I always recommend to smart people that if you have knowledge then start a consulting business.
A consulting business can be started with ZERO capital and you don’t have to leave your current job.
But the problem is that sometimes you don’t have enough skills to solve the problems of the client and you start taking projects that you can’t deliver. In a couple of months, your consulting business becomes zero when your client leaves you with bad feedback.
You can become a very good marketing consultant if you are running marketing campaigns in your current job. I mean, why not?
You can help a startup running their marketing in an effective way and handhold their team who may not have a deep experience like you.
You can start a consulting business on the side if you have experience in sales, HR, hiring, process management or even resume writing.
There are some silly mistakes that you should avoid when you start a consulting business, like
- Overcharging your initial clients
- Taking projects from left and right
- Promising things you can’t do and
- Not delivering the project on time
Leave a comment at the end if you could not find the answer to your questions after reading this whole article.
I will add the missing parts however I tried to cover everything.
9 Easy Steps: How to Start a Consulting Business
#1. Find Your Niche
To start a consulting business, you must have some prior knowledge and experience in a particular niche.
Ask yourself these questions
- What topics ignite interest in you (For me, it’s personal finance)
- Areas where you are really good at (Like I am good at saving money)
- The topics which your friends come to you for help (Income Tax saving tips in my case)
- Areas in which you have professional experience
When I started my first startup in 2013, I learned and explored a few things about marketing for the first time.
Then in my second startup, I learned in-depth about content marketing for my startup. Because we were struggling to mobilize funds and couldn’t hire an expert content writer to do the job.
That’s how I learned content marketing.
Despite all efforts, the second startup also couldn’t gain traction on desired lines, but the experience I gained during the process gave me an opportunity to offer consulting services as a content marketer.
But let me tell you, in some fields, you would require a professional qualification or a degree/ certificate to start a consulting business. For example, if you want to be an investment consultant then you must have an Investment Advisor’s certificate from SEBI.
In case you are offering consulting services on tax and accounts then you need to be a CA or a lawyer for legal services consulting.
#2. Different Type of Consulting Businesses
Pick one of the areas from the list. Let me know in the comments if I missed something that you are interested in.
- Strategy Consulting
- Operations Consulting
- Financial Advisory Consulting
- HR Consulting
- IT Consulting
- Environmental Consulting
- Sales & Marketing Consulting
- Digital Marketing Consultants
- Image Consulting
- Social Media Consulting
- Coaching Consulting
- Health and Wellness Consulting
- Stress Management Consulting
If you got the clarity of your niche and area then move to the next step.
#3. Build Expertise in One Segment in Your Niche
In 2013, when I started looking for content marketing experts in education space, to my surprise there weren’t many. Few of those offering consulting services were nowhere near the expectations.
I could visualize the potential and accordingly started building my expertise in content marketing.
Similarly, once you have finalized your niche, the next step should be building the expertise in one segment of your selected niche. You can do that by addressing an individual segment of your niche.
“Frankly speaking, it is almost impossible to be an expert in all possible domains and serve all business requirements.”
In the consulting world, one who claims to be an expert on everything isn’t considered an expert at all. You will never become really good at helping everyone, but you can do wonders if you focus on a particular type of challenge and offer effective solutions.
Building strong expertise in one segment gives you the much-needed credibility, authenticity, and reputation among your audience.
#4. Know the Value of Your Work
It is natural to have some confusion in the early stage of a consulting career. Some very general questions that normally comes to mind –
- Who would ever pay me for my services?
- What is the value of my service?
- What if the client says no?
You must have absolute clarity on the effectiveness of your deliverables. Once you know the value of deliverables, you can set a premium price for your consulting services. I have seen clients willing to pay a premium to get their problems solved.
If somehow you come across clients who say that they can’t afford your services, then you are definitely reaching the wrong audience and it is time you should look for another client.
I can vouch from my own experience that if you can deliver valuable work then the client are happy to pay for it.
I charge a minimum of Rs. 1 Lakh from Indian clients and $3000 from US clients for consulting services in content marketing. The best part is that the clients happily pay the price because they could see the value.
#5. Be Clear on What You Can Deliver
The esteemed first client is like a dream come true, but before you gear up for searching clients you should have clarity on your service deliverables.
The ability to deliver great results is what separates successful consulting companies from those that simply fade away. As a consultant, your job is to deliver results and there is no room for complacency here.
Make sure you deliver whatever you have promised because this will help you earn a reputation and future business.
Delivering results is accomplished by focusing on six key areas;
- Planning and organization,
- Achieving results,
An unfortunate reality of this world is the over-commitment and less delivery. You can make the difference by sticking to delivering what you commit.
#6. Find Your First Client (Even at a Deep Discount Price )
Once you have all the clarity, the next step is to find a beta client to test whether you can deliver high-quality services or not.
For your first beta client, you can offer your consulting service at a deep discount price. But it is important to make sure that your client knows the actual value of the services you are offering.
Make him understand that the discount is just because he preferred to test the services and be your first client.
For example, if you are providing SEO services as a freelancer and you know that the market average price for the SEO freelance work is $60 – $70 per hour.
Then for your first client, you can offer SEO services at a discounted price of $35 to $40 per hour because he agreed to test your services.
#7. Deliver More Than What You Have Promised
Clients are happy when they see more value than what they were promised.
Doing something extra tells how much the thing means, it conveys a message as to how much the client and their work is important to you.
Doing that extra bit tells people of how committed you are at delivering something. Thus, it is always better to promise less and deliver more to get satisfied clients.
#8. Take Testimonial From the First Client
It is all about marketing and positioning, so never miss an opportunity to collect feedback and testimonials from your first happy and satisfied client.
If your first client is not happy with your services, then it is better to take pause and offer services again to get a satisfied client. Your first happy client is the stepping stone for your consulting business.
The testimonials collected acts as proof of your service offerings and a showcase of your business credibility. The testimony is also a reference to get the next lead.
#9. Use the Testimonial to Convert Next Clients
You can include that testimony in your pitch to convert the leads into potential clients. You can also approach the potential client using the reference from the first client.
Testimonials work because they aren’t the strong sales pitches, but because they come across in an unbiased voice and establish trust in the eyes of the clients.
By using testimonials in text, audio, or video formats on your site, you introduce content that will promote your product in a convincing fashion.
Consulting business is an excellent opportunity for experienced people who want to generate extra income and want a flexible time.
Starting a consulting business is profitable as it requires less capital, there is a demand for certified consultants with the right skills. The best part is that you can start the business right from the comfort of your home.