When starting a consulting business you will be providing your knowledge and expertise to help solve a problem or need. A consultant is considered an expert in a particular industry or field. Your clients can range from individuals to small businesses to large corporations depending on the type of consulting work you choose to do. There are various types of consultants ranging from interior designer to beauty consultant to business consultant. When starting a consulting business your clients will expect you to be knowledgeable in your field of expertise and offer useful advice. A client may also seek consulting services to identify problems, gain a new perspective, get advice for solutions to a problem, develop business strategies or provide teaching services.
Types of Consultants
- Marketing Consultant
- Beauty Consultant
- Business Consultant
- Investment Consultant
- Career Consultant
- Relationship Consultant
- College Advice
- Nutrition Consultant
- Interior Design Consultant
- Human Resources
- Insurance Consultant
- and many more
Where will you Work?
When starting a consulting business you will need an office. You can decide to have an office in your home or rent/ buy an office elsewhere. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Though a home office can save you much money some clients may feel that a home office looks unprofessional. However there are plenty of successful consultants who work out of their home. You can decide to start your consulting business in your home and move out to a separate office when your consulting business grows.
When starting a consulting business most of your basic costs will consist of advertising, building your brand and furnishing your office. When starting a consulting business try not to spend too much on office furniture. There are ways of finding great looking furniture such as an office desk without paying top dollar for them. Flea markets and liquidation sales are great ways of finding office furniture and cheap prices. Other basic costs of a consulting business can include a computer, fax and cellphone.
Identify your target market– Conduct market research to determine who will be more likely to need and want your service and if there is a market for your consulting services. Determine what kind of information your target market is usually seeking through your service, for example is there a common problem clients inquire about?
Take note of strengths and weaknesses– What are your strengths in your field? What are you very knowledgeable about? You can decide to concentrate on this strength. You can also decide to attend workshops or classes to strengthen your weaknesses.
Keep up with Trends– The world is always changing and evolving therefore you should always be two steps ahead by keeping up with the latest trends in your field. For example as a beauty consultant you should be aware of popular modern make up techniques. As a business consultant you should be aware of the latest technologies that help businesses with their daily operation. The Internet and trade magazines are great tools to uncover new trends and technologies.
Make a brochure or presentation folder– have one ready to show interested clients. Your brochure or presentation folder should include past work experiences and testimonials. Include a short biography and list the services you provide. Your brochure or presentation folder should demonstrate why you are an expert in your field and why clients should hire you. If you have a presentation folder make sure there is a slot for your business card.
Be easy to contact– When starting a consulting business it is essential that clients and potential clients are able to contact you. Have a phone with voice-mail so clients are able to leave you a message when you are away. Don’t take long to respond to clients; within 24 hours is ideal. It is also a good idea to have an email account which can be set up for free on websites such as yahoo.com or aol.com.
Join a trade association– Joining a trade association is a great way to network, get advice from professionals in your field and get access to further resources.
Build your brand– Why should clients seek your consulting service? What makes you special? Establish yourself as a professional in your field. Demonstrate to potential clients that you know your stuff. You can do this by speaking at events, publishing a book and/ or creating a web presence.
There are many ways to show off your expertise:
- Probono work– if you don’t want to be viewed as a desperate consultant it is a good idea not to provide this service to profit making organizations. Just stick with non profits.
- Yahoo answers– In Yahoo Answers people ask questions on every topic imaginable. Search for questions that match your expertise and answer them. You can even provide a link to your website if you have one.
- About.com– You can become a writer in About.com and write articles in your area of expertise. Their pages usually rank very well in search engines so it can be a great way to grow your brand.
- Write books and articles– publishing articles and books creates credibility and strengthens your brand as an expert in your field.
- Actively pursue interviews– Try to get interviews on tv, local news stations, radio and niche magazines.
- Create a website– Create a website where you can show off your expertise by providing quality information.
- Teach– Teach in local colleges.
- Network– It will be important for you to network especially in the early stages of starting your consulting business.
- Public Speaking– Find gigs where you can speak in local events.