Help with small consulting business/sources to find listing for others for sale/sales help etc.

I have been working as a consultant for a number of years,    I have a diverse and pretty extensive background, I basically do server\desktop\network\firewall\VPN\Exchange hosting\DR\Business continuity down to desktop preventive maintenance, builds etc.. Basically whatever is needed.

One of my larger clients has concerne if I were to die where that leave them.  From day one due to my background of managing IT, and staff for companies with multiple location and being a senior IT person prior to consulting. I always put in place what I could to minimize exposure.  I do the same with the current client base.  Admin passwords are on file, all prod servers always covered by contracts with an SLA of on site in 4 hours etc.

This is a difficult one to answer.  They are under the false impression they would be safer with a larger consulting company. They will never get this level of responsiveness/expertise/service/or price.   I would love to grow the business and bring on someone else, or possibly acquire another consulting business, do I try to find a commissioned sales rep?  Or even take over accounts of a small consulting business in the area where the owner was close to retiring, but for the life of me, I am not sure how to find consulting businesses that might be for sale, or someone in a similar situation that I can trust, and would not go after our clients etc.
Surely there are other consultants on this site that are in similar situations.    If you think about it, we are more like an internal partner or high level staff than an external entity because of how we look out for their bottom line, help guide their direction from an IT direction and watch that they only invest in what is beneficial.  We truly look out for their business.
So I can possibly take that approach when I explain it to them, it is more like losing a key employee. So you put safe guards in place. But still need that backup person.  What do you guys think?
I just haven’t any idea where I might start looking for these options.  Thoughts/ideas? Websites that lists/consulting. The client’s comfort level is critical to our business after being a client for about 15 years.
Thanks guys – this site has always been an incredible resource!








 kind of act as virtual CTO for them, doing our best to always look out for what is in the client’s best interest first, NEVER sell try and sell them on something that would not benefit them, and keeping a watchful eye on where/how they spend their money on IT related needs. This has helped build an incredibly high level of trust.
Sure I can tell them if I were to retire or move on, I would do a knowledge transfer without a doubt and I would like to believe that would satisfy them. The challenging question to answer is, how do I respond to them in regards to their question if I were to get struck by lightning etc?
I am basically a one man company trying to build up the business, but it is challenging to do so. Need help with sales, perhaps hire a commissioned sales rep?  Or where might I find another small time guy to partner with so we can cover each other’s backs?  Yet another option might be to find someone selling a small consulting company in the area that wants out due to burn out or retiring.
I just haven’t any idea where I might start looking for these options.  Thoughts/ideas? Websites that lists/consulting
I need for them to be comfortable, they are critical to our business after being a client for about 15 years.
Thanks guys – you have always been an incredible resource!
LICOMPGUYAsked:
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I have been an independent consultant for over 15 years now. I have a colleague (not affiliated with me). He now does most of the IT consulting, and I do mostly Financial consulting now.

We keep records (mostly electronic) that our clients have. I will likely be gone in a year or so and I am making handover notes.

We can be reached all the time and we know our clients so they are very happy with our service. We sometimes use consultants to help with things and we have drifted to smaller consultants for continuity. Large companies send different people and that is time consuming for us to bring such people up to speed.

I suggest you talk this way with your clients and make sure they remain comfortable with your service.

Small business consulting is very rewarding.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
I'm consultant in the Long Island/New York area - I run two user groups where, for years, I've encouraged others to attend.  One, the New York Small Business Specialists (Formerly the New York Small Business Server) is almost exclusively IT consultants of 1-5 man shops servicing clients in the NY Metro area.  Some guys are in Westchester, some in Jersey, some on Long Island, some in NYC.  We back each other up.  During Hurricane Irene 7 years ago, a member of our group who was also an EMT lost his life.  That could have screwed his clients.  But thanks to other members of our group and the RMM company (GFI), his clients were cared for.  It wasn't smooth.  But we spoke of the tragedy and how to protect our clients at the group.  Though hardly as catastrophic, while I was on vacation a couple of weeks ago, I had a client with a major problem that resulted in lost internet.  Another member of the group responded to the call within hours and the issue was resolved.  At least in the NY metro area, the members of our groups are honorable and respectful of each other and help each other out allowing our one man IT shop to work and us to take a vacation without worrying about what might happen if.

I would strongly advise you to look into groups in your area and partner with other independent consultants.  That doesn't mean merge (though that has happened with members of the group).  That means recognizing that you, despite all your skills, may not have expertise in ALL areas and may not have the resources to be in two places at once when disaster strikes two clients at once.  But having partners - or better still, a team of people who you have come to know and respect who you can call to cover you and help out is truly invaluable.  And if need be, you can bring a couple of consultants with you to the client and introduce them.  Tell your client that "Joe" and "Mike" run their own IT companies.  In the event of an emergency - or I get hit by a bus - these guys can pick up where I left off and you are not left without support.
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LICOMPGUYAuthor Commented:
Gents
Thanks so much for the info.
Lee - this is huge, this is exactly what I am looking for. How do I find out more? I didn't see a url when I did a quick search.

How can I find out more, this seems like exactly what I need!
I am in Western Suffolk.  When/whee do meetings take place?
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
The NYSBS Meetings take place at the Microsoft Conference Center in Manhattan (Times Square).  Meetings are 2nd Wednesday of the month.  This meeting is almost ALL consultants (typically 10-20 show up depending on content).  The NYSBS group has a mailing list with over 300 members - www.nysbs.net has a link to join.  Registration for the next meeting is available here:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nysbs-september-meeting-tickets-49707848513

The Windows Admin Group meets TYPICALLY at my office conference room in Plainview.  First Thursday of the month.  This meeting isn't just consultants.  Windows Administrators / Network Administrators with "day jobs" also attend.  It's also usually a smaller meeting (8-12 people most of the time).  There is no mailing list or website for this group at this time (I do plan on setting one up... eventually).  Registration is available at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/windows-admins-of-long-island-september-meeting-tickets-49708389130

Both meetings are free.  NYSBS REQUIRES registration to get into the building.  Windows Admin is optional but requested.
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LICOMPGUYAuthor Commented:
Hey there

With my schedule it may be difficult to get to NY, but this sounds very interesting. What do you suggest, show up meet/mingle - how would it work when it comes to developing trust, is there a Non-compete required as part of participating.
Lee - thanks for everything.
This actually could be beneficial by filling in any voids in billable times by potentially helping others as well.
I can't think you enough.  One of my many hats is a Windows admin (for multiple sites), so I more than meet the requirements.
Thanks!!!
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LICOMPGUYAuthor Commented:
Lee

Not sure if I would want to introduce them as owners/consultants from other companies, that may still give the impression of small, but perhaps they could go in as if they work for us etc., I have done that before in the past for other consulting companies. What are your thoughts?  Know of any good resources for an iron clad non-compete etc?
Thanks!
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
The NYC meeting is (relatively speaking) more business-like.  With so many of us active as consultants we have plenty to talk about.  When one of the members is able, he presents a slide show of news, trends, tips, business info, etc.  In my opinion, this is one of the BEST parts of the meeting.  When he is not able, I try to do a comparatively half-assed job of doing the same thing (I don't mean I try to make it half-assed, just that my version isn't as good as his).

The Long Island meeting grew out of a Powershell Study group formed by Island Labs (a maker group).  I've essentially taken over the meeting and it's largely a separate and distinct thing, though there are still a few island labs members that show up.  Some of those attending go because they can't make the NYC meeting.  

I would argue that the NYSBS meeting, when we have something specific planned, is one you should make an effort to attend.  September's meeting does not (YET) have a specific presentation at NYSBS though in the past year I've had security experts and others present on several topics.

I attend 4 meetings regularly.  the two we've spoken of and the Long Island Linux User Group (FAR less business oriented) which meets at Digital Ballpark in Plainview on the Second Tuesday of the month and the Security and Infrastructure Special Interest Group (SISIG) of LILUG which meets on the third Tuesday of the month at Panera Bread at the Walt Whitman Mall/Shops.  I've picked up clients from ALL except SISIG, but to me, it's about networking. And many folks attend more than one group.  

Honestly, and to be fair, I wouldn't necessarily say you should jump right in and partner with someone.  You need to get to know folks - get comfortable with them.  In most cases, I was attending these groups for at least a year before I called on anyone to help me out... and before anyone called on me... These days, there are folks I would ABSOLUTELY call on... and folks I would think twice about... but you get to know who's who and in some cases, I don't have good reasons... just a gut feeling.  I can't recall ANYONE in any of the groups complaining about a client being stolen from them.  Though I do know on occasion two members were up against one another for a potential new client.  

Obviously I can't speak for everyone in the group and you can only take my word for it short of meeting us and forming your own opinion, but I have a policy that I will not burn a fellow consultant.  For example, if you bring me in as a fill in or for an emergency and for some reason your client says I want to fire LICOMPGUY and hire you instead, my response is thanks, but I won't accept you as a client for 6 months.  If they can survive without IT support for 6 months I'll come in... but I will not be an immediate replacement for you without your blessing.  I expect others who fill in for me to have a similar "policy".  Look at it this way... we all help each other... at least that's the goal... if you (or I) steal a client, EVERYONE in the group will know about it because we'll warn everyone to NOT get your help for anything... doing something dishonorable affects your professional reputation and as a result, puts you at a disadvantage.

Maybe TMI... but I can write... some times too much.

With everyone I've helped and everyone who has helped me, I don't think I've ever signed or had signed a non-compete agreement.  I wouldn't have a problem doing so... and maybe one day not having one will burn me... but I like to think I use only people I find skillful and honorable and so far, it hasn't been an issue.  I also don't have a problem "working" for you in an emergency... but I don't use other people's email (It's just too much of a hassle)... if I'm ever forced to communicate with your client on your behalf, it comes from my email address... just saying...

At this point, I'd say probably best to take this offline.
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LICOMPGUYAuthor Commented:
You have me sold - how do we take it off line.
Thanks
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
I sent you a message. via EE's system.
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LICOMPGUYAuthor Commented:
Gents

Much!  My eyes and ears are still open for any other suggestions anyone may have.  John, thank you, Lee I will be attending your meetings asap.
Regards
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