There are many steps to starting any small business. Filing for a business license and registering your business name is just the start—you also need to think about your business goals, finding clients, protecting your business, and many other aspects of running a business.
Consultants face unique challenges as they enter the workforce, but with hard work and strategy you can find great success. Here are six tips to help you start a successful consulting business.
1. Write a clear business plan
A business plan is written proposal that outlines your business goals and how you plan to accomplish them. It is usually an in-depth document that covers all aspects of your business from finance and operations to marketing and competitor research.
As you start your consultancy, your business plan may be rather broad in scope. You should be able to fill in more details as you get closer to launch, but starting with general outline can help you make important decisions about the structure your consultancy will likely take.
Importantly, your business plan should change as your consultancy grows and changes. For example, sections around marketing strategy, your competition, and target clients will likely need updating over time.
2. Carefully choose your niche
Consultants typically work within a specific industry or an area of business. For example, you might provide consulting services to retailers or consult on human resources projects for different types of businesses. However, having a niche specialty could put your services in higher demand depending on what that is.
As you refine your consulting speciality, you will need to consider the market and your competition along with your knowledge and experience. Is your niche in high demand in your local area? Can you relocate, travel for work, or work remotely to maximize potential business? This research and the answers to these questions will make up part of your business plan, as they are closely tied to your overall business strategy.
3. Outsource tasks (if you can)
Small business owners often need to wear many hats as they launch their business. Starting a consulting business is no different. While you may be an expert in your field, you might not be an expert in everything it takes to run a successful consulting business.
It can be tempting to try to everything yourself in order to save money and retain complete control over your consultancy. But, it might not be realistic to do so. Taking on tasks like bookkeeping, marketing, and reviewing legal contracts is not only time consuming, but could lead to expensive mistakes if you don’t know what you’re doing.
If you can, consider outsourcing admin tasks to experts. You might find that it’s less expensive than you think to hire a freelance accountant, marketing expert, or other professionals who can get the job done right. It will also free up your time to focus on your consulting work and finding new clients.
4. Build an online presence
Clients expect the businesses they work with to be online, even consultants. Having an updated website and social media accounts is part of your professional presentation. Clients may be wary to hire a consultant they can’t research online or who has an outdated website and social media they haven’t updated in months.
There are many free tools available that make it easy to create and update a professional website. You can also hire a web designer to do this for you. Creating social media accounts for your self and your consultancy is also easy, but you will need to put some effort into regularly posting relevant content to showcase that you are on top of industry news and trends. A freelance social media assistant can assist with this, freeing up your time for other areas of the business.
5. Reach out to your network
Finding clients as a new consultant can be tough. Asking those in your professional and personal networks may be a good place to start looking. Reach out to people in your industry to see if they know of businesses that might need your services. Even family members and friends could help you find new leads.
Attending industry events is another way to connect with people who might benefit from your consulting services. You can also meet potential clients by joining professional associations, online or in-person industry groups, or local small business clubs.
6. Protect your business
As you build your consulting business, you’ll likely want to protect it. Professional Liability insurance for consultants is one way to create a safety net for your livelihood. Even a small mistake could create a huge headache for a client, and you could be found liable for any financial loss they experience.
Professional Liability, otherwise known as E&O insurance, protects your business against claims of negligence, misrepresentation or mistake, as well as a document or paperwork errors. This form of insurance pays legal expenses, including settlements and judgements, resulting from a related lawsuit.
If you’re ready to buy Professional Liability for consultants, visit the BizInsure website to get started.