Working Lunch: Flat-rate Mini-Consulting

by Elizabeth Spiers

I mentioned in my last newsletter that I wanted to create an affordable consulting option for companies (particularly super-early stage startups) that don’t have the budget for a full engagement but want some specific advice around traffic strategies, launch, business plans and so on. I titled it the Working Lunch Program and described it thusly:

My consulting rates are at market, but steep for small startups, so I’m trying to figure out a way to sustainably work with very early stage companies (which is always fun for me) without creating a prohibitive opportunity cost for myself. One idea–shamelessly stolen from Soft Skull founder Richard Nash, who did a variation of this a few years ago–is a sort mini-engagement built around a working lunch. A lot of people approach me about giving them a bit of one-off editorial feedback, want me to look at a business plan, or want general advice about launching, growing or funding their product. They’re not looking for hands-on down-and-dirty involvement; they just want a gut check or have a problem to be solved. So I’m thinking of creating a program where the client gets three hours of my time (including lunch, which the client pays for, but I don’t care if that’s Chipotle or the Four Seasons) and I charge a flat fee.

Two hours for prep on my part (send me your business plan, product, etc. ahead of time) and one hour for discussion and recommendations. I’d charge a flat fee of $400, which is a slight discount of my lowest hourly rate for three hours. This only makes sense for a certain type of client, but for companies under a certain size, it’s the sort of thing I get approached about the most. So if you’re interested, email me at espiers AT gmail, subject line “Working Lunch.”

It’s worked out pretty well so far, so I’m calling it out here. One thing I’ve learned so far: plan on sending me materials at least 24 hours before the scheduled lunch or I won’t have as much time to review sufficiently. (And it goes without saying that all materials are considered confidential.)