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Modesto, California
United States


Consulting Lessons, Learned by an Engineer

Kirk van Gorkom

I've been a software consultant for the better part of a decade now. First working for the federal government, then smaller governments, then a variety of businesses once I started Forge Apps.

It has been a great ride, largely due to several fantastic bosses who taught me the basics of business while I worked as a software developer fresh from school. Their mentoring set a foundation of skills that over the years has grown into a set that isn't completely embarrassing. At heart, though, I'm an engineer, and while business is definitely my second language, there are techniques that carry over between the two spheres. For example, architecting software will prepare your brain to architect proposals, and testing skills find application in project risk management.

My hope is that the lessons and advice in this series of posts will help you re-examine how you're conducting business and give you new methods to improve the world and your own life at the same time.


For the quick version, see the slides and listen to a talk I gave on this topic in May 2013.


I welcome your questions and feedback via email. I will respond individually as well as in future posts, instead of using comments.
If you think I'm completely wrong about something—or everything—send me a link to your writeup, and I'll post that too.


Inevitably, I'll cloud reality with my own biases and overreactions to painful lessons. Take everything here with a grain of salt and remember that every business is unique. You need to focus on staying profitable while doing what works for you, and don't lose confidence just because other businesses have experienced problems on the same path.