WIC Insights #1: Lessons Learned by Deborah Henken

:: For twenty years, WIC has been helping consultants help themselves through an exchange of ideas, best practices, and networking. In celebration of those countless conversations, this WIC Insight series hopes to share how long-term members learned lessons that applied directly to their business so new members can jumpstart theirs.

Deborah Henken is a business management consultant/marketing strategist at Highland and Team and now an Encore Fellow.

In all that success, Deborah joined WIC twice: to support her consulting business from 2000 to 2006 and then again in 2014 when she went back to consulting after 8 years at Cisco. Both times, Deborah found a community that was there to help each other optimize their business through camaraderie and sharing. She also served as WIC president in 2004-2006. She was quick to share these tried and true lessons from her early WIC years.

How much to charge?

This is one of the first questions to ask yourself and an early WIC member and speaker helped her answer that. Lisa Goldman (link) is a champion of standing for value and Deborah took it to heart: “Capture all your value, realize what value you bring – DO NOT CHARGE hourly but by the project (unless you have some long-term contracts where you might charge a recurring fee). It was a good message to get early on as it helped me build my business, and focus on the value I brought to clients.”

Do I have to sign their contract?

Another invaluable lesson was learned from an attorney who came to speak about contracts. “You think you can’t change that big company’s contract but you should be ready to push back. We changed many contracts to give me better protection. And don’t forget about “force majeure” to make sure you off the hook if a big earthquake hits on your next deadline.”

Are you getting value for your membership?

You get the most from WIC by getting involved in WIC – volunteer for something as involvement builds networks and these are the people you can turn to when you need help in your business. “It’s not just referrals…you’ll meet potential partners for your business with the right expertise, people who can offer you services, people you trust to subcontract to for your specific needs. The WIC-list is great, but knowing people from meetings can lower your risk because you know them, as you expand your business.” During Deborah’s time as WIC president, she built connections with other organizations such as the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs, now Watermark, and was asked to speak on behalf of WIC at universities and other organizations interested in women in business. “I’m a big believer in getting involved, to meet people, make connections and because you never know what opportunities will arise by contributing to WIC.”

Where do you turn when your business scales?

“One of the reasons we started the Leaders Network during my presidency was to provide a place for our most senior consultants to learn about growing and scaling and the issues that arise…for instance, how do you handle an EDD audit, how do you assure tax compliance for employees, how do you manage both W2 and 1099 staff.” Leaders Network helps you solve a whole new host of issues when your business really takes off. You may have been in business for many years but there will always be a learning curve.

Words of Wisdom

“You never know where your career direction will lead you, but you will always need help along the way. Don’t be afraid to ask.”


amyjhuson@gmail.com' About Amy Huson

Amy Huson is a new member of WIC who is just starting her marketing consulting practice. She's focused on marketing strategy reviews and go-to-market planning for small to mid-size companies looking to re-align their digital and traditional marketing practices.

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