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Consulting to start?

Hi Joel,

You've mentioned that you originally started Fog Creek with the intention of using consulting to supplement your cash flow while you developed your own products.  Would you recommend this approach to a potential start-up with only a little seed capital?

This of course leaves a number of questions about consulting: How should we go about getting clients and marketing ourselves? How do we compete with the big boys (CGI in Montreal)?  What should we charge?  How should we charge (by the hour? by the project?)

Or would we be better off keeping our day jobs and trying to squeeze a project out in the little free time we have?

Sanitised for my protection
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Yes, I still think consulting is the best way to to start a software company.

As for how to market and sell consulting services, well, there are entire books on the subject, and frankly, I'm not very good at it. When we were doing it I sort of felt like I was on a permanent job hunt for 4 people, and sales is not my forte. Not to mention that the market for consulting collapsed soon after we started Fog Creek and is only now recovering.

Should you keep your day jobs? Heck no. It's a hedge and as long as you have it as a safety net you're never going to get your own thing off the ground. Read the Autodesk file -- -- until the founders decided "no more day jobs" they never really got AutoDesk off the ground.

Joel Spolsky
Fog Creek Software
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Whil Hentzen has the best book on software consulting that I've read.  Disclaimer: I've only done small little projects on the side, not consulting as primary source of income.  "Getting started in Consulting" by Weiss is also good.

My biggest hangup right now is leaving the highest paying job I've ever had.

Dan Brown
Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Thanks Joel and Dan. 

Would anyone else like to chime in with book recommendations?

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

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