Being a consultant means using your own knowledge and experience to help another business or business owner succeed, and that can be a very fulfilling job. Find out how to start a consulting business and what you’ll need to go from idea to industry leader, starting with these seven steps.
Consultants are considered experts in a specific field. They’re hired to help solve problems that businesses don’t have the bandwidth or knowledge to solve themselves. These businesses typically pay their consultants handsomely, because those consultants offer a ton of value. They may pave the way for a product launch, find ways to save money, or pinpoint problem areas to help improve efficiency and productivity.
As you plan your own career as a consultant, think about what areas or industries you could add the most value to.
Here are some examples of consultancy opportunities and what tasks or goals you might focus on if you choose that path.
Part of creating a consulting business is understanding what certifications and other professional documentation or training you might need to work in your chosen field. These certifications give you more authority and credibility, particularly when the endorsements come from professional organizations already recognized within your industry.
Examples of consultant certifications include:
Starting your own consulting business requires upfront funding. You’ll need to account for quite a few things in your initial budget, which will be built around answers to important questions, including:
Some of these areas will require a certain amount of cash that’s fairly inflexible. For example, you can choose to rent in a high-cost area or a low-cost area, but beyond that, you may likely pay market rates with little room for negotiation.
But there are other areas, like marketing, where you have wiggle room. You can save money by focusing on organic marketing, such as YouTube videos and blog posts, versus investing heavily in paid ads and influencer deals that could quickly drain your resources.
After figuring out what you’ll need to spend to run your business, you need to determine how you’ll bring in the funds to support your endeavors.
Set up a fee schedule or pricing model. This list should be clear, focused, and consistent — no charging two customers two different fees for the same service or product unless there’s a good reason for the difference. Consistency is how you’ll appear trustworthy to your clientele, but also how you’ll more accurately project revenue.
Your pricing should reflect three things:
You’ll also need to decide how you’re collecting money. Investing in a POS system can help keep you organized and smooth the way for processing payments, and you can rely on tech to send invoices and follow-ups on time, too.
Every consultant should operate under contract. A signed contract protects both the consultant (in this case, the contractor) and the client, ensuring everyone is on the same page from the get-go.
A solid, comprehensive consultation contract may include any or all of the following:
Your business plan is your vision put to paper, with plenty of details to help outsiders–such as investors–understand your value proposition, target market, and ideas for your entrepreneurial future.
Your business plan should include lots of financial data as well as a competitive analysis that outlines where you’ll fit within the industry and when you think you’ll start making money — and how much cash it’ll take to get there.
Write a marketing plan, too, that explains how you’ll make your mark and stand out from the crowd. Try to include a wide range of marketing ideas that vary in terms of channel and cost, but be reasonable.
There are plenty of practical details that come with setting up a consulting business, and one of those is actually registering your company. You need to register your business for tax and banking purposes, and also so you can be recognized by the various agencies that will handle things such as licensing and permits.
At a minimum, you’ll need to:
Once you learn how to open a consulting firm, you need to understand how to build your startup into a successful, long-running consultancy.
Use these tips for small business as a starting point:
If you’re looking to start a consulting business, Clover can help. Our business services help streamline operations and position brands just like yours for long-term success. For more information, connect with a Clover Business Consultant today.