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Re: More DConsult ideas... (long)

George Bonser <grep@oriole.sbay.org> writes:

> One of the things I have noticed when see people requesting Linux services
> is that they sometimes expect a starving university student to arrive and
> work miracles on their web server for $20/hour and a sandwich.

We have to be careful not to project that image.  You know and I know
(and most real companies know this too, even in this small town) that
somebody charging $20/hr usually doesn't know his/her stuff (since
they are charging below market rates) - and will typically take many
more hours to compete a job.  Your typical Unix hacker can do stuff in
minutes with a few sed and perl scripts that a typical Windows
consultant might spend days attempting to do manually.

Depending on the task, some experienced people can charge $200/hr and
up and actually be worth it.

Of course, some tasks really do require low-skill grunt work, and you
don't want to hire somebody at $200/hr to do that sort of stuff.

I hope we can put together an organization with a wide set of skill
sets.  We can have students that think $20/hr is a pretty good wage,
and experts that charge $200/hr.

What can happen then is that a customer will deal with their favourite
consultant (say, making $50/hr) - who can put together a package which
utilizes his time, plus the expert for 2 hours, and the student for 50
hours - and get the job done at the lowest cost.

> > Affiliations
> > ------------
> > 
> > Although the organization is geared towards hooking up the independent
> > Debian consultants, I think some of us aren't so independent.  ie. some
> > consultants already work for an ISP, or another consulting firm.
> > 
> > What do people think about that?  I personally don't have that much of
> > a problem with it.  Each consultant can have a link to the company they
> > work for (if they work for one).
> The folks I work with have shown little interest in formal Linux support
> but I would certainly put a link to them as shops with Linux would
> probably have other things that I personally do not support but they do.
> Besides, they are a really great group of folks to work with.
> As a matter of fact, why not treat firms and individual consultants alike
> for the purposes of this organization? I mean, how about this being an
> association that both firms could belong to and that could also act as an
> umbrella under which the individuals could work to share resources and
> standardize practices?  In other words, it could provide some of the
> benefits of an economy of scale for the individuals while helping the
> larger firms with a consistant marketing and pricing scructure. This works
> particularly well for customers of a regional consultant that might have
> facillities outside of that firm's coverage area.  This type of
> cooperation would leverage the support into new areas that might otherwise
> go untouched. Such a cooperative effort as this could stand to benefit
> everyone.

I think that where we have individual consultants that work for a
company, we should be freely advertising the connection to that
company (but not listing the companies as if they were individual

I don't really like the idea of having a "member" (with a vote) who
isn't really a real person.  A company just doesn't have the same
accountability and real-life presence as a person.  As a customer, I'd
rather deal with an organization which had 20 real-life people I could
talk to rather than 20 "companies" which may or may not be a single
person (heck, one person could be 20 companies).

> Will look over the rest of it more carefully later.  In general, I like it
> but one thing that comes through is that we need to decide exactly what it
> is.  Is it a money-making entity in and of itself or is it an association
> of independant consultants and firms cooperating to leverage a larger
> market opportunity?

Initially, I think the central organization would be a non-profit
"club", so it would not be a money making entity in itself.  I think
that we can set up a little expense account for each member to cover
miscellaneous costs (mailing expenses, advertising, CDs, shirts,
ballcaps, etc).  Every once in awhile, each consultant will be
expected to clear the balance in their expense account by sending in a

Each consultant's company would be run for profit, of course.

I think you hit the nail on the head by calling it an "association of
independant consultants and firms cooperating to leverage a larger
market opportunity".

I don't want to think too far down the road at this point, but it may
evolve over time.  Perhaps everybody will decide that we work very well
together as a tight unit, and would have something to gain by turning it
into a company, with the ability to raise capital, etc.

On the other hand, it might work best as an "association of
independent consultants" - and each of us will be able to grow our
individual companies.

At this point, I really have no preference one way or the other for
how I want it to turn out in the long run.  I do think it's best to
start it off as a relatively informal non-profit "club" that presents
a unified marketing front.

(I guess it could be called a "cartel", if we actually controlled a
 market - and then it would be illegal.  Maybe we will control the
 Debian consulting market?  I doubt it though.)

> Are the consultants members, partners, or employees?

If it's a "club", as I propose, then the consultants are members.
Since they would have voting rights, they could also be considered
partners.  When we incorporate, each member would get shares.  I think
the term "member" is less confusing - I tend to associate the term
"partner" with for-profit ventures.

Definitely not employees.  Doing so would require turning the thing
into a multinational corporation, which probably involves the outlay
of hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees and expenses.


 - Jim

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