Home » Articles » Consulting

Category: Consulting

Security First; ???; Safety Third

I have committed security worst practices, and this is a learning moment for everyone.

Two years ago my friend Adam Burns (https://operatingops.org/), wrote a fantastic article “Hygiene Checklist for Paid Subscriptions”.

This article is recommended and required reading for every independent consultant and freelancer out there.

Reading this article will save you time and money.


Over to Adam for the intro:

==== Start Adam ====

One day I get a text from the illimitable Kai Davis. He’s had a Bad Moment.

Adam. I have terrible OpSec.

A former user had deleted a bunch of files. Luckily, he was able to recover.

Teach me how to OpSec.

No worries buddy. I got you.

Kai is a power user, and in today’s Internet that means he subscribes to two dozen hosted services. How do you manage two dozen services and keep any kind of sanity? I do it with checklists (read this book).

Before I show them to you, we need to cover one of the Big Important Things from Mr. Gawande’s book. Kai already knows how to manage his services. He just needs to make sure he hasn’t forgotten something important like disabling access for former users.

I wrote Kai two checklists. One to use monthly to make sure nothing gets missed and one to use when setting up new services to reduce the monthly work. I assume he has a master spreadsheet listing all his services. Kai’s Bad Moment categorizes as OpSec, but I didn’t limit these lists to that category.


==== End Adam ===

Kai here.

The reason this article came to mind?

Today, American Express sent me an email to let me know that they were sending me a replacement card for my business account. The card was in the name of a person that no longer works for me.

That’s a hard no!

The email was just an automated “we’re replacing your card with one with new features!” message. Nothing to worry about.

I snap-called AmEx and had them shut that down and remove that person from my account.

Have you ever sat down and thought about what your Security Hygiene looks like? Have you…

  • Updated those out of date passwords that 1Password is warning you to change?
  • Set a reminder to review your recurring subscriptions and cancel what you aren’t using?
  • Shut down your accounts on those services you signed up for ages ago and don’t use anymore?

I sat. I thought.

I got scared.

Then, I remembered that Adam wrote this excellent checklist to teach me how to OpSec.

It’s time for me to implement these best practices. I encourage you to read Adam’s excellent article and do the same.

Read Adam’s article over here: https://operatingops.org/2017/03/18/hygiene-checklist-for-paid-subscriptions/.

The “set a reminder to review billing” tip will save you thousands of dollars.

And if you like it, subscribe to Adam’s mailing list here: https://operatingops.org/subscribe/.




Value is Impact divided by Effort.

  • High Impact, low Effort? That’s valuable.
  • Low Impact, high Effort? That’s not as valuable.

What does Effort mean for a client when they’re paying you to do the work? They aren’t putting in the sweat equity of Effort themselves, you are.

The Effort represents the Price that the client is paying for the project.

Impact is the outcome of the project for the client.

For a client, Value is Impact divided by Price.

  • High Impact, low price? That’s valuable.
  • Low Impact, high price? That’s not valuable.

(“Impact per Dollar”)

What does Effort mean when you’re working on your own business?

You’re putting in the effort and sweat equity and maybe you’re going to get paid directly from your work on your business.

The Effort represents the Time and Money that you’re investing in your own business. Mostly Time.

(“Impact per Hour,” “Impact per Dollar,” or “Impact per Effort”)

When you’re working on your business, It will take a few months for you to see the Impact.

When you’re planning what to work on — for a client, for yourself, for self-care, whatever — think about it in terms of “Impact” and “Effort.”

  1. What Impact will this have? Is it “Low Impact,” “Medium Impact,” or “High Impact”?
  2. How much Effort will this take? Is it “Low Effort,” “Medium Effort,” or “High Effort”?
  3. What does the Impact for the Effort look like?
  4. What different things could you work on that would provide a higher Impact for the Effort?

How can you learn what high-priority, impactful things your lead or client is looking for help with?

Sit down with the client and ask them questions about their business and the outcomes they’re looking for. Invite them to a Roadmapping Session (https://kaidavis.com/roadmapping/)



Monthly Website Commentary Extravaganza

Last week in Freelance Camp (https://freelance.camp) we hosted a brand new event in the community:

Website Commentary!

[Enable Images]

It was an hour of straight talk, actionable advice, and helpful commentary for every member that signed up. We’re already planning the next Website Commentary event for August.

Every week in Freelance Camp we have a different community event, like a Book Club meeting, Lunch and Learn, or a Campfire Call.

If you’re interested in joining a community of freelancers and consultants, applications for Freelance Camp are currently open.

Head on over to https://freelance.camp/ and learn a little more about the community. If it sounds like the type of place you’d enjoy, fill out the application form to reserve your spot.

You’ll hear back from me shortly.



p.s., the advice that applied to nearly every website we looked at? Add more social proof to your website! Go read these testimonials from Freelance Camp members: https://freelance.camp/#testimonials

The Legal Pad

On my desk, there is a legal pad and a pen. These two tools help me stay focused on whatever I’m working on.

They protect me from distractions and side quests.

When I’m working, I’ll often get distracted by a small, related task:

  • Fix that webpage
  • Place on order for that shirt on Amazon
  • Send that email
  • Post that tweet

And I’ll jump around and start working on that next thing before I’ve finished working on the first thing. Oy vey.

Now? When I get that “oh, I should take care of This Other Thing!” feeling, my first step is to write This Other Thing down on my legal pad:

Take care of This Other Thing

Then, I get back to work on whatever I was working on before. Once I finish working on that, I can start work on the next thing.

This small habit helps me fight fires throughout my day.

Let’s say I have a call with a prospective client. I’m writing them an email with a link to the page for my Business Strategy Session (https://kaidavis.com/call/). Before I hit send, I remember “Wait, I need to add that new testimonial to the page!”

Once I have that thought, I write it down:

Add new testimonial to 1-on-1 call page (https://kaidavis.com/call/)

And then I get back to what I was working on.

Does the page need to be updated? Absolutely.

Do I need to do it this minute and break context on what I’m doing? Absolutely not. Updating the page isn’t an emergency. No one is bleeding.

The flow I’m working on looks like this:

  • Start work on That Thing
  • Remember This Other Thing that’s related to That Thing
  • Write This Other Thing down on The Legal Pad
  • Continue forward with That Thing I’m working on
  • Finish That Thing
  • Look at The Legal Pad and This Other Thing. Decide, “do I need to tackle This Other Thing now?” If not, add it to Omnifocus/Trello to sort in later.

By writing the ideas, distractions, and thoughts down as I come across them, I avoid getting lost on these small, related projects. With this little habit, I’m able to focus on my priorities and avoid getting distracted by side quests.



A Real Professional

Swizec (https://swizec.com/), a friend, writes in with a great insight after yesterday’s letter “I will send along an NDA to get the discussion started” (https://kaidavis.com/freelancers-guide-to-ndas/)

Swizec adds:

It makes you look like A Real Professional who certainly knows what they’re doing.

Swizec is 100% right.

When you take the initiative like this, you look like a real professional to your leads, clients, and prospects:

  • You’re identifying a pain on the lead’s side of the table (Their desire for security and peace of mind via NDA)
  • You’re preparing a professional document that addresses this pain (An NDA crafted via your lawyer)
  • You’re making this document part of your standard process (“Here’s our standard NDA to ensure that we’re both protected.”)

All of this adds up to looking like A Real Professional™ who knows what they’re doing. This applies no matter what the document or pain at hand is:

  • Your Contract
  • Client Onboarding
  • Client Offboarding

Identify the pain. Put together a document and process. Present your clients with this process.

You’ll look like A Real Professional, my friend.

Thank you, Swizec! Great insight!



p.s., I had ‘A Real Hero’ from the ‘Drive’ Soundtrack stuck in my head while writing this letter.

“I will send along an NDA to get the discussion started”

If you're routinely or occasionally presented with NDAs (non-disclosure agreements), this can be a source of friction in your business:

  • 👨‍⚖️ Signing an NDA could open you up to legal risk
  • 💸 Having your lawyer review NDAs costs you money
  • 🕰️ Reviewing the NDAs yourself costs you time

I take the stance that you should set up a 'price speed bump' to discourage people who show up with NDAs in hand.

Here's the language I recommend for this, pulled from the as-yet-unpublished Just Say 'No': Scripts for Freelancers and Consultants:

There's a $500 fee for the cost for my lawyer to review your NDA. If you're willing to pay that fee, send the NDA over, and I'll send it to my lawyer. No guarantees on me signing once my lawyer has reviewed it.

Today, I ran into something that opened my eyes to a different approach.

Pay your attorney to draft up a standard NDA for your business. Have them walk you through it:

  • What you can negotiate
  • What you cannot negotiate
  • What should make you think: "I better talk to my lawyer."

Then, set up a standard process where you offer to send your NDA to the other party

Great, I'm excited to learn more about what you need help with. I'll go ahead and send over our standard NDA for you to review and sign.

You get a few perks in exchange for the cost of doing this:

👨‍⚖️ Boutique NDA

You have an NDA that's written for you, your business, your needs, and your protection from legal risk.

You can rest assured that your NDA will protect you.

♻️ Rinse and Repeat Process

You now have a 'rinse and repeat' process you can follow to send your NDA to any lead that asks for one: send them the NDA through HelloSign (https://hellosign.com).

☮️ Peace of Mind

You can offer your leads and clients the peace of mind of knowing they've signed an NDA.

💰 Save Money by Investing Money

If you have your lawyer review every NDA that's sent to you (or if you're spending the time to read them all yourself), then you have a cost each time an NDA shows up.

Dodge this recurring cost with your one-time investment in a custom NDA for your business.

Now, instead of a recurring cost, you have a standard operating procedure you can follow and a standard document you can use to offer your leads peace of mind (and give yourself legal protection).

Productized Services: Strategy or Implementation?

A productized service can be focused on strategy, on implementation, or on strategy + implementation.

The easiest productized services to start with, market, and sell are ones that are focused on implementation.


Because when your service is implementation focused, you’re taking work off of the client’s plate. They don’t need to worry about Doing The Thing.

Because you’re offering your implementation-focused service at a fixed price, you’re seen as a less risky option than other consultants. Your client doesn’t need to ever worry about going over budget.

Looking to get started offering a productized service? Here’s an easy way to start:

Take a look at projects you’ve done in the past

Identify a small thing, something that you’ve done multiple times and would enjoy doing more of

Offer that as a productized service with a fixed price, timeline, outputs, and outcomes




It’s thick. That’s the first thing you notice when you receive your letter in the mail.

You can tell that there’s more inside than just a card. And you’re right.


Once you open up the envelope, you see that there’s a Letter, a Postcard, and a Laminated Card.

You flip the postcard over. On the back, there’s a written note for you.

You start to read the letter. You see that it’s a welcome letter from The House of Consultants.

You hold the Laminated Card in your hands and it feels great. You can tell it’ll hold up over time. The colors are vibrant. You can’t wait to show it to a friend.

It looks exactly look it did online:

[Enable Images To See This Photo]/></a></p> <p><a data-cke-saved-href=

Free shipping & handling today: https://davisindustries.samcart.com/products/consulting-card/



Smoothie Operating Procedure

This morning, as I wandered into the kitchen, still half asleep, I remembered that there were pre-made smoothie bags in the freezer from this week’s meal prep.

For a delicious berry + greens protein smoothie, all I needed to do was:

  • Pop the bag out of the freezer
  • Dump it into the blender
  • Add soy milk
  • Turn the blender on
  • Enjoy!

(Spot the critical missing step yet?)

I followed my remembered process, prep my smoothie, turn the blender on, and smoothie promptly coats my kitchen cabinets and counter.

I forgot to put the lid back on the blender.

You don’t ever think to yourself:

I should write down the steps I follow to make my morning smoothie

or, for the business equivalent:

I should write down the steps for how I use my budgeting software

Or Google Analytics. Or add a page to your website. Or send an email to your list. Or invoice a client.

And then, when you don’t expect it, smoothie flies up into your face.

No matter how small the action or project, if it’s something you’re going to do more than once, write the steps down. Create a Standard Operating Procedure you can follow. Future you will thank you for taking the time to write down the steps:




Your Client Doesn’t Want To Know How The Sausage Is Made

Here are three things to avoid discussing or mentioning in conversation with your lead or client — and suggestions on what to say instead.

If you use a consulting ‘term of art’ (a word or phrase that has a precise, specialized meaning within the fields of freelancing and consulting), you will accidentally confuse your client.

“This is a Productized Service”

Don’t call it a Productized Service.

Why? This is a highly technical term. Your client will not understand what a Productized Service is. Referring to it as such introduces a lot of potential for risk and objections.

One time, a lead heard me say “Productized Service” when discussing their upcoming project. Immediately, they raised an objection: they thought we were discussing my service and instead, we’re talking about my product? Confusion city, my friend.

When you’re talking with your clients, keep it simple and keep it crystal clear. Don’t call it a Productized Service; call it a Service.

“…Value-Based Pricing…”

Don’t tell your client that you’re following a value-based methodology to determine their price.

Why? If you open up a conversation about Value-Based Pricing, then you’ll be talking about (and defending) your pricing process instead of talking with the client about the project.

Instead, just share the price and why this is a valuable investment for the client:

This is the price: $…

Don’t mention your pricing process, systems, or techniques — value-based or otherwise — to the client.

“…Roadmapping Session…”

Don’t call it a Roadmapping Session.

Let’s compare and contrast these two names for the same hypothetical service: a marketing plan for your Shopify Store that defines the top 2-3 priorities to focus on to get more conversions.

Shopify Marketing Roadmapping Session


Shopify Marketing Action Plan

The second focuses on the outcome/output of the process (the Marketing Action Plan) instead of focusing on the process.

Roadmapping Session is another highly technical term that you want to avoid using with clients. A Roadmapping Session is a type of engagement: a paid discovery and strategic engagement that helps you and the client learn more about the client’s business and current situation and determine the best paths forward. https://kaidavis.com/roadmapping/

When you’re offering a Roadmapping Session, make the name attractive and relevant to the client.

  • “Action Plan” instead of “Roadmapping Session.”
  • “Website Rescue” instead of “Website Audit” (no one wants to be audited)

Name your service in a way that aligns with or hints at the outcome or benefits your target market is looking for.