Smart Answers

Q: I'm a consultant known for fast work, but I worry that I'm being cheated by my own efficiency. Should I work slower or charge more? --R.H., Encino, Calif.

A: Do not work slower--your speed and quality are tremendous values and should be used as selling points. Figure out what your competitors charge for similar work, and adjust your rates accordingly. For small jobs, charging hourly may be best. You can also bill on a per project basis, but if you underestimate the time required for a job, you'll lose money. And if your margins are healthy, "don't be afraid to stay the course," says small-business coach John Delmatoff in Diamond Bar, Calif. For more pricing tips, check out Alan Weiss's book Million Dollar Consulting (1997, McGraw-Hill, $14.95). But for personalized advice, consult your pocketbook.

By Karen E. Klein

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