Friday, June 22, 2007

Getting Good Advice Without Consultant Fees

Business decisions depend on facts, and this is one case where more actually is better.

Getting those facts can be expensive. Bringing in a consultant seems to be conventional wisdom, although I suspect that it makes more sense to start a consulting business than do business with a consultant.

Besides, it looks like there's been discussion of whether consultants really pay for themselves for quite a while. For example: "Lifting the lid on bad consultancy" (CNN, 2005), and a blog posted a few weeks ago about marketing consultants in the construction industry.

Even if I were convinced that consultants were, generally, worth what they cost, I don't have the budget to pay or the time to select a reliable consultant.

I do, however, have access to consultants who come free of charge: and are often worth more than they cost.

Many networks of bloggers and similar online communities exist. The most famous is probably MySpace, which in my opinion is a waste of time and bandwidth. (I do have a blog there, but only in order to stay in touch with a contractor I met while evaluating the service.)

I've found LiveJournal, an online social service that seems to cater to the creative crowd, and ArtZone, an online art community run by DAZ Productions, useful sources of opinion for the creative end of my business, as well as satisfactory opportunities for socializing.

Not all of the feedback I get is useful, of course, but the fools and knaves have been much less effective at disguising themselves than their for-profit counterparts.

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