everything to everyone)
  11. Delaying bad news
  12. Ignoring referrals
  13. No savings for a rainy day
  14. Dependent on a single client.
  15. All tech skills, no soft skills

I will expand on some of these subjects, and when that happens, this article will be updated with links to the more detailed posts.  You may also want to check out the full Doing Business archive for more commentary on doing business right.

And remember, just because you're good at your job (or hobby) doesn't mean you know how to run a business.  Many dot-com failures were cool ideas, maybe even fun hobbies, but not smart businesses.  Many good cooks discover there's a whole lot more than cooking involved in running a restaurant.  Being self-employed is awesome!  It is a fantastic adventure if you do things right more than you do them wrong.  And it's a right we have in the United States that doesn't exist everywhere in the world, so take advantage of it, if you dare.

posted @ Thursday, August 19, 2004 8:24 PM

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# Top 15 Business Mistakes Consultants Make

Left by Ajarn's SQL Corner at 8/19/2004 11:31 PM
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Ever since I started the Doing Business series, I have thought that I should put together a Top 10 list of mistakes people make...but it turned out that 10 wasn't enough.

# Top 15 Business Mistakes Consultants Make

Left by CaldwellBlog at 8/19/2004 11:35 PM
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# re: Top 15 Business Mistakes Consultants Make

Left by Ananth Krishna at 8/20/2004 7:13 AM
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well~ the last one can also be flipped...all soft skills and no tech skills..:)...especially the power point crowd..

# re: Top 15 Business Mistakes Consultants Make

Left by Justin Bigelow at 8/22/2004 11:28 PM
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Those are right on the money. I'm usually guilty of 8 or 9 at any one time. Good article. :)

# re: Top 15 Business Mistakes Consultants Make

Left by Allen Adajar at 8/25/2004 5:16 PM
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I love number 1...

It is so hard to chase up on unpaid services and services made out of the contract.

# This is an outrage!

Left by Ajarn's SQL Corner at 11/5/2004 12:52 PM
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dotRob, Posting someone else's writing as if it were your own is known as plagiarism. Please stop and correct this situation.

# Organizing Your Business - Getting Paid

Left by Ajarn's SQL Corner at 1/21/2005 5:42 PM
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As we rapidly approach the end of the first month of 2005, let's talk about fixing some of those Top 15 Business Mistakes I listed a while back. The first two mistakes on our list are 1) Forgetting to bill the client; and 2) Losing track of unpaid invoices.
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