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Become an Independent Product Management Consultant
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Become an Independent Product Management Consultant

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Contrary to popular belief, you don't need to be an employee to do some of the most interesting product work in Silicon Valley. ...

Contrary to popular belief, you don't need to be an employee to do some of the most interesting product work in Silicon Valley.

So, if you LOVE product management and product marketing work, but...

* you want to see your family more
* you want to learn more in one year than you have in the past five
* you want to have a bigger impact on the industry, and work with several interesting companies in a year
* you're inherently entrepreneurial and want to control your own destiny
* BUT you want to do all this without sacrificing your pay

... then come learn how to become an independent product management consultant. Someone who's done it, a been-there-done-that PM consultant, will guide you step-by-step through what you need to do to strike out on your own within 2 months.

We'l cover a 12 step process of exactly what you need to do to set up shop, land your first client, do an incredible job for your clients, and manage your business going forward.

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  • Great presentation. Because of my area of expertise I have people asking me about PM consulting. Thinking about making the leap.
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  • I am considering PM Consultancy and this was spot on..
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Become an Independent Product Management Consultant Become an Independent Product Management Consultant Presentation Transcript

  • “GET A LIFE”HOW TO BECOME AN INDEPENDENTPRODUCT MANAGEMENT CONSULTANTSusan Raisty-Egamisraisty@sureproductconsulting.comwww.sureproductconsulting.com/IndyProductPro
  • This powerpoint is just the beginning…  This powerpoint is just the first of many (webinars, ebooks, online courses) on how to become a successful Independent Consultant in Product Management or Product Marketing.  Sign up to be notified when I release new resources:  www.sureproductconsulting.com/IndyProductPro  Help us create content that answers your biggest questions! Tell me what you want to learn:  www.sureproductconsulting.com/IndyProductPro/survey2 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • My background  Owner of Sure Product Consulting, Inc.  PM & PMM consultancy, started in 11/2007  Product Focus  Software and online services  B2B  Very technical products. “Big Data”, cloud, virtualization, server architectures  Areas of Specialty (and Intellectual Property)  Product Definition  Product Feedback / User Experience Analysis  Competitive analysis  Technical marketing collateral33 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Why I’m Giving This Presentation  Make more companies aware of existence of independent PM & PMM consultants  Indy PM/PMM Pros usually cooperate and don’t compete  Help usher in a “meritocracy era” in product work  Recognition of the “10x PM”  Stop the “brain drain” where talented PMs and PMMs leave the profession far too early4 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • The Challenge Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc. 3/28/2012
  • The challenges for many PM & PMMs Do YOU face these challenges?  Balancing work with family  Learning velocity has leveled out  Lack of career path  Compensation doesn’t reflect your value  Corporate nonsense  Dealing with career blips6 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • My story  Ask me about it in person.  I’m not prepared to put it on the Internet forever.7 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • My wish listNeeded Wanted Interesting product work  Bigger impact on clients & Situation would allow industry outstanding performance  More learning & challenge Schedule flexibility  Compensation ($$$) Limited hours & more time commensurate with value with family  No political nonsense Rarely travel  Work primarily from home Keep my resume current &  Control my own destiny employableCopyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc. 3/28/2012
  • Independent Consulting Sounded Good, but How?  How to form a company?  What kind of projects should I do?  How to find clients?  What about health insurance?  How to land projects with those  How to market myself? clients?  How to make sure I don’t run afoul  What should I charge? of the law or IRS?  How to structure projects?  How to make sure clients paid the  How to sell? bills?  Would I be any good at this?  How to leave my employer gracefully?  Was there really a market for independent PM?  What about maternity leave?  What would I do without  Who did I need to hire? corporate benefits/perks?  Would I get pigeon-holed into  Would I be lonely? boring projects?  Did it make financial sense?  How to be “professional”?  …Would I be happy? Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • I took the plunge in late 2007. Today…  …Again, ask me about my results in person. I am not prepared to publish it to the Internet forever.  The Summary:  I got all my Needs and Wants from the previous slide  I am very happy with my decision, my career, and my work life balance.10 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • What I learned Much of the “common wisdom” about independent consulting is great. But a lot of the “common wisdom” is. incorrect out of date not applicable for high tech not applicable for product work not applicable if your primary goal is family flexibility I had to learn the hard way and by learning from others11 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Consulting Income as Function of Years in Business  Survey by Women In Consulting shows a dramatic uptick in consulting income between year 3 and year 7.   There’s a lot of learning, systemizing, and networking that come together after a few years12 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Common Struggles You Can Minimize But not Eliminate  Feast or famine cycles  Economic cycles impact projects  Slow client payment  Intellectual property issues  Prospecting and sales effort that doesn’t pan out  Pricing projects incorrectly  Making bad business deals  Bad tax planning  Drowning in administrative yuk13 3/28/2012
  • When should you NOT go independent?  You have no skill or experience in the area you want to consult on  Financial  You want to buy a house soon, and need your income to qualify for the mortgage  You have no emergency fund savings  Health Insurance  You can’t get group health insurance through your partner, and  A “Cobra” policy isn’t possible or is impossibly expensive, and  Someone in your family has a chronic health condition  It doesn’t suit your personality  Your partner is against it14 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • How to Take the Plunge Become an Independent Product Consultant within 2 months … just what you need … none of the nonsense you don’t …don’t spend $$ until you mustCopyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc. 3/28/2012
  • Disclaimer 16 I am not an attorney, tax advisor, or financial advisor. GET YOUR OWN. Please consult with real professionals. I’m just telling you what I’ve done and what many people I know have done and experienced. But because we are all unique little snowflakes, your situation is PROBABLY vastly, extremely, incredibly different. So don’t just do what I did. If you do try out the things I did, and they don’t work or get you into trouble, do not sue me. Get your own advisors and then sue them instead. Also, this material is applicable to doing business in CALIFORNIA, specifically within the laws of San Mateo & Santa Clara County, and within the culture of Silicon Valley. Please check with your own city, county, state, and country for the laws that will govern your business.16 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Product Folk Make Great Independent Consultants  Entrepreneurial and passionate by nature  Have broad networks of people across lots of functions  Versed in business and are multi-skilled  Focused on creating value for the customer  Can deal with ambiguity  Smart  Good listeners  Integrity  A touch of ADD17 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • The Quick Start “Lean Consulting” Steps  1. Soul searching  2. Test out concepts for consulting offerings  3. Establish a bare-bones business presence  4. Develop social proof & proof of competence  5. Find leads  6. Identify a project & submit proposal  7. Close the deal  8. Post-close admin stuff  9. Do the project and BE AWESOME  10. Keep selling, for the next project  11. Finish the project, get paid, collect references  12. Pay your taxes & keep your books18 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Step 1. Soul Searching  Why do you want to go independent?  What are you good at?  What “pieces” of product work are you best at?  Where do you have the potential to be one of the best in the industry?  What type of work do you really like to do?  (You can change your mind later)19 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Step 1. What are you good at? What do you like?2020 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Step 1. Your “Golden Intersection” What you’re really good at What you like to do What the market wants21 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Step 1. Which model do you prefer? Independent Independent Contractor Consultant  Which best fits your wants/needs?  Which best fits the types of work in your “Golden Intersection”?22 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc. 3/28/2012
  • Step 1. Example: my golden intersection  Independent Consulting: Fixed price engagements  Tech-heavy products  Favorite projects  Product Definition.  Customer Development  Requirements / user stories  UEx Interaction Design  Product strategy & planning, road-mapping  Product Feedback / User Experience Analysis  Competitive analysis  Technical marketing collateral  …But I’ll do other stuff, really!23 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • A step back…. …How consulting projects are usually sold  Nearly 100% are from personal referrals.  The actual buyer often does not know you personally, but is introduced by someone who does (“friend of a friend”)  The actual buyer then researches the consultant online to ensure:  1) professionalism  2) competence & knowledge – overall and domain-specific  Sources used: Google, your website, LinkedIn, Facebook, Quora, etc….  Random visitors to your website almost never become clients.24 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Step 2. Start Testing Your Consulting Concept  Ask your network for advice and informational interviews  Ask for feedback on your strengths  Feedback on your “golden intersection” concepts  Ask for their Market Problems, other problems  Try to HELP THEM  At the very least, feed them25 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Step 2. Expand that Network  Ask interviewees if they know anyone else you should talk to for advice & feedback  Don’t talk only to PM / PMM specialists  Connect with other consultants & ask for advice26 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Step 3. Establish a Bare-Bones Business Presence  When you are getting started, my “advice” is to stick with the “Sole Proprietorship” type of entity  Do NOTHING TYPES OF BUSINESS ENTITIES • Sole Proprietorship (the default) • Partnership • LLC • Corporation o S-Corp o C-Corp  You can switch later27 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Step 3. Establish a Bare-Bones Business Presence  Determine Your Business Name  Is anyone else is using the name?  California State Secretary of State. http://kepler.sos.ca.gov/  Fictitious Names lookup for your county  Consider delaying filing Fictitious Name statements until you land a project ($$)  Register an Internet Domain Name ($)  Consider renting a physical mailbox (not a PO Box) ($$)28 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Step 3. Do You Need a Fictitious Name Statement (in California)? Business Name (assuming Sole P) Needs Fictitious Name Statement? Susan K. Raisty-Egami No Susan Raisty-Egami Marketing No Raisty-Egami User Experience Design No Raisty-Egami Associates Yes Raisty-Egami Product Group Yes The Product Goddess Yes Sue’s Product Marketing Mavens Yes Raisty-Egami, Newton, and Darwin • No, if real partnership of Raisty-Egami, Newton, and Darwin • Yes, if sole proprietorship In Santa Clara County, must file a Fictitious Name Statement within 40 days of first transaction.29 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Step 4. Develop social proof and proof of authority  Ask your colleagues for LinkedIn testimonials  Focus on your RESULTS, the before/after  You interview them and then write it up for them  Reciprocate!  Get a website with a blog, and a business email address  Publish testimonials, sample work product, blog posts  Wordpress & Google Mail  Contribute to LinkedIn Groups & Quora  Republish your answers to your blog and LinkedIn Profile30 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Step 5. Find some leads  Continue with advice gathering & informational interviews  Tell everyone you’re independent now (In-person, Call, Email, Facebook, LinkedIn)  Ask for connections  Seek out companies looking for PM / PMM full-time hires  Connect with PMM / PM leaders over LinkedIn  Go on interviews for “real” jobs  Lists, Forums, LinkedIn groups: where people ask for referrals to consultants or contractors31 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Step 5. Find some leads (cont’d)  Connect with “consulting clearing houses”  Crimson Consulting, Stage 4 Solutions, M-Squared, …  KITlist, KITlistTech, Craigslist, job lists  Speaking at “target-rich” un-conferences  Pitching the booth staff at technical conferences  Cold calling  LinkedIn “IN Mails” …Later, you’ll do marketing that will mean you won’t have to do much of this. But you need to land your first project now… … and the marketing takes 6+ months to see results32 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Step 5. Turn Leads Into Prospects  FOLLOW UP!!!  “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” - Woody Allen33 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Step 6. Identify a Project  “Project conversation” with the prospect  Outcomes sought, time frames, who/what else are they considering, the value this project will provide them  Biggest concerns they have, risks they see  Who else they need to approve  DO THEY HAVE BUDGET  LISTEN34 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Step 6. Give a verbal half-proposal  Your understanding of the situation  The project objectives, results they seek  What you propose doing to help  Time frame, start date, & other considerations  (Price)35 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Step 6. Follow it up with a Written Proposal  Situation Appraisal  Objectives  Value to <CLIENT NAME>  Methodology & Deliverable Options   Present 3 options!  For each. value provided, intermediate deliverables, timelines, price  Terms & Conditions  “I own my stuff and you license it” vs. “You own it as work-for-hire”  We are an independent contractor, not an employee  Payment terms (e.g.. “net 30”) & payment schedule  Prepayment incentives / discounts  Expenses & subcontractors  Guarantee  Cancellation policy, Late fees, Collection costs,  Right to use logos, publish as client  Acceptance – choose option, plus signatures36 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Step 6. Pricing  A complicated topic  In general, attempt “Value-based” Pricing and fixed price projects  Other methods for hourly rates.  Method 1. Determine what market will bear, what others are charging  Method 2. Always charge AT LEAST what it would cost client to have an employee do it  = fully_loaded_compensation $ / 1880 hours/year  “Fully loaded” = salary + payroll taxes + workers comp + insurance benefits + 401K benefit + stock options + ESOP + office space + equipment + training + ….  Method 3. Take your annual salary, divide by 1000, and use that as a minimum hourly rate.  $180,000 annual salary  $180/hour  Accounts for 88% overhead37 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Step 6:  Strongly consider offering a 5-10% discount of all project fees if the client prepays up front.38 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Step 6. Contract Language in Written Proposal  Consider hiring an attorney to create “standard” contract language for you.  Guarantees you might offer  Work for hire vs. licensed content  Your NDA  Hire an attorney with.  Background in contracts, NDAs  A focus on small business and independent consultants  Used to contracts with your type of clients  $$$$$39 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Step 7. Close the deal  Go over the proposal with client in-person or on phone  Feel out their option preferences & why  Revise proposal within hours, if necessary  Get signatures on your proposal  Make sure YOU sign it too40 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Step 7. Close It The Secret of Closing Deals: Follow Up!41 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Step 7. Close the deal (Handle Client’s Paperwork)  Sign NDAs  Provide client with signed W-9, with your SSN  Negotiate & sign the client’s agreement for consulting / contracting agreement  Watch-out:  Insurance requirements  Worker’s comp proof  Payment terms  Right to cancel without paying  Non-compete clauses  Prohibiting subcontractors42 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Step 7. Determine Next Steps  Agree on a start date and the structure of the first day  What you need  Meetings that should be set43 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Step 8. Post-close Admin stuff  NOW… do all that stuff that you delayed while your were selling  Rent a mailbox ($$)  File Fictitious Name with your county ($)  Have 40 days from first transaction in SC County  Publish Fictitious Name notice in “newspaper” for 4 weeks ($)  Secure a “Home Occupation” business license from city ($$$)  Get Business Liability Insurance ($$$)  Maybe get Errors &Omissions insurance ($$$$)  Get business bank account & business credit card  (need proof of business license)44 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Step 8. Post-Close Admin: Get Geared Up  Get a laptop: as much memory & disk as you can afford  Bare minimum software:  With antivirus & firewall (I use ESET Smart Security)  Dropbox  Microsoft Office (Word, PPT, Excel)  “System Care” program  Remember, you have no IT department anymore!  (Does the Apple Genius Bar count as an IT department?)45 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Step 9. Do the Project & Be Awesome  Lay out “rules of engagement”  What you need from them  How often to notify of status  If you talk to your client’s customers, how do you represent yourself?  Over-communicate  Run meetings so client can make decisions quickly  Top quality deliverables  Be uber-professional  Make them happy, make it right.46 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Step 10. Keep Selling  It often takes 3 weeks to 4 months to close deals.  So you have to keep networking & SELLING at all times  Set aside 20%+ of time47 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Step 11. Finish Project, Get Paid & Get Referrals  On the specified invoice dates, create & email invoices to your clients  Clients are VERY OFTEN late to pay. Call promptly!  At project close, get a testimonial from client  Have client talk about selves, their problems, why they sought your help…  Then the results you provided.  Not the HOW  Not character references48 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Step 12. Taxes & Bookkeeping  Keep ALL your receipts for anything even vaguely business related  Mileage records of any car trip for business purposes, gas, auto repairs  Home office. utility bills, property tax, mortgage interest, home owners insurance, home repairs, home remodel receipts, housecleaners, …  Cell phone, internet  Hire a Tax Advisor / CPA  Bookkeeping – keep track of invoices, bills, receipts49 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Step 12. Taxes & Bookkeeping  Pay Your Fed/State Taxes  Pay Estimated Quarterly payments (if sole proprietor) to Fed & State  April 15, June 15, Sept 15, Jan 15  Collect 1099-MISCs from clients at year end  By April 15, file 1040 with Schedule C  Schedule SE – self employment tax calculation  Form 8829 if Home Office Deduction  Form 4562 for Auto deductions  You will likely pay higher taxes: “Payroll Taxes”  Employer’s share of Social Security, Medicare  Up to 7.65% Fed + $437/yr California50 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Step 12. Taxes & Bookkeeping  Other Taxes  California. File annual “Use Tax” return  San Francisco:  1.5% Payroll Expense tax  Plus an annual tax on business personal property (your desk, your laptop, …)  Business License renewal51 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • 52 Wrap Up Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc. 3/28/2012
  • Get Started Right Now  1. Make a list of all the types of consulting projects you 1. 53 could do where:  You are very skilled and know what to do  You enjoy the work  You suspect there’s a market  2. Arrange for coffee / lunch with THREE people you trust  Get their feedback and advice  Ask for introduction to other people you should talk to53 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Advanced Topics, for another day Developing “Standard” Offerings  Cultivating loyal clients & Intellectual Property  Advanced Marketing Pricing  Taking equity as payment Value-based Selling  Delinquent accounts Small Business Finance. Taxes,  Home Office (or not) Bookkeeping, Cash flow  Becoming a recognized expert Hiring sub-contractors  Social Media marketing Hiring employees  Speaking & evangelism Clients on retainer  Self-Employed Retirement Changing to an LLC or Accounts Corporation  Health & Other Benefits Developing intellectual property & products  Social mediaCopyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc. 3/28/2012
  • Want more?  This powerpoint is just the first of many (webinars, ebooks, online courses) on how to become a successful Independent Consultant in Product Management or Product Marketing.  Sign up to be notified when I release new resources:  www.sureproductconsulting.com/IndyProductPro  Help us create content that answers your biggest questions! Tell me what you want to learn:  www.sureproductconsulting.com/IndyProductPro/survey55 3/28/2012 Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc.
  • Copyright 2012 Sure Product Consulting, Inc. THE END Thank for listening, and for not throwing tomatoes.3/28/2012