Q: I'm a computer science major at the University of California in Irvine considering going into the computer-consulting business upon graduation. I plan to market my services to small-business owners and middle-class to upper-class family households. Can you recommend some books on computer consulting and perhaps some contacts?
A: Provided by Debbi L. Handler, owner of Data Access Solutions in Sausalito, California, and president-elect for the Independent Computer Consultants Association in St. Louis.
Starting a computer-consulting practice can be scary, but it can also be extremely gratifying. To keep a steady cash flow, you'll need to maintain several clients simultaneously.
For more in-depth advice on starting a computer-consulting business, refer to these books: How to Make It Big as a Consultant, by William A. Cohen (American Management Association International, $17.95, 800-262-9699) and How to Be a Successful Computer Consultant, by Alan R. Simon (McGraw-Hill, $21.95, 800-262-4729).
For help running the business side of your consulting firm, attend your local Independent Computer Consultants Association (ICCA) chapter meeting. The ICCA, a national trade association open to anyone in the computer-consulting industry, offers networking opportunities and education through monthly chapter meetings and an annual national conference.
ICCA members get a host of benefits, including a national newsletter; standard contracts; a personal Web page; health, disability, business, and errors and omissions insurance policies; as well as numerous business-related service discounts.
For membership information or to find a chapter near you, contact the ICCA at (800) 774-ICCA, write to 11131 S. Towne Sq., Ste. F, St. Louis, MO 63123, or visit its Web site at www.icca.org