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Duration of consulting projects


The type of work that software developers can do is extremely varied.

Consultancy is often a way to fund startup product development, but for a small team this is only viable if the type of work taken on is short.

What types of consulting projects are good to take on for a bootstrapped startup?

What is the duration of the client projects that you take on?

What different types of projects have distinguished durations?

What type of projects avoid being sucked permanently in consulting?

What type of work should software developers aim to take on to reduce the duration of the project? This could be for the sake of doing more interesting work (ie variety) or keeping more time available for in house product development.



I actually find it more viable to take long lasting, recurring contracts, but with a limited number of days per week.

This way it is indefinitely sustainable.

You can make sure that you have the right daily rate for that with the little calculator I released.

My current situation is: 2 recurring clients for quite a long time, and not accepting new clients. This reduces the overhead that comes with taking new clients onboard (signing contract, getting to know each other, building trust etc).

As well, instead of full days, I’m only selling 5 hour blocks (one per day), and I make sure that my customers book one to two months in advance.

This makes sure everyone has a bit of time, visibility, some room for emergency. It brings me forever sustainable freelancing that covers my needs, as well as time to work on my SaaS product.

Hope this helps!

– Thibaut


Your situation is enviable, Thibaut! Is it possible for ‘new’ consultants to get recurring clients, part time, five hour days right out of the gate, or does it require full-time commitment to build the initial relationship?


It depends on what “new” means :slight_smile: My wife for instance, left her employer and did a bit of consulting for them for a while, to the pace of 2 to 8 hours per week. She had some unique knowledge and managed to bill 175€/hour, which quickly added up and bought us time.

Without going to that kind of hourly rate, if you have existing knowledge that you can sell as a freelance, I believe that in general it is doable, maybe not in 5 hours block right away (maybe more in “regular days”, but still part time, say 3 or 4 days per week).

Once you have a bit of cash saved, you can experiment and take more risk, which usually brings more reward as well.

You can to the very least try out 4 days per week to get started - 1 day free is already a good way to dive into your own projects! Some companies will actually be happy to hire you less than full time, because it cost them less, give a bit of space to make sure they can provide what you need (meetings / decisions / etc).

Hope this helps a bit!