How to Start a Consulting Business

Do you want to start a side consulting business but don’t know how? Have you ever thought about how much work it would be to do that in addition to your full-time job?  It is possible to learn how to start a consulting business on the side, but it requires discipline and hard work. Let’s dive in.



What Is A Consultant & How Do You Start a Consulting Business These Days

A consultant in the business world is someone who provides professional advice and expertise in a certain area. Consultants can be hired to help with anything from how you brand yourself, how your company should run or how it can improve its operations, etc. Getting hired and paid for your services is a critical step in how to start a consulting business.

How to Start a Consulting Business

What Is A Consulting Business?

A consulting business is generally a small business that specializes in providing advice and expertise to other businesses or individuals.

3 Things You Need for a Successful Consulting Business

Successful Consultants Have A Compelling Value Proposition

The first step is to figure out how you can provide value and what your compelling value proposition (CVP) will be.  Start by asking yourself:

What industry do you have expertise in? What problem does that field face, and how are they currently solving it? How can you solve this issue better than anyone else?

Decide how your skills and expertise can benefit clients. How could they use your service to grow their business?

What Are Your Clients’ Needs and Desires?

Next, you need to know how you will provide value so that you can market yourself properly. To do this, ask: Who is the ideal client for my consulting business? What do they need? What are their goals and how can you help them achieve those goals?

Whatever your CVP is, it should be the one thing that makes you different from any other company in your field. It’s what clients will pay for when it comes to hiring a consultant.

Successful Consulting Businesses Target A Specific Niche

Consulting for a Niche MarketYour consulting business will be most successful if you target a specific niche and become an authority in that field so clients come to you for help with their problems rather than doing research on the internet themselves. If possible, define how big of a market there is for this type of service or how much demand there is for it.

When trying to determine the specific niche to target, focus on the niches you already know something about.  Make a list of them then go down that list and figure out which ones are expanding and which ones have the types of problems or opportunities that you can help with.

You’ll need to know your niche market’s needs and desires.  How can you help them? Once you determine what problems they face, figure out where you fit in.  For example, how could you solve those issues better than anyone else with your expertise?

The more specific that niche is the better. If there are only a few companies in this field, then it will be easier for clients to recognize how valuable your service is compared with others who provide similar services.

All in all, you’ll need to get very clear on what skills you already have and what industry knowledge you already possess.

Ultimately, your skills need to be at the level where you can solve specific problems for a specific subset of people or companies.  This is all about providing value in the market.  Your income will directly reflect the amount of value you provide.

Successful Consulting Businesses Have A Repeatable System For Attracting Clients

Once you decide how to provide value, how many clients do you need each month?

Let’s say you want to onboard 5 new clients every month.  It’s time to develop a process for attracting these 5 clients again and again.

In order to onboard 5 new clients each month, you’ll need to calculate how many prospects you’ll need to talk to or have your sales conversation with.  Some of this will come down to how effective you are at sales.  If you have a good closing rate, you’ll need fewer prospects and vice versa if you suck at selling.

So, how will you actually get these prospects into your pipeline?  That’s where the repeatable processes begin.

Consulting.com provides a good repeatable system for filling your consulting practice with clients.

The system begins with identifying the problem to solve for the client, and then creating a value proposition.

Choosing an Advertising Channel

Once you are set with your value proposition, you’ll need to pick an advertising and marketing channel.  Will you rely on organic search, word of mouth or referrals, Google PPC or Facebook Ads?

Let’s look at these methods.  Organic search is going to take quite some time to establish plus it’s not very predictable.  For a repeatable system to be successful you will need some predictability.

Word of mouth or referrals is also not as reliable or predictable nor is it scalable.

Google PPC and Facebook Ads are a better advertising channel because it’s fast, predictable and scalable.

Website or Landing Page?

In order to get your consulting business off the ground, don’t make the mistake of thinking you need to dump thousands of dollars or hundreds of hours on developing a full website.

All you need is a landing page.  On that landing page, it’s a good idea to have a video of you talking about your value proposition.  The video should also have a clear call to action.

The call to action should simply be “schedule an appointment.”  The only link you would need on this landing page is one that leads to your appointment scheduling software.  Calendly or Acuity Scheduling are good resources for this.

The Sales Call

Finally, you get to talk to your prospect, take them through your sales conversation and close the deal.

If this is a difficult step for you in the client attraction system, consider investing in the Consulting.com course.  It’s comprehensive and will take you from A to Z to building your consulting business on the side.

Another decent resource can be found here: How to Start a Consulting Business

Successful Consultants Have The Right Mindset

Mindset for Consulting BusinessWhat is the mindset for business success? It’s making a decision to succeed. And then having the discipline and patience to follow through with things you’re working on at all times.

A successful consultant rewires their mentality by deciding that they want it, knowing what needs to be done in order to get there, and doing it despite how hard it might be.

Is the consulting market only filled with people who are willing to work hard? No, there are consultants out there who aren’t working as hard at success because they haven’t made a decision about what their life will look like when they get where they want to go—and that’s okay! Not all of us need to be ready to work hard.

This might sound a little harsh, but the people who don’t decide that they’re going to succeed and then do what needs to be done in order for it happen will likely never earn more than $60k-$80k per year in their business.

Most Common Consulting Specialties

Here are just 10 examples of common consulting specialties:

– SEO Consulting. A lot of people are interested in how to use search engine optimization (SEO) techniques for their website or business because this is how they will get discovered online. The great thing about many SEO consultants is that they are able to offer both on-page optimization and off-page optimization.

– Social Media Consulting. Social media marketing has become one of the most popular forms of online advertising over the past few years because it allows businesses to connect with their audience in real time. It’s also how people communicate about companies these days, whether it’s good or bad.

– Content Marketing Consulting. This is how businesses are able to make their website more unique and easier to find by using blog posts, articles, videos and other types of content marketing strategies. It allows companies the opportunity to market themselves in a very different way than traditional forms of online advertising such as paid ads on Google or Facebook.

– Conversion Rate Optimization Consulting (CRO). These consultants help businesses increase sales by helping them make their websites more enticing through better conversion rates, which is how many people who visit a website end up buying something or filling out the contact form on that site. This has become very important for companies because it allows customers to actually make a purchase on the website.

– Social Selling Consulting. This is how businesses are able to sell their products and services more effectively through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others that allow for two way conversations with potential customers. Instead of just posting updates or sending out tweets about your business, you can actually engage in conversation with people who are interested in what you have to offer.

– Business Strategy Consulting Services. A lot of consultants will help businesses get on the right track by developing or reworking their business strategy, which is how they formulate how they plan to achieve success and handle anything that falls outside of how it should be done according to your current model for doing things.

– Sales Consulting. This is how businesses are able to grow their customer base by making better use of the sales team they have already built or developing a new one, which can be challenging for many companies because not everyone feels comfortable talking with potential customers about how much something costs and how it works. Some people might feel like this is uncomfortable, but it’s how you get more business.

– Financial Consulting Services. This is how businesses are able to grow their profits by helping the company understand how much money they have coming in and where that money goes at any given moment, which can be very helpful for companies who do not always know how well (or poorly) things are going.

– Product Sourcing/Development Consulting Services. This is how businesses are able to find a way to develop new products and services, whether it’s helping them source the right product or creating their own unique marketing strategy that will help sell what they have created in order for it be successful on its own. If you’re looking into becoming an entrepreneur, you might want to think about how this can be part of your overall business strategy.

– Business Process Reengineering Consulting Services. This is how businesses are able to become more efficient by looking at how they do things now compared with how they did them in the past and coming up with a better way for doing what needs done so that it takes less time and effort. This is how companies are able to cut costs, which should be a priority for anyone who wants their business to succeed in the long term.

10 Tips for Success in Building Your Consulting Business

Get Clear on Your Specialty

When considering how to start your consulting business, it is important to pick a specialty. There’s an old saying that goes “The riches are in the niches.”  This is very true for consulting businesses too.

Specializing in a niche will also help you stand out from the crowd.  You can work on branding yourself as the go to person for this or that.

Know Where to Find Those That will Hire You

One of the best ways to find those that will hire you is to use Facebook Ads.  The audience targeting you can do there is incredible.

Once you define your niche, you should be able to narrow down and describe your ideal client.  Where do they hang out?  What do they do? Once you identify this, go get them.

Know How to Price Services

Pricing Your Consulting Business ServicesPricing services is always a tough area.  You want clients but you don’t want to undercharge.

You should create different packages of services with different price points.  Save the highest price point for your all inclusive service.

Don’t make the mistake of trying to charge per hour.  Instead, charge in relation to the amount of value you provide your clients.

Create Service Packages at Different Levels

As mentioned previously, create packages at different levels, different levels of pricing.  This makes you exclusive yet inclusive.  Your highest priced packages can make your clients feel exclusive to you while your lower priced packages can help include others that really want to work with you in some capacity but can’t at your higher prices.

Start your service package creation with the highest level.  In this package include all of your services, problem solving solutions and value as you possibly can.  Put your highest price tag on it.

Then, for your middle level, take a few things out of your highest package and reduce the price accordingly.

Then, of course for your lower level package do the same thing.  Take some things out of your middle package.  But you still need to include value.

Acquire Proper Licenses and Registrations

One of the biggest mistakes consultants make is not getting their proper licenses and registrations.  You must have any required business licensing, professional designations or even security clearances necessary for your clients to hire you.

Develop a Solid Referral Program

Even though the fastest, most predictable method of attracting clients will be Facebook Ads, creating a good referral program is still a smart move.

Referral programs are very effective ways to get new business.  Be creative, think outside of the box and give something away for referrals that your clients will appreciate but won’t break your bank account.

Put Contracts in Place

Whether you are an employee or a consultant, put contracts in place.

Think of how many times someone has said “We’ll get that to you by the end of next week.”  How often does that actually happen? Never.

Put it all down on paper with clearly defined deadlines and expectations among other things. Put yourself in your client’s shoes and think how they will feel when you deliver.

Create a Business Structure that

If you will be doing consulting as a business, how that business is structured can affect how much taxes you pay and how your clients perceive the work.

Do it right from day one so there are no surprises down the road when tax time comes around again.

Write a business plan

Write a business plan that includes how much time you can dedicate each week to your consulting business and what the results will be. For example, how many hours per month should you expect to spend on marketing? How many clients do you want at the end of one year and how much revenue should it generate for you? You need to know these numbers before diving into a new venture so you can set reasonable expectations for yourself.

Get Proper Insurance for Your Consulting Business

One of the first things you will need to do when starting your consulting business is get proper insurance. Many people make the mistake of thinking they are covered through their employer’s benefits plan, but this isn’t true. Consultants should have professional liability coverage in case a client feels that their advice was not followed or how it negatively impacted them financially. You should also get disability insurance in case you are unable to work for a period of time or if you become permanently disabled. Finally, consultants need business liability coverage which will protect their equipment and office space from damage caused by vandalism or fire.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is doing side jobs illegal?

No, doing side jobs is not illegal. However, you should check how your employer feels about outside work before venturing down the consulting path as it could put their job at risk even if they do allow employees to engage in such activities.

Can my employer fire me for working a second job?

While it is uncommon for employers to fire an employee simply because they are working a second job, how your employer feels about you doing outside work may depend on how much time and effort the side business requires. It also depends if any conflicts of interest arise as well as how many hours per week you spend at each job.

Is starting a consulting business hard?

Yes, starting a consulting business is hard. It requires time management skills to make sure you are doing everything correctly and effectively as well as how much responsibility you feel comfortable with when it comes to your clients.

What qualifications do you need to be a consultant?

There are no specific qualifications you need to be a consultant. However, most clients will want consultants with some experience as how they know how trustworthy your advice is and how well you can solve problems related to the business.

Do consultants make a lot of money?

Consultants can make a lot of money depending on how good they are and how many clients they have. Some consultants even earn six figures per year because their expertise is highly sought-after by businesses all over the world.

Are consulting businesses profitable?

Consulting businesses can be very profitable. As how much money you make will depend on how good you are and how many clients hire your services, it's important to develop a niche or specialization as this is what sets consultants apart from one another.

Can you start a consulting business with no experience?

Yes, you can start a consulting business with no experience. However, how much money you make will depend on how good your advice is and how many clients hire your services. It's important to develop a niche or specialization as this is what differentiates consultants from one another.

How much experience do you need to start consulting?

You don't need much experience to start consulting because how good your advice is will indicate how many clients hire you for your services. However, it's important to develop a niche or specialization as this is what differentiates consultants from one another and how much money you can make.

How much money do you need to start a consulting business?

The answer will depend on many things. If you are looking for a quick start up, then you need to have at least $5,000 in cash plus another $10,000 to cover business expenses or salaries if necessary during the first year. This amount is not just needed to survive the first year but it's required for tax purposes in being considered an independent entity without being subject to payroll taxes and Social Security. But don't let that hinder you because many successful consultants started with no money.

Can I be a consultant and have a full-time job?

Yes, but you need to realize that there are tradeoffs. Many consultants only have a paying client one day out of the week or less during slower months. The person would need to have enough income from their primary position so they don't drain their family's resources.

Can I do consulting on the side?

Virtually anything in this day and age can be done on the side. Smartphones and wifi connections allow people for example to work from almost anywhere in the world with minimal fuss. There are several different forms of consulting, so it'll depend on what you want to do. The most common form is IT consulting, where someone's per hour rate might vary between $75 - $125 an hour depending on experience and location. Other types would be disaster recovery or project management consulting which might require more specialized qualifications since they're only offered by discrete firms with explicit competencies that their consultants need to complement. Consulting is great for making flexible hours because days align around projects and not vice versa (of course this also means no paid vacation time).

How do I start my own consulting business?

While somewhat rare, you can still find some companies offer "boot camps" where they'll train you to become a consultant. More often than not though you will need to do it on your own, put together a consulting portfolio and do some cold-calling to get started.

How do I become a side hustle consultant?

The easiest way to get started with a side hustle consulting business is to identify something you have expertise in, find out how much money it would take someone to buy that knowledge from you, and charge between two and five thousand dollars for your services.

Final Thoughts on How to Start a Consulting Business

We have a great resource for anyone interested in learning how to start a consulting business. We’ve covered everything you need to know about building your consulting business. After reading this article, there should be no doubt that you have the skillset needed to succeed as an entrepreneur or consultant. If you are ready to take the next step towards running your own consultancy firm, visit Consulting.com and take advantage of $500 off that program through this link. We have found they have the best program in place to help you start and become a wildly successful consultant.

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    Chris is a busy mom of two, who loves to tinker with computers and read in her free time. Her knowledge of what it takes to start up a business especially businesses that operate on the internet has helped many people from around the world. Chris often shares her experience as an online entrepreneur and business coach, speaking at events all over about how she created multiple successful businesses and profitable websites. She also offers advice on how people can build their own business website or blog for very little money, while still maintaining quality content.

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