One topic that stimulated some thought provoking conversation at this mornings breakfast was managing a consulting business while developing a product in a startup. Below is a summary of our discussion.

Many early stage software firms start out having to balance their time allocation between consulting to keep the lights on, looking for customers (whether for their product or their consulting services), and developing/finishing the product. Most of the breakfast attendees were able to relate to this situation because it was one that they were currently wrestling with or had previously had to manage.

The consensus: “it’s a real challenge and a very hard problem.”

Some suggestions:

  • Set aside a minimum amount of time for product development so that you make detectable progress every week, or at least every month.
  • Don’t let consulting crowd out development completely, even if you have to forgo some consulting work.
  • Split time between development and looking for consulting work when you are “idle” (don’t have consulting work).