Though plenty of working computer consultants would argue that you can't teach their trade in a book, author Alan Simon takes a stab at it. In this book the experienced consultant shares tales from the field and lessons he's learned, saving you the trouble of learning them the hard way.
That's not to say that this book represents a consultancy-in-a-box. Any business endeavor is going to involve trial, error, waste, and second thoughts. Simon's book merely increases the odds that successes will outnumber failures and that your new business won't die of honest mistakes in its critical early years. Furthermore, Simon does not (and cannot be expected to) impart any technical knowledge through these pages. If you're even thinking about becoming a consultant, it's assumed you have a high level of technical expertise.
The author opens with a discussion of the key questions that must be answered by any business plan: What will the business do, and why? He discusses several dozen consulting specialties--including four focused on the year 2000 problem--and the specific issues involved in running each. He then goes on to cover writing business plans, managing employees and subcontractors, and dealing with finances. (His coverage of "revenue spurts" and "dead times" rings particularly true.) He talks about such perennial challenges as figuring out what customers want and how to get more business without swamping yourself or sacrificing quality, all in a readable style. --David Wall [via]