By Bond Collective Staff
Starting a consulting business may seem like an impossible task. Especially in today’s fast-paced market where high-profile consultants offer advice on supply chain management, information technology (I.T.), human resources (H.R.), and upper-level management.
However, as we’ll discuss in the next section, starting a consulting business is less about the hyper-complex aspects of big business and more about helping people reach their goals.
Those “people” may be in the c-suite of a Fortune 500 company, but they may also be solopreneurs striving to start a small business, or even just your average Joe or Jane Public trying to improve some aspect of their life.
So how do you go about starting a consulting business?
In this article, we’ll discuss the basics of consulting and outline some specific steps you should take to ensure that your fledgling consulting business starts strong and stays that way.
What Is A Consulting Business?
Before you travel any distance down the road toward starting a consulting business, it’s vital to understand what it is you’ll be doing in said business.
The dictionary definition of consulting is:
The business of giving expert advice to other people working in a specific field.
From that definition, then, we can conclude that a consultant is someone with a high level of expertise in a subject that others — typically business professionals — find valuable.
But when we really examine the definition of consulting, we start to see that the true purpose of a consultant is to help their clients solve problems and reach their goals.
So, even if you’re not the preeminent expert in your field — or you’re still learning the ins-and-outs of your niche — if you can help people improve themselves or their businesses with the knowledge you do have, becoming a consultant may be right up your alley.
With that in mind, let’s look at some essential steps for starting a consulting business in the field of your choice.
Steps To Starting A Consulting Business
1) Examine Your Priorities
The first step in starting a consulting business is to examine your priorities and create a strategy for how you want your work life and your personal life to look.
Ask yourself such vital questions as:
How much financial stability do I need?
Can I handle working long and variable hours?
If money were no object, what would I do?
What am I good at?
What am I passionate about?
Asking these types of deep, personal questions will help you decide if you want to become a consultant or if you’re better suited to work in a specialty field within an existing business.
If the former is true for you, these questions will help you identify what type of consultancy to start, what your priorities are, and what type of schedule you want to work.
2) Work In The Field First
If you haven’t — or aren’t currently — working in a field where you can practice your “expert” knowledge, it’s best to do so before starting a consulting business that will rely solely on the application of your skill and proficiency.
In the process of working in a similar niche, you’ll discover if it is, indeed, the right fit for you.
3) Research Laws Before Starting A Consulting Business
It’s imperative to research federal, state, and local laws before starting a consulting business.
When you understand the laws that apply to your consultancy in the early stages of development, you can avoid the difficulties and problems that come from trying to go back and correct things later.
While most laws apply to all businesses — regardless of what they sell — some regulations affect certain industries more acutely.
For example, is your consulting business classified as a product or a service? Do you have to charge and report sales tax? Are there advantages to establishing a C-corp, an S-corp, or a sole-proprietorship?
Many regulations differ from state to state and city to city, so be sure to research based on where your business will be located. If it all seems like too much to handle, you might be better off working for an established small business.
4) Determine If You’ll Need Licensing Or Certification
In the course of researching the laws that apply to your consulting business, you should also determine if you’ll need licensing or certification.
For consultants within certain niches, certification is all but mandatory. For consultants within other niches, certification may be less important than experience and track record.
For example, it’s a good idea for consultants in the I.T. field to maintain some type of certification to prove they have professional training.
On the other hand, fund-raising consultants don’t necessarily need a professional license — although they are available. What’s more important in this instance is showing successful results for past clients.
5) Get To Know Your Customer Base
Getting to know your customer base provides valuable insight into:
Demand for your product or service
Problems inherent in the market
Appropriate price points
How your market will react to what you have to offer
Variables that influence your potential customers’ buying decisions
Armed with this information, you can perfect your product, your message, your image, and every other aspect of your consulting business to appeal to potential customers in your niche as much as possible.
6) Create A Compelling Value Proposition
Creating a compelling value proposition when you’re starting a consulting business helps you identify exactly what it is you have to sell.
Most businesses find themselves stuck at a certain point in their development because they can’t figure out a way to get from where they are currently (point A) to where they want to be (point B).
Within your value proposition, find a way to communicate that you can bridge the gap and show your client the path from A to B. A guided solution to the problems they face is a service that anyone would be willing to pay for.
7) Build A System To Attract Clients
Don’t leave your client acquisition up to chance. Build a system — sometimes called a sales funnel — that converts potential customers into repeat business.
Here’s an example of a simple sales funnel that any consulting business can use to transform casual internet surfers into paying customers.
Website landing page
Availability access (allow potential clients to schedule a consultation)
Direct consultant/client call
Keep in mind, though, that creating a successful sales funnel is not a one-size-fits-all process. What works for one business may not work for another.
Experiment with different components — Twitter ads instead of Facebook, revamped landing page, updated value video — and find the ones that provide the most benefit for your consulting business.
Establish A Professional Image For Your Consultancy
One of the best things you can do in the early days of starting a consulting business is to establish a professional image.
Working from your dining room table or the noisy coffee shop down the street does nothing to convey just how serious or knowledgeable you are about consulting within your chosen niche.
But, when you’re first starting a consulting business, will you be able to afford the type of work environment — and the image it creates — that is crucial for your success?
You will if you partner with Bond Collective.
The luxurious coworking spaces at Bond Collective give you and your team everything you need so you can focus on the work rather than whose turn it is to change the toner in the copy machine.
Whether you’re on your own or part of a team, you’ll enjoy amenities such as:
Conference rooms for 2 or 20+
Private meeting and phone booths
Guest reception and greeting
Unlimited black-and-white printing
Fast, reliable WiFi
Mail and package handling
Nightly office cleaning
Fresh fruit, snacks, and weekly breakfast
Complimentary spa water, craft beer, and coffee
So don’t hold back when starting a consulting business — partner with Bond Collective from day one and let them help you reach your goals.
Visit any one of Bond Collective’s many locations in the United States, including workspaces in New York, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Illinois, Tennessee, and Texas. Or call us today to find out more about everything we have to offer.
And while you’re at it, schedule a tour to experience first-hand how the boutique work environments at Bond Collective can benefit your business.