I have received many requests for consulting help from new clients over the past 6 months. With small clients (start-ups and companies with less than 40 people), I have wasted most of my time: hours of free phone calls discussing projects, with no revenue at the end of the day. I would like to check whether you are experiencing the same problems with new, small clients:
- In a nutshell, a total waste of time
- They make you sign a NDA, you wonder whether the reason is to sue you later, since they have no intention of ever working with you
- They have no intent to ever sign a contract, they are just trying to steal IP and get free advice - particularly since we have deep expertize in a number of domains
- As a result, I no longer reply to these requests (if a new small client can't pay $1,000 upfront to jump start a project, I'm not going to even spend 60 minutes over the phone with them)
- I have plenty of returning clients and large new clients showing interest - some of them signing up, so it's fine with me (but some new large clients - Microsoft in particular - are just after stealing IP as well, and so I put them in the same blacklist)
- Being a small company myself, I face the same problem, when I ask for help: potential consultants require lots of money upfront - and since we have lots of expertize in many fields and can do everything ourselves, we no longer pay consultants: now we work very late every night, doing the job ourselves, to avoid paying absurd fees to consultants. It makes our quality of life worse, but our financial situation better. As this behavior (by small companies) becomes more prevalent, I would imagine that many won't be able to compete efficiently: when all vendors avoid you, you lack access to a number of competitive advantages.
Does this describe your situation? Are you in the same boat? How are you handling this problem?