I subscribe to a lot (I mean a lot!) of online newsletters. It seems businesses are all struggling/grappling with similar conceptual issues. One post I read recently at www.ConstructionDeal.com was along the lines of how to maintain your business; not “maintenance” like change the air filters but how to keep the steady supply of projects. The article, titled “When to Be Blunt,” essentially believes we can all be nice guys and wait and wait and wait for the word “go” but while we’re waiting, the bills aren’t necessarily getting paid. The article advocates when to be blunt (of course after initial meetings, describing how you can assist, preparing/presenting your proposal, then how to close the deal). Ask open-ended questions, then narrow down until you can ascertain when they may be ready to go. At some point the article advocates asking, “What is stopping you for putting us under contract today?” or “Does my firm have any chance of getting this project?” or the uncomfortable-zone maker, “Can you afford to build this project?”—a nudge like that might be helpful. In my house (with three dogs and three kids) it’s very easy to be blunt; they all know when it’s time to “finish their business and get off the potty” (or go outside, depending on if they use two or four legs). Anyway, in the past month, I have spent my [nonbillable] time preparing 12 proposals, to have only two proceed to contract. Of those that didn’t “go,” two have not returned phone calls (nice karma to you too buddy, thanks for wasting my time!), four are on hold pending better economic conditions, three were generic noncommittal responses, and one went to “another architect who is cheaper” but at least that owner was honest! After that analysis, I’m not surprised at the how they panned out. Realistically, I knew which ones were wasting my time; I just didn’t want to be blunt for starters (hmmm, maybe I should change that).