The Society of Professional Consultants

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The purpose of this blog is to provide information to help consultants and solo professionals. Please contact us if you're an active SPC member willing to provide content for our blog. 

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  • Saturday, November 27, 2021 1:40 PM | Martin Kadansky

    Please note that I'm not an accountant nor a tax expert, but I feel that this information is important to share with anyone running a business.

    The IRS has temporarily increased the tax deduction for many (but not all) business meal expenses from 50% to 100%.

    This change applies to:
    - business meal expenses from 1/1/2021 through 12/31/2022
    - that are also from qualified restaurants.

    The IRS defines a restaurant that qualifies for this 100% business deduction as one that prepares and sells food or beverages to retail customers for immediate consumption, either on or off the premises.

    As far as I understand it, this includes the following types of business meals and vendors:
    - dine-in from restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, pizza shops, bakeries, etc.,
    - take out,
    - delivered directly from a restaurant,
    - and from restaurant meal delivery services, e.g., Doordash, Grubhub, Postmates, Uber Eats, etc.

    A non-qualifying restaurant (for which business meal expenses will remain at the longstanding 50% deduction) sells pre-packaged food or beverages not for immediate consumption, including:
    - grocery stores and markets, e.g., Star Market, Stop & Shop, Roche Brothers
    - convenience stores, e.g., Store 24, 7-Eleven
    - theater concession stands, e.g., Boston Symphony, Roxy Theatre
    - vending machines or kiosks, e.g., Leanbox
    - specialty food stores
    - beer, wine, or liquor stores
    - drug stores
    - newsstands

    The good news

    - This will probably lower your federal taxes by increasing your deductible business expenses.
    - Since Massachusetts automatically adopts federal changes to business meals and entertainment expenses, this will probably lower your state taxes as well.

    For more information, see the IRS web page:

    or google: 100% restaurant deduction 2021

    And, if you haven't already, I also suggest that you talk to your accountant soon about this (and the many other recent tax law changes) to find out how your personal and business taxes and deductions may be affected.

    Martin Kadansky
    Kadansky Consulting, Inc.

  • Friday, November 19, 2021 3:29 PM | Laura Burford

    Which of the 5 Basic Consulting Pricing Models is the Right Model for YOU?

    Boy, I wish when a consultant or freelancer asks questions about pricing, I had a quick and easy answer, but I don’t. I don’t have a secret formula that crunches numbers or a magic wand to flick that displays a number.

    I wish I did because just maybe I would never be disappointed when an engagement isn’t as profitable as I would have liked. Or just maybe I wouldn’t struggle to determine the right price to quote.

    What I have learned is that when determining a price, it is important to use the right pricing model. There are five basic pricing models from which to choose. Each model has pros and cons and there are variations of each as well.

    This article provides an overview of each of the five basic pricing models: time and expense, fixed price, value-base, risk-reward, and retainer. Use the posting as a guideline to help you determine the model or models that are right for you.


    Some people believe there is one right pricing model, but I don’t agree. I believe a consultant needs to decide what is the right pricing model for them

    • based on the situation and the consultant’s service offering or approach,
    • the client’s pricing requests, and
    • the consultant’s comfort level with a particular model.

    Two of the models are cost-based models: time and expense, and fixed price. This means that the price you determine is based on the cost of the services to you. This requires having a solid hourly rate or hourly cost that can be used as a basis for determining a price to quote.

    The other three models are service oriented models: value-base, risk-reward, and retainer. You determine the price based on the value of the services you provide to the client.

    Let’s dive into each of the models in more detail.


    This article is too long to post on the Society of Professional Consultants site.

    Here is a friendly link to the article.

  • Saturday, November 13, 2021 10:39 AM | Deleted user

    In your professional life, you are successful. You are moving up in the ranks of your organization. Or you are frequently the “go to” person when your boss needs something done well. Maybe you’ve achieved the rank or salary that you’ve always dreamed about. Yet you still feel like a fraud. As if one day, your boss, or your colleagues, or your clients will see that you really don’t know what you’re doing...even though there is no evidence to support this belief. Then there are people you know who clearly don’t know what they are doing in their roles. They pretend to know information. They find ways to make others do their work because they don’t have the skills to finish projects and tasks. They project confidence in regards to tasks that they have no ability to be successful with. 

    The irony is that imposters rarely experience imposter syndrome.

    Read that sentence again. What does that mean for you? If you are experiencing imposter syndrome, guess what? You are very likely not an imposter.

    What is imposter syndrome? 

    Imposter syndrome is a feeling created by thoughts. These thoughts are never based in reality and, instead, grow from insecurities, fears and self-doubt. The thoughts are not supported by facts. Once the thoughts occur, they create the feeling of being a fraud. You question whether you can live up to others’ expectations. You compare yourself to others in unrealistic ways and come up lacking. You doubt your abilities, skills, education, training and background in regards to effectively and successfully functioning in your role.

    Once imposter syndrome settles in, it blocks your ability to function at your best. You focus on proving yourself rather than doing a task well. You fixate on how to show others you aren’t an imposter which inhibits logical thinking and creative thinking. You stop trying new things and taking reasonable risks. You might even begin to pull away from people in your life because you are either obsessing over how to do things better or avoiding others so they don’t discover you are a fraud. Overall, you end up feeling stressed, anxious and unsatisfied with who you are and what you do.

    Why do you feel imposter syndrome?

    In large part, you experience imposter syndrome because of who you are. Individuals like you who are used to setting goals, working diligently towards those goals, learning and growing to challenge themselves and expecting eventual success are the ones prone to imposter syndrome. Why? To start, highly motivated, driven individuals like you tend to work around other highly motivated, driven individuals. When you compare yourself to those around you, it can create self-doubt because the standard is high. 

    Another reason might be your personality. Maybe you identify as a perfectionist. You are striving to do things to the best of your ability, but then you question whether you’ve done all you could. By setting up these unrealistic standards, you never attain success because the definition keeps changing. Or you might feel inadequate so you work as hard as you can to overcompensate for this feeling. Maybe you are trying to be the expert and by establishing this as your goal, you attempt to learn everything but are never satisfied that you know enough. You tend to downplay your knowledge and your expertise. For many, it is a combination of all three factors which contribute to imposter syndrome. The reality is that if you are feeling like a fraud you’ve had some measure of success in your life. You are either afraid of losing the success or, more likely, you discount the success to luck.

    Why don’t the actual imposters feel imposter syndrome?

    Those people who don’t experience imposter syndrome are imposters for any number of reasons:

    • they haven’t experienced success so they have nothing to lose; 

    • they have a delusional perception of themselves, sometimes believing their own lies or twisted interpretations of reality;

    • they are genuine con artists or narcissists. 

    Imposters present as incredibly confident. When we are around them, we get sucked into their lies, sometimes never doubting them. When we do question them, they support their lies in stronger ways, leaving us questioning why we doubted them.

    Overall, imposters are willing to exaggerate their skills in interviews or on resumes, embellish or create stories about their backgrounds, or put themselves in the spotlight to get the attention and status they want. When they are discovered as the imposters they are, they tend to react in two ways — with aggression or defensiveness, or by disappearing, removing themselves from the situation in which their lack of ability was called out.

    What strategies can you use to manage imposter syndrome?  

    The good news is if you don’t see yourself in that description, you aren’t an imposter. What you are feeling is common in highly intelligent, very skilled, motivated individuals. If you’re feeling imposter syndrome, that alone is a sign you aren’t a fraud. 

    The next step is learning how to manage your imposter syndrome so it doesn’t undermine your functioning. Imposter syndrome is based on illogical thoughts so to stop those thoughts, give your brain the facts. Consider your education and training. Reflect on positive feedback you’ve received from colleagues or supervisors. These become the evidence to replace the irrational thoughts. Also identify situations in which you’ve been successful. Write these down. Ask yourself what you did to effectively produce in those situations, then do those things again. If they worked once, they’ll likely work again. Write those down, too. Then, define what success looks like to you and, you guessed it, write this down. This becomes your standard. When your imposter syndrome tries to convince you that you aren’t successful, use your definition to keep you grounded in reality rather than trying to achieve perfection. 

    How can you benefit from imposter syndrome? 

    By acknowledging your imposter syndrome, and learning how to manage it, you can move on to using it as a tool towards your success. You’ve done the first step by reflecting on what your strengths are, what makes you unique and how you are qualified for what you do. You can even review all these details because you wrote them down for this purpose. Next, use the adrenalin that comes from imposter syndrome to benefit you. Instead of assuming the physiological responses that accompany imposter syndrome are due to anxiety, nerves or fear, think of them as signs of excitement, enthusiasm and preparedness. Finally, imposter syndrome tends to come up in times when you are feeling uncertain or your skills are being challenged — that’s great! It means you are moving beyond your comfort zone where growth can occur.

    When you look around and compare yourself to the brilliant, talented people surrounding you, it might be time to realize that you are one of them, rather than seeing yourself as an anomaly. You were selected to be part of the group because you fit in, because your talents were needed and your successes were recognized. And when you notice someone who is grabbing the attention, reminding everyone of their accomplishments and sticking with completely wrong statements, you might take note of the true imposter in the room.

  • Tuesday, November 09, 2021 2:17 PM | Anonymous

    Your brand is about more than your company’s logo, tagline, or brand colors. Anything you write on behalf of your business is part of your business’s brand image — that includes emails, blog and social media posts, marketing materials, and client-facing documents.  

    Write With Your Audience in Mind

    Whether you’re writing a blog post or an assessment report, you’re writing for an audience. But if you don’t write in a way that resonates with that audience, they’ll lose interest and stop reading. For instance, when writing for subject matter experts, you’ll likely use different language than you would for a non-expert audience. Or you might use more formal language in an assessment report than you would in an email.

    Taking the time to identify your audience segments and understand their needs will help you write relevant and relatable content that will keep their attention. No matter who you’re writing for, consistency and clarity are key to writing effectively and staying on brand.

    Keep Track of the Small Stuff 

    Sloppy, inconsistent writing and formatting can kill your credibility. Your voice and tone and your writing and formatting preferences are as much a part of your brand as your logo, tagline, and brand colors. It may sound trivial, but the little things add up, and consistency is part of what makes your brand memorable.

    That’s why you need a writing style guide — a living document that helps you keep track of your writing and formatting preferences, including things like tone of voice, common terms and terms to avoid, how to treat abbreviations, and how to style headings.

    Three ways a writing style guide can help strengthen your brand:

    1. It reduces conflict over style and formatting preferences. Everyone has different preferences. If you work with a team of writers and editors, they are bound to disagree over style and formatting issues from time to time. Having your preferences spelled out in your writing style guide helps keep everyone on the same page.

    2. It shortens the writing process. Referring to old pieces of writing to see how you wrote and formatted things or consulting your default major style manual for the same rule over and over adds time to the writing process. Keeping track of your writing and formatting preferences will make the writing process faster and less frustrating.

    3. It ensures a consistent brand experience for your clients. Consistency helps build credibility and makes your brand recognizable. 

    Your brand is how your company presents itself to the world, so the details matter. Tailoring your writing to your audience and developing and maintaining a consistent writing style will ensure that you present a professional and polished image to your clients, prospects, and competitors.

    Next month, we’ll discuss how to write clear and compelling copy, with a look at how different platforms and purposes impact your writing.​

    Sophie Michals is a writer, editor, and writing coach who helps brainy, image-conscious subject matter experts deliver clear, concise writing with a consistent brand voice. Learn more at (SM) Edits LLC.

    Erica Holthausen is the founder of Catchline Communications, a collaborative of writers and editors partnering with executives, consultants, and coaches to transform their ideas into published articles.

  • Friday, October 29, 2021 3:33 PM | Laura Burford

    How changing the form of your questions leads to more inclusive problem-solving and a friendlier approach for everyone.

    A key reason why clients hire consultants and freelancers is to help them solve a problem.

    As a consultant, one of my favorite approaches for problem-solving is Toyota’s 5 WHYs Analysis. I embraced 5 WHYs Analysis while managing software application projects and have continued to use it as a management consultant. However, over the years I’ve changed the form of my questions and I never realized it.

    One day one of my clients said a meeting with one of their potential clients didn’t go well. Actually, it flopped.

    In my work, I frequently recommend consultants and freelancers consider using 5-WHYs Analysis and recommend they include it in their “tool box.” But after talking with my client, I realized that I’ve been leading consultants and freelancers astray.

    I’m now telling them, “I’ve been WRONG!

    Am I saying that 5-WHYs Analysis is not a good technique? No, I’m not. It is an easy and powerful technique to use. However, I believe a modification in the form of the questions makes the approach more powerful and better accepted.

    What is 5 WHYs Analysis?

    5 WHYs Analysis works well when the symptoms of a problem are known but the cause or actual problem is not known. In theory, a person asks five (5) why questions continually diving down to uncover the root cause of the problem.

    Here’s a scenario illustrating the technique. 

    Your car doesn’t start so you call the car repair shop.

    The Mechanic starts by asking you, “Why wouldn’t your car start?” Your Reply: “The engine wouldn’t turn over.”

    Mechanic: “Why wouldn’t the engine turn over?” Your Reply: “The battery was drained.”

    Mechanic: “Why was the battery drained?” Your reply: “I think I forgot to turn the lights off.”

    Mechanic: “Why did you forget to turn the lights off?” Your reply: “I thought they would turn off automatically.”

    Mechanic: “Why didn’t they turn off automatically?” Your reply: “I don’t know. They were set to turn on and off automatically.”

    The 5 WHYs Analysis approach was developed by Sakichi Toyoda, founder of Toyota, to help Toyota Industries Corporation uncover manufacturing problems.  It works extremely well if there is a technical equipment problem or when a feature or functionality is missing as in a software application or with a business process.

    The challenge is everyone involved in the analysis needs to evaluate the situation objectively putting their personal feelings aside.

    That is why am I saying, “I’ve been WRONG!

    Why I’ve been WRONG!

    For the entire article that includes an example of how I recommend modifying your approach, click on this “friendly” link

    Final Thoughts

    Consultants and freelancers are problem-solvers.

    That is why people hire them — to solve problems.

    But before a consultant or freelancer can solve a problem, they need to determine the root cause of the problem. Understanding the root cause of the problem helps the consultant or freelancer get hired as well as assists with determining the right approach to solve the problem.

    There are several ways to determine the root cause. One approach is to use 5 WHYs Analysis. However, before you use 5 WHYs Analysis you may want to modify the approach. Before you ask any questions, understand your client and determine the best questioning format for them. Do why questions work or would it be better to ask exploratory and explicit questions?

    Yes, I’ve been WRONG! I believe this modification in question form leads to a more powerful and inclusive discovery as well as a friendlier and accepted approach for everyone involved.

  • Saturday, October 09, 2021 10:20 AM | Deleted user

    Imposter syndrome is a debilitating pattern of thinking that inhibits optimal functioning. Not only does it undermine confidence, but it also produces a need to prove yourself by achieving unrealistic standards standards that you, the person with imposter syndrome, create for yourself. In the process, imposter syndrome reduces creativity because the person sees taking risks or trying new approaches as threats to his or her image of being the best. At best, imposter syndrome creates stress and pressure. At worst, it builds to a level of dysfunctional anxiety. 

    So how can you learn to control imposter syndrome?

    Most people believe imposter syndrome is a feeling. It is not. Imposter syndrome is a series of irrational and illogical thoughts. The beauty of this fact is you can learn strategies to control your thoughts and by doing so, you can reduce or eliminate imposter syndrome. Here are five steps to help you think, feel and function at your best.

    1. Replace illogical thoughts with facts 

    Our brains will focus on what we tell them to focus on. With imposter syndrome, our brains are functioning from an illogical belief system and will search for any information to support the imposter syndrome. To eliminate the dysfunctional thoughts, we must replace those thoughts with facts, logic and evidence. Resumes, professional evaluations and concrete accomplishments are all sources of reality-based data to replace the thoughts creating the imposter syndrome.

    2. Rely on established practices and strengths

    For individuals with imposter syndrome, there is often the belief that they need to create new ways to accomplish tasks in order to be successful. They spend their time worrying about how to do things better or in unique ways to distinguish themselves. The reality is that there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Employing skills, behaviors and methods that have been successful in past situations can create success in current and future situations. Why not use validated success strategies rather than creating new ones that have no data to support their efficacy?

    3. Talk to a trained professional 

    In many articles I have read regarding imposter syndrome, a common piece of advice is to talk to someone about your feelings. Often the articles reference talking to your boss, colleague or a friend, and this advice is faulty. These individuals might be valuable when you want to vent, but they are not trained in approaches to help you reduce or eliminate imposter syndrome, nor are they regulated by confidentiality guidelines. Seeking out an executive coach, trained in areas of brain or behavior functioning, will ensure you receive expert support in a safe environment.

    4. Let go of perfectionism 

    Perfectionism is the energy source for imposter syndrome. The idea of being perfect or doing things perfectly creates some of the irrational and unrealistic standards that contribute to imposter syndrome and, ultimately, undermine goals. Some perfectionistic individuals focus so much energy and time on doing things perfectly that they never finish the goal at hand. Doing things well, using your strengths and accomplishing them within the designated time can be your focus and a way to reduce imposter syndrome.

    5. Write down your vision of success 

    Writing down your goals is a strategy towards goal achievement, but it also clearly establishes your measurement of the goal. It creates the boundary to maintain your focus so it does not stray towards something bigger or better. By writing down your goal, it also becomes a tool to measure your success based on the stated goal, not something more perfect. If you compare your outcome to the written goal, it becomes the litmus test for success and can prohibit your brain from spinning in the direction of imposter syndrome.

    For many driven and successful people, imposter syndrome is a common occurrence. Recognizing the signs and knowing you can control it allows you to prevent it from blocking your progress. By applying concrete strategies, and refusing to accept the illogical belief system as a habit or norm, you can maintain a level of optimal performance in your personal and professional lives.

    Dr. Robin Buckley, CPC, is the owner of Insights Group Psychological & Coaching Services in Rye, NH. Robin is an author, public speaker and certified coach ( In her work as an Executive Coach and Couples Coach, she helps high-achieving individuals and couples thrive in their careers and relationships. Her proprietary coaching model uses a business framework and cognitive-behavioral strategies to support clients in executing concrete, strategic plans to achieve the professional and relationship lives they want. 

  • Tuesday, October 05, 2021 11:08 AM | Erica Holthausen

    We’ve all had to wrestle meaning out of poorly written material. Perhaps it was a report that highlighted a series of problems but failed to provide a clear and actionable path forward. Or maybe it was that email from a client responding to what you thought was a simple question with an ambiguous and only vaguely related answer. Or that blog post that promised a solution but only added to the confusion.

    Poor writing costs time and money.

    According to The State of Business Writing, a report published in 2016, bad writing costs businesses an estimated $396 billion a year. That has undoubtedly increased along with the popularity of asynchronous communication tools such as Slack. More recently, Erica Dhawan, author of Digital Body Language, found that the average employee wastes up to four hours each week on poor, unclear, and confusing digital communication, most of which is written. As an independent consultant, your writing has a direct and immediate impact on your reputation and income.

    There are two types of business writing: traditional business writing and marketing communications. Below we’ll define each type of writing, examine its purpose, and give you a few tips on how to increase the effectiveness of both your traditional business writing and marketing communications.

    What Is Traditional Business Writing?

    Traditional business writing includes everything you write in the course of business, such as proposals, reports, emails, and messages in Slack. The purpose of this type of writing is typically to convey information about a specific topic. In many companies, traditional business writing is the engine that drives the day-to-day activities of the business. To increase the effectiveness of your traditional business writing:

    • Write with the reader in mind. Tailor the tone of the message to your intended audience. Avoid using jargon and abbreviations unless your audience is particularly savvy. Be clear, not clever.
    • Use the right communication tool. Email and Slack are good notification tools, but they are rarely effective communication tools. If you need to convey something important and want to avoid confusion and miscommunication, schedule a phone call or meeting.
    • Cut the fluff. Keep it short and simple.

    What Is Marketing Communications?

    Marketing communications is writing that is in service of business development, such as websites, email newsletters, case studies, white papers, social media posts, blogs, and articles on third-party platforms. Its purpose is to demonstrate your unique value proposition to your prospective, current, and former clients. To increase the effectiveness of your marketing communications:

    • Know your audience. Who is reading your marketing communications? Where are they in the buyer’s journey? Are you writing to the decision maker or to someone tasked with vetting a larger list of prospective consultants?
    • Focus on what’s in it for them. Why should a prospective client work with you? What does each segment of your audience want? Someone vetting prospective consultants wants to impress their boss. A decision maker wants to minimize their risk and know that they’ve made the right decision. How can you provide them with what they want most?
    • Show your impact. Your prospective clients care more about the results you achieve than the methods you use. Share examples of how you’ve helped your clients achieve their goals instead of describing your methods.

    If you truly want to be of service and improve the effectiveness of your business writing, treat your reader’s time as more valuable than your own.

    Next month, we’ll talk about the importance of knowing your audience and dive in to how your brand influences your writing.

    Sophie Michals is a writer, editor, and writing coach who helps brainy, image-conscious subject matter experts deliver clear, concise writing with a consistent brand voice. Learn more at (SM) Edits LLC.

    Erica Holthausen is the founder of Catchline Communications, a collaborative of writers and editors partnering with executives, consultants, and coaches to transform their ideas into published articles.

  • Tuesday, September 07, 2021 10:41 AM | Anonymous

    Everyone writes. Whether you’re writing an email to a client, putting together a proposal, preparing a report, or crafting an article for publication, your writing reflects your company’s brand and either builds your credibility and authority or diminishes it.

    Everyone writes. But not everyone writes effectively.

    In this series of articles, we will share tips for effective business writing, including practical tools you can apply immediately to improve your written communications and guidance on how to find the help you need.

    We’ll cover one tip each month — and, as a special bonus, we’ll share a list of our favorite writing resources to help improve your writing:

    • Tip 1: Acknowledge the Need for Effective Business Writing — different types of business writing and the purpose of each type
    • Tip 2: Understand Your Brand and Your Audience — how your brand influences your writing and why you must know your audience to write effectively
    • Tip 3: Write Clear and Compelling Copy — advice on writing clear and compelling copy and how different platforms and purposes impact your writing
    • Tip 4: Edit, Edit, and Edit Again — why editing and consistency are crucial to effective writing and how to establish a good relationship with your editor
    • Tip 5: Don’t Go It Alone — what to look for when hiring a writer or editor and why the writer or editor you hire doesn’t need to be an expert in your field
    • BONUS — a list of resources for writing and editing advice, reference tools, and where to find quality freelance writers and editors

    Check back in early October for Tip 1: We will talk about the differences between traditional business writing and marketing communications and the goals of each type of writing.

    Sophie Michals is a writer, editor, and writing coach who helps brainy, image-conscious subject matter experts deliver clear, concise writing with a consistent brand voice. Learn more at (SM) Edits LLC.

    Erica Holthausen is the founder of Catchline Communications, a collaborative of writers and editors partnering with executives, consultants, and coaches to transform their ideas into published articles.

  • Tuesday, August 31, 2021 9:54 PM | Rick Pollak (Administrator)

    How do you set priorities when you start a solo consulting business? If you focus on these three tasks, you’ll improve the chances of making your business successful.

    Building Authority

    It’s difficult for a new consultant to compete in a crowded field. Thought leadership activities will help you establish authority and get clients to find you. Creating blog posts, magazine articles, YouTube videos, and newsletters will help position you as an expert. If you produce content that’s relevant to your potential clients, you’ll establish authority and be able to win contracts over more experienced consultants.


    When you start a solo consulting business, you become the director of sales, marketing, finance, contracts, IT, and PM. The more time you spend on these tasks, the less time you can spend providing consulting services. Outsourcing some of these business responsibilities will give you more time to do the consulting work you enjoy. You can end up hating consulting if you try to do all the required operations tasks yourself.

    Asking for Help

    The Society of Professional Consultants offers networking, mentoring, and education to new consultants from around the world. We’re a diverse group of new and experienced consultants that encourages our members to collaborate, share best practices, and learn from each other. The SPC provides a supportive environment where new consultants can ask questions about launching and growing their practice. You can view our free resources for people considering a career in consulting at

    Rick Pollak is president of the Society of Professional Consultants. He’s also the founder of Presentation Medic, a consulting company specializing in curing boring presentations. He specializes in coaching speakers for TEDx talks, executive presentations, and technical workshops.

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