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today in consulting

Today was off-kilter and kind of awful, mostly for mundane reasons (unclear at this point whether those beat the way-too-interesting reasons my life seems to generate with disturbing frequency). A lot of them involved financial hiccups, the kind of small dollar amounts that a business with a more substantial cushion could likely absorb in the short term, knowing they’d eventually get worked out (one has; the others very likely will).

I don’t have much of a margin, so I really need every single $5 to come in exactly on time and deposit without any holds or fees or whatever. The timing has to be juuuust right or my (meticulously decorated, thank you) house of cards gets REAL SHAKY, real quick.

In some ways this makes for an interesting lesson in how ”profit margin,” a term I see bandied about a lot, can be kind of misleading. Consulting is, right now, turning a profit for me — and in percentages it’s not shabby. Varies month to month and I’m sure a really posh operation would sneer, but somewhere in the 500-600% range, in terms of gross revenue compared with total operating costs. The thing is that 500% of a really small number is still a REALLY SMALL NUMBER. I have very little overhead, so it’s quite easy to make more in a month than the business itself costs to stay operational. But that also means that, while the business pay for ITSELF, it has a much harder time consistently paying for ME — my rent or gas or groceries.

Among the several things I need to do about this:

- adjust my prices (they were way below market for r&a even two years ago, and I haven’t updated them as prices everywhere ELSE have gone up)

- scale back teaching (I would much rather be settling into a nice TT job somewhere, but given the way the tenure system is going I think I’d better acknowledge that I can’t put consulting to one side for the better part of each semester; it essentially means I have to build my client base over every few months, which is of course the kind of engagement strategy I would recommend to nobody else)

- do the same “find your core audience” research project for my own business I would do for a client’s (everybody wants me to make them pretty ads but nobody wants me to do the research that would tell us which ads I should make; ‘sup with that?)

- get some sleep (okay, no … but also yes!! 😂😂)

So: my thoughts after a hard day in the trenches, so to speak. I also had a nice run and made some of my special tuna salad with a tuna pack my daddy sent.

Tell me about your day 👇👇 or hit me up for the recipe, in 👏 the 👏 comments 👏


Jessica Smith
Jessica Smith
Jul 03, 2022

The late payments sound very upsetting. Bad clients!

Replying to

They mostly weren’t trying to inconvenience me, they just got caught in a bind themselves. It was still tough.

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