Hello, I am Matt Feldmann, the principal researcher and owner of Goshen Education Consulting, Inc. (http://www.goshenedu.com). My company focuses on educational evaluation and data support for clients in Southern Illinois. As a company of one I have to do a lot of balancing (aka “hat wearing”) to support the many activities that go with coordinating my small business.
Lessons Learned: There are three broad project categories you need to balance: (1) Development, (2) Management, and (3) Administration.
- Project development is the identification of potential evaluation projects. These activities may include marketing your efforts to potential clients, assistance with writing proposals, and other general networking activities. If you don’t have new work, you don’t have a business.
- Project management concerns the coordination of your current funded projects which includes contract development, billing, and meeting with clients to coordinate activity and discuss evaluation results. If you don’t get paid and coordinate relationships with your current clients you will not be sustainable.
- Project administration is the conduct of your evaluation that may include data collection, organization, editing, and reporting. This is often seen as the primary activity for evaluators, but it can’t be the only activity if you want to continue as an independent consultant.
Hot Tip: You can’t spend all of your time on project administration and expect to keep an independent consulting business going. Like the often used three-legged stool analogy, you must be prepared to spend time in each of the project activities: development, and management, in addition to administration.
Hot Tip: Every project you work on is an opportunity to develop a new project. Gail Barrington suggests in her Consulting Start-Up and Management book that it is likely that your next project will come from a current client. Further, excellent performance on your current project may result in a recommendation to a new client.
Hot Tip: Go see your clients. The physical act of meeting with your client promotes trust and goodwill. This opportunity to develop your relationship may result in unexpected additional work.
Rad Resources: The following are two excellent books that I have used extensively in support of my balancing act:
Consulting Start-Up and Management (http://www.barringtonresearchgrp.com/consulting-start-up-and-management.html) by Gail Barrington outlines a great guide for how to develop an evaluation or applied research independent practice.
Getting Started in Consulting (http://summitconsulting.com/store/getting-started-info.php) by Alan Weiss is a great general book about how to initiate a consulting practice.
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