These days, many people would rather work for themselves than for a faceless corporation that could downsize them at any time. After all, times are booming, and you can probably make more working for yourself than someone else. That’s why so many people are asking about how to start a consulting business.
When learning how to start a consulting business, you’ll quickly find out that it’s one of the easiest businesses to start. But that doesn’t mean you won’t have to work at it to become a success. Here’s what you need to know:
What Do Consultants Do?
Some people call consultants problem solvers. That’s because they specialize in solving specific problems for people or businesses that can’t do it themselves. For instance, a company may call in a human resources consultant to help it hire a complete staff for their new location. Or a startup may hire a marketing consultant to help get the word out about their new business.
And individuals use consultants, too. People hire consultants to help them lose weight, train their dog, or develop a personal style.
What is your role?
You already know that you will work as a problem solver. But when you own a consulting business, you will do much more. Here is a list of some of the things you’ll do as the owner of a consultant business:
8 Types Of Consultants
When asking how to start a consulting business, you will likely hear answers that leave you confused. That’s because there isn’t only one type of consultant. There are dozens of consultant areas, and each solves a different type of problem. Let’s take a look at eight of the most common types of consultants.
1. Keep the team together and happy
If you have HR skills and want to learn how to start a consulting business, you’re in luck. Large corporations often hire HR consultants to help them with employee issues. These consultants help hire and terminate employees. They also help the corporation stay in compliance with state and federal labor laws and regulations.
2. Plan, plan, and plan some more
Do you have a strategic mind that loves solving complex problems? If so, becoming a strategic consultant may be the right career move for you. These types of consultants solve complicated problems for corporations. For example, a corporation may want to expand to another country, but not have the know-how to do it. They may hire a strategic consultant to help them with the move.
To learn how to start a consulting business in this field, you should have some prior experience to prove to corporations that you’re the best person for the job.
3. That tech person
You know that person who knows everything about technology and how to use it to scale or improve a business? That’s the type of person who ought to ask how to start a consulting business and then work as a tech consultant. These specialized consultants work with corporations and other businesses to help implement new software and systems or to reconfigure or replace existing ones. They are the go-to people for any business that needs to update their tech environment.
4. Under the spotlight
Successful businesses rely on good Public Relations (PR) consultants to help them portray the right image. For instance, a local business may desire for consumers to see them as active in the community, and a PR consultant will help them achieve that goal.
Corporations use PR consultants, too. They hire them to help with their image for stakeholders, consumers, and even government entities. If you like the idea of image-making, asking how to start a consultant business in the field of PR, is an excellent place to start.
5. Legal eagle
If you have a law degree — or plan to get one — you should know how to start a consulting business in the legal field. Corporations, smaller businesses, and even individuals often hire legal consultants. For example, a corporation might hire one to help consolidate branches, while a smaller business may need a legal consultant to decide whether or not to fight a lawsuit.
And individuals hire legal consultants, too. They may hire one to help find a qualified attorney or to do the research about whether or not they have a case against someone.
6. The “IT” guy or gal
While a tech consultant helps maintain and implement existing systems, an IT consultant recommends new systems to businesses. For instance, if a corporation needs to create a new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) across multiple departments, an IT consultant can help them determine which software program to use to populate and test it across those departments.
7. The popular consultant
If social media is your thing, you ought to ask how to start a consultant business in that arena. Corporations know that they have to keep up with social media to stay relevant in today’s culture. But too many have tried to do things their way and ended up making huge gaffes that cost them money.
That’s why so many now use social media consultants. These specialists maintain a business’ social media accounts. They send messages, communicate with others on the platforms, and design and implement social media marketing campaigns.
8. Show me the money
If you have a knack for all things financial, think about learning how to start a consulting business as a financial consultant. You will need a license to operate this type of consulting business. As the owner, you will advise your clients on financial matters such as investments, market trends, and taxes. And if taxes are your thing, you can specialize and become a tax consultant.
Whatever you want
In addition to all of the common types of business consultants, personal consultants have become very popular in the past decade. People hire specialty consultants for all types of things. For instance, people can hire a home décor consultant to decorate their home or a staging consultant to learn how to stage their home before it goes on the market. You can become a garden consultant to help people plan and plant a garden.
You can also become a weight loss or diet consultant to help people get in shape and reach their ideal weight. The possibilities are endless. Think about what you’re good at, and you can probably learn how to start a consulting business with your talent.
The Benefits Of Owning A Consulting Business
You will enjoy so many benefits when learning how to start a consulting business they are hard to count. But remember, while this type of business isn’t as complicated as some others, you will have to market yourself and seek out new customers constantly. Here are some reasons why learning how to start a consulting business makes it one of the best startups around:
Not a lot of hoops
Frequently, when people start new businesses, they have to jump through a lot of hoops just to get off the ground. For instance, they may have to build a new building, look for office space to lease, install complicated phone systems, and a million other things that bog down the process. But when you learn how to start a consulting business, you won’t have to do a lot to get started.
If you plan to start as a legal, tax, or financial consultant, you will need to have a license. And if opening a strategic consultant office is your goal, you should get some experience under your belt. But for most consulting businesses, you can work from your home since you’ll spend most of your time in client offices. And as long as you provide your clients with reliable and actionable advice, you don’t need to do much else to get started.
Keep your cash
You won’t spend a lot of money when first learning how to start a consulting business. You will need some business cards, an internet connection, a phone, and a professional wardrobe, but that’s about it. Oh, and you’ll need a huge list of contacts you can use to find new clients.
Build on who you know
Marketing yourself is a huge factor for success when learning how to start a consulting business. You will need to spread the word about your business quickly. And the best place to start is with the people you already know. Remember that huge list of contacts I said you’d need? You will use them to help you spread the word about your new business — and hopefully, they will help you land your first client.
How To Start A Consulting Business
Now that you understand what consultants do and what you'll need to start let’s take at the steps you’ll take when learning how to start a consultant business. Are you ready? Let’s move on.
Your first step is to take a good, hard look in the mirror and get real about your strengths and talents. You may want to become a financial consultant, but unless you have the license and experience, you can’t do it. Make a list of your talents, credentials, and experience and use it to pinpoint the type of consultant you could become.
Remember, your goal as a consultant is to help people solve problems. If you don’t have the experience and skills to do that, you won’t succeed in this type of business. So, be honest with yourself when thinking about how to start a consulting business.
If you want to become a consultant that requires a license, make sure all of your paperwork and credentials are in order. But go even further than this. Maybe you want to start as a fitness consultant. Even though you are fit and know a lot about exercise and diet, people would be more likely to hire you if you had a related certificate. Remember, the more credentials you can show potential customers, the better your chances of success.
Goals are good
When learning how to start a consulting business, you need goals. You should know — before you start — what types of fees you want to get, whether you want to always stay at home or move into a fancy office one day, and how much you want to work. Setting goals will help you remain clear and show you precisely what you have to do to reach your desired level of business.
Know where you’re going
You wouldn’t drive across the country without a GPS, would you? Or would you try to make a complicated dish without looking at the recipe? If you’re like most people, you need a roadmap to help get you where you want to go. And that’s where a business plan comes in. Even if you do a one-page business plan, you gain the advantage of seeing your consulting business through different eyes. You will create established goals, timelines, and milestones to help you stay on course.
Does anyone want what you’re giving?
Studies show that 42 percent of startups fail because they offer a product that no one wants. Don’t let this happen to you. When learning to start a consulting business, it’s imperative that you test the need for your services before you ever launch. For example, if you want to launch a tech consulting business, first ask around at the local businesses and determine whether or not there’s a need.
You could attend the chamber meetings, business meetups, or call local businesses and ask them if they have a need. And the same is true if you plan to start a specialty consulting business. For instance, if you want to learn how to start a consulting business that teaches people how to take a cruise vacation, speak to travel agents, retirement clubs, and others to determine whether people actually want that service.
Pick a path
Along with determining whether or not there is a need for your services, you need to pinpoint your potential clients. For example, if you plan to start a PR consulting business, will you cater to corporate clients, authors, movie stars, or nonprofit organizations? They could all benefit from PR consulting, but you should choose your ideal type of client, so you know how to market your business.
While it’s possible to learn how to start a consulting business with just one person — you — on staff, it’s not always preferable. For example, you might want to hire staff to answer the phones, deal with clients when you’re in a meeting, or help you seek out new business. It’s up to you whether you hire staff, but take your needs and budget into consideration before making a decision.
Spread the word
Now that you’ve made all of the important decisions, it’s time to let people know about your business. Start with your existing contacts and ask them for referrals. And once you’ve exhausted that avenue, you will need to spread out and talk to others in the same industry.
For example, if you plan to open a garden consulting business, talk to the members of your local gardening club, the garden supply store and even neighborhood community garden centers. The more people you tell about your new consulting business, the more clients you’ll have.
Answered: How To Start A Consulting Business
Learning how to start a consulting business isn’t difficult, but you do need to take some steps to do it the right way. After all, if you plan to start your own business, you want it to succeed. Be sure to read plenty of books and articles from people who have already learned how to start a consulting business and listen to their advice. Have you already learned how to start a consulting business and are in business now? If so, we would love to hear any tips and tricks that you can others who are just beginning this enjoyable and profitable journey.