The idea of owning a business intrigued Ray Rauth so much that he left a comfortable job in the academic computer center at City University of New York in New York City to co-found a computer consulting and training company in 1982. But after about a year, Rauth, 56, decided to consult for the company he helped found.
"I wanted to step out of management and be more involved in the technical aspects," says Rauth, now co-owner of Pine Creek Consulting LLC, a computer consulting firm in Westport, Connecticut.
Although he worried about the decision to go independent, Rauth knew he had one major plus on his side--his former company was pleased with his work and planned to work with him long term.
Rauth also had leaped into computer consulting in its early days--and starting early paid off: Today Rauth has six clients, and he brought in a six figure income last year.
Finding and keeping clients has been a challenge for Rauth, however. "Like most consultants, I'm not really marketing- or sales-oriented, and I find it difficult to do," he says. Instead, he emphasizes customer retention and networking with peers through the Independent Computer Consultants Association (ICCA).
Rauth's networking is helping move his company to the next level. His recent merger with another firm to form Pine Creek was done because, he says, "I think business has changed so much that a one-person shop has difficulty doing off-site work for larger companies. Technology is more complicated and requires us to spend more time [at a client's] site. It gives one organization more capabilities, and clients appreciate it."
And therein lies the key to becoming a successful computer consultant. You have to be responsive to your clients' needs and keep pace with an industry in a constant state of change.
Allsouth Professional Liability Inc., (800) 913-9260, firstname.lastname@example.org
Khera Communications Inc., http://www.kcilink.com
National Association of Computer Consultant Businesses, http://www.naccb.resourcecenter.com
Ray Rauth, (203) 846-2535
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