Planning on starting an independent consulting business? Start planning in advance and start building relationships to be a successful business consultant. When aspiring to start a consultancy, the primary rule is to connect and build good relationships.
According to Bloomberg, the consulting business is a $39.3 billion per year one.
Consulting involves meeting face to face and talking to people. People will hire you because you have some knowledge to deliver in a specific niche.
You’re basically selling yourself by becoming a consultant. You provide solutions that help companies meet their goals.
There are different types of consultants specializing in various fields. For instance, there are IT business consultants; consultants in healthcare; environment; business consulting services and management, tourism, education, and so on.
You can be a freelance consultant or an independent business consultant from home or join consulting companies.
Starting a Consulting Business: The Job
- Having knowledge or expertise in a specific subject/market
- Learning what the client wants, the company’s mission, becoming familiar with company materials
- Identifying problems, opportunities, areas for change and improvement
- Training other employees
- Providing objective feedback to the owner
- A basic Bachelor’s degree or preferably a Master’s degree in a business field or something related
- Become a certified consultant, with certification from the IMC, US. It is not mandatory but adds credibility to your profile
- Good communication skills and critical thinking skills
- Good management and organizational skills
Getting Started Setting Up a Consultancy
- Create your website showcasing your niche specialization before joining consulting firms in your niche
- Develop a presence in social media. Post content showing your prowess in your chosen field of specialization.
Tip: Many companies go through social media content before enlisting services.
- Create an email list for your consulting business
- Start consulting business by contacting local companies. Whatever your niche, there is bound to be a local business that could use your specialization.
- Check out local journals for businesses in your city, while trying to start a consulting agency
- Another smart way to pitch is to check out companies who are hiring employees in your particular niche or what you are consulting in. For instance, check out sites like Monster or Indeed to check out the demand for your specialization.
- How to start a consulting business? Select a suitable consulting business model. For instance:
- Decide on the size of your company, whether you want to go solo, join a consultancy firm, or wish to create a firm with three or four employees or even more. There are plenty of independent consultant opportunities as well.
- Try out different models as well. You could sell a project worth $50000 to a corporate and even sell another project just worth $3000.
Tip: If you are a social media or digital consultant, you could target Best Buy, as they can offer several opportunities. Check out the jobs posted on Indeed and send your pitch to them.
- Create a proposal for your consulting business project, outlining your ideas and how it could benefit these companies in improving their bottom line, while trying for a job as a business advisor
Tip: Back up your proposal with proper research, data and statistics.
- Call up the business and set up a meeting with decision makers
- Once you have a few successful gigs, you can use it as leverage and move on to bigger companies
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Tips for Writing Out Proposal for Your Consulting Business
Tip: Learn how to use PowerPoint and Excel to create professional slides.
- Use apps like Proposify to create a streamlined proposal and get more consulting business
- Don’t reinvent the wheel each time! Use email templates, or proposal templates, so that you don’t have to repeat general information every time for different clients
Selecting Your Niche Based on Individual Consulting Skills
Identify your niche or key market depending on your qualifications, knowledge, experience and expertise.
- Check out the competition in your niche. Opt for another niche if the competition is too much, as otherwise you’ll only get a smaller share of the pie.
- Select a niche, which is complex and not a routine task. For a routine task, companies are more likely to turn to regular employees. Select niches that are normally lacking in average employee abilities.
- After selecting your niche, don’t be too specific within it. For instance, if your niche is offering HR services to hospitals, don’t target only surgeons. Instead, try targeting the whole medical industry.
Pricing it Right
You don’t want to undersell yourself. Neither do you want to lose out on a gig due to overpricing. Whatever consultancy you select, web designing, IT consultant and so on, there will come a time when you have to set prices for services rendered.
- Don’t keep it too low. Companies generally feel they’re getting inferior service when the rates are low.
- Consider factors like office rent; software and marketing expenses and also the time spent while naming your price. Also, consider startup costs.
- You can charge based on per project or on an hourly basis.
- Check out the prices charged by your competitors.
Tips for a Successful Consulting Business
It’s not enough landing a consultant job with a firm.
- Start networking, if you haven’t already done so.
- Meet with colleagues and other employees. Attend office events
- Learn essential or specific skills needed for the particular consultancy job
- Follow the company news and blogs keenly
Tip: Set up a Google alert for the particular firm to get recent updates on financial performance and so on while in a consulting business.
Whatever your niche in the consulting business, honesty is of prime importance in a consultancy job. Promise less and deliver more, instead of vice versa. Give a clear picture to your clients about what they can expect from you.
Consultancy business involves a lot of hard work and sweat plus a lot of coffee:) on the side. You might have to pitch several companies before you get your first consulting gig. Embrace these tips and you’re well on your way to a successful career in consultancy.
So then, what are you waiting for? Pick your niche, roll up your sleeves and get down to it.