Justifying high rates

If you follow the media, you’ll sometimes see criticism of the "enormous" amounts spent on consulting fees. The media will gripe about people being paid $150 an hour, $1200 a day or even $30,000 for a month’s work. They act as though these fees are just some sort of patronage payback. Of course, they might be right about the patronage. Politicians do like to pay back their supporters. However, the media are really making a mountain out of a mole hill.

That’s because consulting fees are really about the value the client receives. It doesn’t matter if you’re paying $5,000 an hour as long as you’re receiving something worth that much. And if you don’t have the in-house resources to do it well, quickly or at all, then you’re better off hiring a consultant.

For example, I recently struggled with developing a brochure to promote some workshops I’m putting on. I must have spent 10 hours struggling with the thing. Sure, at some point in my career, when I was making $15 an hour, this would have made sense. But now I realize that I would have been better off to get a designer to do it for $150, so that I could avoid the headache and do other value-added stuff for my business…like developing the workshops, which I can’t really outsource. In the end, I asked a designer friend to come to my aid anyway. So I should have just spent the money in the beginning.

And that’s why it makes sense to pay megabucks for expert advice. It may save you money and help you do other value-added activities that make you money.