A workable RFP process

A post over at Enter Content Here called The RFP is Dead! Long Live the RFP! talks about the weaknesses of the traditional RFP process. Everyone has a different take on this, but the way I approach it is this: send me your RFP, and I’ll respond. If I don’t get the contract, no hard feelings, send me the next one. I do this three or four times, but after that, if I’ve spent time evaluating your RFPs but haven’t yielded any business, you’re either selecting vendors exclusively on the basis of price, or fishing for information you can give to your low cost (offshore) developer. Obviously either case is a waste of my time, so I’ll decline further requests from you.

I thought the most salient point in the post was his remark that the RFP process was by definition adversarial. I like to create business relationships and partnerships (rather than be viewed as just another cost center), so I thought this was a perfect way of putting it (and the example of “finding a spouse using the RFP process” was the perfect example). In general, you really don’t want to just respond to RFPs with a simple price quote (because it encourages selection on the basis of price); you want to argue why you’re the best fit for the client’s needs.

Freelancing report released by FreeLanceSwitch.com

A detailed report ($3 or more donation) on the state of freelancing was just released by the guys over at freelanceswitch.com. Key take-aways were:

  • Start freelancing, be happy: 89% of freelancers report being happier since starting freelancing.
  • Referrals are huge: For all categories of freelancers, the number one source of new work was referrals.
  • The “extra analysis” by Aaron Cruikshak provided at the end of the report is gold, Jerry, gold! He breaks down the “income” and “happiness” metrics in greater detail.

I had a couple of nits with this report which I fed back to the authors in their comment section, but overall it was very useful and I’m glad they produced it.

Intuit is bullish on small business

I enjoyed Intuit’s report on The Future of Small Business, and I’m excited that the next installment, The New Entrepreneurial Economy, was just announced.

The most interesting aspects of the first report were:

  • The idea of the “personal business” – no-employee businesses started by outsourcing roadkill and the other castoffs of corporate world. I’ve always felt awkward calling That Software Guy a sole proprietorship, because it’s actually a corporation – but a one person corporation. Maybe SoloCorp is a neologism we should add to the lexicon!
  • The idea of the “accidental entrepreneur” – someone who started doing something as a hobby (or to improve the world, i.e. the “social entrepreneur”) and turned it into a business.
  • Coworking facilities like The Hat Factory. I love this idea and I’m anxiously watching the Coworking Wiki for a Tampa Bay facility. 🙂
  • The idea of entrepreneur education – for the young, college students and mid-career types like me. I actually wrote to Intuit and suggested the develop this idea more deeply.