Bryan Alexander Consulting, after eight years

Eight years ago Ceredwyn and I launched a business, Bryan Alexander Consulting.  Which is astonishing.  That’s nearly a decade.  As a friend said, soon we’ll have to send BAC to college.

We’ve been very transparent about our work, sharing as much information as we can, barring legal limits and client wishes.  Every year since 2013* I’ve blogged about BAC’s progress. Hopefully that gives people some insight into what we do here.

BAC logoIf you’re new to BAC, it’s a small consultancy focused on the future of higher education.  We help clients (colleges, universities, associations, nonprofits, governments, businesses) understand and plan for where academia might be headed.  To this end we conduct and share research through a variety of channels, while also offering consulting on spec.

Overall, right now we’re actually doing well.  Revenues are at a record high for us, although so are working hours.  Because of the pandemic we haven’t done any in-person work, which is a financial loss, since fees for each in-person presentation tend to two-three times virtual events, yet we’ve done a higher volume of them, leading to a new increase. The pandemic transition to entirely online work accomplished in spring 2020, everything since has proceeded smoothly on the logistics backend. On the front end, video events occur daily, while asynchronous work (research, writing, etc.) takes place continuously.

We continued to add new clients and to serve preexisting ones.  The overwhelming interest has been how higher ed responds to COVID-19 and what comes next.

With the new fiscal year starting in July we’ll increase fees for all services. This reflects inflation, rising demand, and also the enormous demands on my time.  Virtual events will be $3000 per day; consulting, $3000 per business day of time; in-person presentations and keynotes at scale, $9000; expenses billed as needed.

At the same time, I’m considering a senior discount for the FTTE report; I’m curious what you all think of that.

Speaking of revenue, this is what 2020-2021 looked like:

BAC revenues 2021 June

Obviously working with clients represents the supermajority of income. For the past year that has included speaking engagements, facilitation, workshops, small presentations, consulting, and teaching university classes.

Patreon and FTTE are growing, albeit slowly.  Royalties are higher than ever (hello, Academia Next!), but clearly have room to grow.

Besides transactional services, I continue to conduct other work for free.  Social media is some of that, notably Twitter and LinkedIn, podcast interviews, and this very blog. The Future Trends Forum continues to grow audience and win fine reviews, all for free.  I keep doing this for a few reasons. First, this is a way for me to share my thoughts and, better yet, improve them through interaction with you all. Second, writing, speaking, etc. sharpen my thinking.  Third, all of the open content is a kind of marketing, although we haven’t really established how well it works – i.e., does the Forum drive would-be clients?

Speaking of the Forum, I finally gave it its own site.  Surprisingly this took more time than I expected, because I had to learn the new WordPress “blocks” editor.  I really don’t like it, but it’s useful to know, and now I’m accustomed to it, mostly.

Looking ahead to fiscal 2021-2022:

  • Continued service offerings.
  • Fee increases, as above.
  • A hunt for sponsors for the free stuff.
  • I’ll keep teaching at Georgetown, so long as they let me.

Some operational and strategic choices are now on the table.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Smoother paperwork In person events are coming back as the pandemic withdraws, and we’re thinking of a little paperwork revision. Normally we billed for our fee, plus expenses – i.e., travel, lodging, food, printing, etc. This can become tedious and fiddly, so we’re thinking of just building expenses into a larger fee, based on cost estimates. This is simpler for everyone.

Gaming This has become a feature of my teaching, part of research, and has also crept into some facilitation.  I’ve used other people’s games, introduced games into online events (for example), and have started creating my own (for example) (another tiny one).  Where should I take this? For example, should I publish a game in some way, keep doing research, or…?

COVID-19 From the first outbreak in Hubei province I was on the story, tracking it very closely.  Higher ed had a crying need for intelligence on the pandemic and I was in a good position to provide.  Now that infections and deaths are dropping, especially in some nations, the focus shifts to what comes next, and I should follow suit. Indeed, I’ve been there for months.

Climate change My next book’s manuscript continues to grow by thousands of words each day. More research, interviews, examples appear each day. If all goes well Universities on Fire will appear in 2022. If I’m right about the climate crisis being a major force shaping academia’s future, and if people receive the new book positively, then BAC work may follow. Indeed, climate change research and consulting could become a major focus for the firm. We might have to take on associates for that purpose. Speaking of which…

An Associations option We could start publicly bringing in folks to do work along the lines of their specialties, especially for skillsets we don’t have in-house. Beyond climate change, we could consider professionals who could advise clients on IT management, library strategy, media services, curricular redesign, financial operations, student services, and so on.  We could add capacity for things I already do, such as futures work, pedagogy, or digital storytelling. BAC could become BAC Associates.  And speaking of association

Partners I’d like to partner more frequently with other entities.  We’ve done a little of this, such as through sponsorships and Future Trends Forum events.  We could do more, where another group and BAC have complimentary interests.

Now, if you’re interested in all of this and would like to engage BAC’s services, do visit the site and let us know what we can do for you. If you would just like to support this independent futures enterprise, which offers a lot of free content to the world, consider subscribing (for free!) to us on YouTube, subscribing to FTTE, or supporting us on Patreon.

I’d like to thank the many people and institutions who have powered BAC through continued success. That means our awesome clients, many readers, participants in all kinds of live events, and our terrific supporters.

What do you all think of this update?

*Previous BAC reflections can be found here: 2020, 2019, 2018201720162016201520142013.

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1 Response to Bryan Alexander Consulting, after eight years

  1. Joe Murphy says:

    Glad to see continued success for BAC!

    The “senior discount” for the FTTE is an interesting idea. I infer that the goal is to encourage participation by late-career or retired folks, and keep them feeling welcome in the community. I like that. It seems to open the door to some other questions, though, like whether there should be a general “for people making less than $X” price to cover grad students, adjuncts, scholars in developing nations, etc. (Note: asking that question does not imply you need to answer it before you introduce a senior discount.)

    I’m always in favor of streamlining paperwork. As someone who hosts a lot of speakers, I like the idea of a single, predictable fee instead of waiting to find out what the travel receipts will be. (I’ve never had anyone fly first class or order lobster for breakfast, but it would be nice not to worry.) I suppose some folks might be mad if they pay you $300 and you only spend $250 but that sounds penny-wise, pound-foolish to me. You might want an escape clause to cover things like weather delays which force you into another night in a hotel… is that your host’s cost? Or maybe the fee includes a bit of insurance, and if it comes up, you just eat that bill.

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