Put Our Experience To Work For Your Business

Potential clients are often curious about how we are compensated for our services. We created this page to cover some of the more popular ways we structure this part of the win:win relationship with you. In general, the most common arrangements are flat project fees or retainers for ongoing services with or without "pay-for-performance" commissions.

Flat fee analogies would be hiring a contractor to build an addition onto your home, a mechanic to restore a classic car or a Doctor for a specific surgery, etc. You pay these professionals a certain amount of money to do a well-defined task and they deliver on the contracted service for that flat fee. The big advantage to this form of compensation is that you know the total cost of their services right up front.

Leverage our experienced talent and deep resources to help you aim for much greater success

Retainer analogies would be hiring a lawyer, CPA or similar to work with you over an unknown period of time. Retainer arrangements are very similar to the salary relationship you have with your employees. In these scenarios, you are looking for ongoing professional services and thus you retain professional services by paying a regular (salary-like) fee. Again, the big advantage in this form of compensation is that you know the total monthly cost of services up front.

A typical pay-for-performance incentive variable for either structure would insert a commission. Some of our services that can directly impact revenues or profits are good candidates to optionally link performance of those services to the results they yield for your company. More simply, if you engage BI to help you grow sales you might reduce the fixed fee or retainer cost by adding a commission variable hooked to the resulting sales growth.

The big advantage to including a commission variable is that you get the same quality of work for less fixed cost by letting us share in the potential rewards. If the project doesn't deliver in terms of whatever the residual is based upon (often revenues), then your total cost ends up lower than it would have been had you engaged BI for a fixed fee or fixed retainer arrangement. On the other hand, if the project does deliver, the downside(?) is that the total cost of BI compensation can be much greater than a purely flat fee or retainer arrangement.

Not all entrepreneurs consider the latter much of a downside because the only way we earn that potentially large commission is by putting a much larger amount of revenue in his or her company's coffers. Still, if you've been exposed to a scenario in which- say- a commissioned salesperson manages to make greater total comp than fixed salary executives, you understand the dynamics of pay-for-performance scenarios. As former Presidents & VPs, we've been on your end of this equation many times before and were happy to write commission checks even into the millions when consultant contributions added tens of millions to our revenues. Whether you can be as content about that kind of scenario is a matter of personal choice.

Here's some general detail on the typical ways we are compensated...

1. Flat Project Fee
Some projects can be packaged as a self-contained task with a clearly defined beginning and end. For example, if you hired BI to help you:

  • build a website: the end point would typically be when the website goes live online
  • craft a strategic plan: the end point might be defined as the point at which the plan is completed
  • review your sales or marketing model and provide actionable recommendations to improve it: delivery of those recommendations might mark the end of that project
  • develop a website infomercial, radio or TV commercial or other forms of media-based promotional or educational content: a finished deliverable could conclude that project
  • Etc. (this is not a comprehensive list- just some examples to illustrate the concept)

When the working relationship can be constructed with a clearly-defined end point, a flat project fee is a popular way to structure the engagement.

2. (Smaller) Flat Project Fee + Commission
In this variation of #1, BI does the same kind of work on the same kind of deliverable for a lower fixed fee. In exchange, BI shares in the upside on the deliverable for some mutually-beneficial period of time. Obviously, this kind of arrangement would only apply when the project is aimed at a deliverable(s) that can yield (typically) short-term revenues (on which the commission can be based). A few examples of this kind of project might include:

The key to this arrangement involves options where the outcome is objectively measurable (gross revenues, Ecommerce transactions, new customer acquisitions, subscription renewal revenues, sales of a new product, etc). The size of the flat project fee we seek is directly influenced by the challenge involved in accomplishing the objective to earn the commission, the variable to which the commission is linked and the objectivity with which that variable can be calculated. We welcome win:win structures.

3. Flat Fee Retainer
When the conclusion of an engagement is not as clearly defined (or open-ended by design), the most common way that consultants are paid is via flat fee retainer. This is often set up as a fixed fee to be paid biweekly or monthly (very much like paying valued employees their salary). Good examples of this would be outsourcing a function to BI such as marketing, Emarketing or telesales services, maintaining an ongoing, on-demand consultation-oriented or business-advisory relationship, or simply engaging BI instead of hiring or replacing some employee(s) to cover anything you need related to our core competencies. Odds are that you already have this kind of compensation relationship with other professionals with which you work (your CPA, legal firm, IT services, HR benefits vendor, etc).

4. (Smaller) Flat Fee Retainer + Commission
In this variation of #3, the flat fee retainer is reduced in exchange for BI getting to share in the upside potential of our deliverables or service. Like #2, the biggest key to forging this kind of arrangement is an objectively-measurable variable to which the commission portion of the fee can be linked. Often this would objective, quantitative variables like gross revenues, quantity of new customer acquisitions, etc. This kind of arrangement is similar to how you might pay a sales team with a salary + commission.

5. Other "Creative" Options
Some prospective clients occasionally pitch other options. Popular ones are stock, stock options or various forms of a purely commission-based arrangements. In other words, these clients are asking BI to take on 100% of the risk of fully delivering on our part of a relationship in exchange for only a portion of the potential upside reward- or some future reward- should stock or stock options eventually be worthwhile to convert to cash. Yes, it would be terrific to get expertise in disciplines outside of sales to work solely for a share of some future upside but that's just not how capable, proven professionals outside of the sales profession tend to work.

Sometimes a prospective client pitches joint venture, "sweat equity" and similar arrangements as another way of asking non-sales professionals to deliver their expertise for only future potential. We are generally unable to consider such arrangements as co-ownership leads to obligations as owners that should take priority over the work we do for other clients (with which no such ownership arrangement exists). Such an arrangement could turn BI into a competitor of other clients which would likely alienate those relationships. We choose to run a kind of business that allows us to offer our talents & experience to many clients wanting to grow. We don't covet any such relationship alienation potential. If we wanted to co-own a business in some industry we serve, we would simply fold BI and start a dedicated enterprise as a full competitor... so that we could own 100% of the risk AND 100% of the reward that comes with ownership (rather than owning upwards of 100% of the risk but only a portion of the rewards in joint ventures and similar).

While we never completely rule out creative compensation arrangements, we are generally NOT interested in those kinds of scenarios. Clients too quick to want to give away stock are generally exhibiting a lack of confidence in the future upside value potential of their enterprise; besides, grants of stock or stock options as sole compensation come with a present year tax liability (and the IRS wants to be paid in cash- not a smaller slice of a slice of future upside). Every business would like skilled talent outside of the sales profession to work hard for them solely on commission (we're also interested if YOU want to work that way for BI).

Bottom line: while we're open to considering alternative win:win compensation options, those that stray too far from #1 to #4 are generally unlikely to result in an engagement.

An Easy Way To Raise the Cash to Cover or Subsidize Your Needs

Some clients have big ideas but limited cash on hand. They know they need professional expertise but lack the funds to actually hire anyone to help them. Make no mistake: a big idea alone is highly unlikely to make you rich. There's no ready market for just an idea no matter how good it might be. If your goal is to make money on your big innovation, it needs to be turned into something more tangible to motivate buyers to buy, partners to partner, bankers to loan or investors to invest. To do that, you likely need the help of some capable talent at developing and packaging concepts into something ready to go to market.

Engaging Big Innovations professionals is a very smart, cost-efficient alternative to taking on the many financial & legal obligations of hiring similarly-talented employees. If you are in that "big-idea-but-cash-pinched" scenario, you can engage us to assist with the traditional methods of sourcing capital to back a business or new strategic project. We also offer one other great way to raise the money that won't involve interest payments on loans, signing away a big chunk of the business to investors or partners or even spending much- perhaps any- money out of your pocket. All it takes is leveraging relationships you may have with other entrepreneuers or business decision-makers. Very simply, the Big Innovations referral rewards program offers a discreet way to be paid a share of any new business you refer to our company. We gladly pay out 15% of total first year revenues collected from any new client referrals.

If you know a few business owners or entrepreneurs willing to engage outside talent to help them grow their companies, refer them by sending a few emails or making a few phone calls. All such people are interested in fresh ideas, expertise and energy to help grow their businesses and some of them want to work with objective consultants & contractors like BI to turn their new growth dreams into profitable reality. If they become a new client, we'll be happy to either send you your 15% cut or apply it toward your account. Depending on the engagement size and/or number of referrals, it is quite possible to create a surplus OPM scenario in which we would be paying you to work on your project(s).

How Big Innovations Works With You To Rapidly Grow Your Business

In all scenarios, BI generally operates like a master contractor with fees paying for expertise, execution and valuable knowledge transfers involved in capitalizing on big, growth-oriented innovations for your business. To deliver on your project best-in-class, we manage very talented subcontractor specialists as needed. This is analogous to hiring a master contractor to build you a home and him or her managing the expert subcontractors (plumber, electrician, carpenter, etc.) to do their parts for your project. When- and only when- they need a plumber, they pull in a quality plumber. When- and only when- they need the electrician, they pull them in to do that part. Etc. These dynamic engagements of quality specialists keep the overall cost low because you are not paying for such talent to be idle, awaiting the time when they are actually needed to do their parts. Instead, their costs are realized only when they exercise their specialty talents for you. It's a very cost-efficient way to accomplish any business tasks as opposed to the sometimes idle, full-time staff model.

BI works much like that. For example, if we are engaged to help with a marketing campaign, one of our core team members (one of the 4 people pictured at the top of the page) will be your master contractor equivalent. We pull in specialized "best of" talent such as copywriters, layout artists, list specialists, landing page programmers, videographers, etc- only when each is needed- to do their specific parts involved in putting a great marketing campaign together for you. If we are engaged to build up to a whole website, the master contractor will architect the website with you, then tap expert programmers to code the speced-out website. If you need a strategic plan, we may pull in expert accounting talent for the financials, research talent to conduct market research and so on. These dynamic, on-demand engagements keep our billings to you low while engaging very high quality specialists to work on your projects or campaigns (only) when they are needed. This is key in how we maximize your ROI on a development or marketing budget.

Clients desiring direct interaction with the subcontractors can do so- even pay for their services directly- or they can keep it simple and work through the dedicated point person at BI who manages all such variables for them. The latter will feel very similar to working with the manager of a department(s) and having them handle the nitty-gritty with their reports to get team jobs done. Either way, we would welcome the opportunity to help your business grow and construct a win:win compensation arrangement that best fits your goals and unique situation. We are extraordinarily cost competitive for the quality, experience, attention to detail and comprehensive solutions we bring to each opportunity. FREE consultation

Copyright © 2004-2018 Big Innovations, LLC. The Big Innovations logo and company name are service marks of Big Innovations, LLC. All rights reserved.