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Business Development

Proposal for Time and Materials Assignment

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I was hired to recruit a CEO for $6MM steel supply company, and accomplished the task in a record-breaking 27 days. (A typical executive search at this level takes three to six months.)  I saved the client company $25,250 in recruiting fees by charging hourly rates instead of a project fee, and provided this solution with one phone call from my Rolodex®. (Today, we would say "my LinkedIn network.") The first candidate I identified for the job turned out to be a perfect fit. I did not trust the owner of the company, so felt I needed a well-written agreement to keep me in control of the assignment. Notice the payment in advance clause. Here is the proposal that secured the business.

June 17, 20— 

Nathan Black
Steel Warehousing Company
5000 West Lafayette Street
Detroit, MI 48226

Dear Nathan,

You have asked our firm to help you select an interim executive to operate Steel Warehousing Company, to position the company for sale, and to sell it in the shortest time practical. We are very excited about the project, and are confident we'll complete it successfully.

We will undertake your project as a consulting assignment by the hour, not as a standard retained search at 25-33% of annual salary. This will afford you substantial savings, and will allow you to discontinue our work together if you sell the company yourself or find your own interim CEO, or otherwise change your plans.

We will conduct this consulting assignment and executive search under the following terms and conditions:

  1. You will pay for consulting time by CareerLab consultants at $250 per hour.  
  2. You may terminate our services at any time with 24 hours' notice, and your only obligation will be to pay all current invoices and accumulated charges. Likewise, we may terminate the project with you at any time with 24 hours' notice.  
  3. You will pay all out-of-pocket costs, including but not limited to, travel expenses (if any), mileage, long distance telephone, courier and mailing expenses, and copy charges.  You authorize us to advance funds for the payment of these costs and agree to reimburse them as part of your monthly billing.  
  4. You understand that we require that you pay our fees in advance.  We call these advance fees a retainer. We bill monthly against the retainer.  You agree to maintain a retainer balance of $2500 at all times during the project. You agree to keep all monthly bills currently paid, thereby maintaining the retainer balance.  
  5. You acknowledge that should you fail for any reason to make the payments as you have promised, pay current bills, and maintain the required retainer balance, such failure will cause our firm to withdraw from your case.  
  6. If, for some reason, you owe us money and do not pay it as agreed, you hereby agree to pay all costs of collection incurred by us, including collection agency fees, court costs, and reasonable attorneys' fees.  
  7. You acknowledge by signing below that you agree to abide by the fee arrangement set forth in this letter.
I have read the above Fee Agreement.  I understand it and agree to its terms.  

By: ________________________________
Nathan Black
Steel Warehousing Company                             
Date: _______________________________  

By: _________________________________
William S. Frank, President, CareerLab

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William S. Frank, M.A.,
25 Reasons I love consulting.
by William S. Frank
  1. Brand. You are your own brand, and you can define it any way you want. For many years, I provided outplacement to the ex-employees of Schlumberger, the world's largest oilfield service corporation. When departing employees left the company, they didn't request outplacement in their severance package. They said, "I want Bill Frank."
  2. Demand. The world will always be full of terrible problems that need solving.
  3. White Hat. I can be a helper and get paid for it.
  4. Pay. I can be paid to do things I'd gladly do for nothing.
  5. Variety. Every day is different.
  6. Happiness. At this stage of my career, I only work for people I respect and care about. If a client micromanages me or is otherwise no fun, I complete the assignment and replace them.
  7. Talent. I'm using 110% of my talents and stretching myself to the max.
  8. Change. I can change my focus any day I want. If you're a McDonald's franchisee, you don't say, "Hey, I've got this great idea for a meatball sandwich—let's try it out today." In consulting you can adjust your focus hour-by-hour, as long as your clients still understand and appreciate what you do.
  9. Income. No one else would pay me as much as I pay myself.
  10. FUN. I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing.
  11. Retirement. I can write and consult as long as I am physically and mentally capable. Peter Drucker worked into his 90s, and when asked which book was his best, he said: "My next one."
  12. Job Security. Although clients come and go, no one can come into my office and say, "Pack up your stuff . . . You don't work here anymore." In 29 years, I've only had one employer: ME.
  13. Travel. I don't have to travel unless I decide to. I travel if it's both FUN and profitable—or at least FUN.
  14. Commute. I live five minutes from my office, a corner office in an upscale six-story tower. In winter, I leave a heated garage at home and drive to an underground heated garage at work. There's seldom time to hear even one song on the radio.
  15. Vacation. Consulting is more fun than vacation (except on Wailea Beach in Maui).
  16. Friends. I have developed hundreds of close acquaintances and several lifetime friends.
  17. Time. I can work as much or as little as I like: four-hour days or 18-hour days. (Of course, my income will reflect that.)
  18. Employees. I can work with employees, subcontractors, partners, or alone—I've done it all.
  19. Passive Income. I've developed several products that provide "mailbox money." I earn while I'm sleeping.
  20. Ethics. I've never had to violate my values or personal code of ethics. I've never had to lie, purposely deceive or harm others, or promise things I can't deliver. I go to bed with a clear conscience. That doesn't mean there's never any conflict. But the conflict is conducted according to generally accepted business practices.
  21. Virtual. My career is fairly portable. With the Internet, e-mail, cell phone, and FedEx, I can work nationally, even internationally from my office—or anywhere in the world.
  22. Purpose. I make a difference in peoples' lives every day. I see it in their faces, hear it in their voices, and read it in their thank-yous.
  23. Experience. Every painful or joyful life experience makes me a better consultant. So does every person I meet or book I read. Grey hair can be good in consulting.
  24. Structure. I have to work very hard, and the clients expect superb results—but I get to structure my days, weeks, months, and years.
  25. Boss. Most of the time, I love my boss.
As I was posting these letters online, I realized I want to communicate my love for consulting. It's just a great business. The single letters, taken together, may create a picture of enjoyment, but in a burst of creativity I listed some of the reasons consulting is such a good fit for me—and perhaps for you, too. They are not prioritized; this is just how they came out.