Starting a consulting business is an appealing option to individuals looking to strike out on their own. Consultants can take their knowledge and experience then repackage it to sell those skills back to targeted industries. The resulting freedom and income potential can result in great rewards to the entrepreneurs. But what is it about consulting that makes it such a lucrative business endeavor?
When people think of consultants, they think of experts in a particular field. Consultants generally work as advisors to companies, and sometimes to individuals as well, rather than as employees.
Consultants help businesses operate more efficiently, help managers be more effective at their jobs, and help individuals get businesses of their own up and running.
The job of a consultant sounds simple – at least on paper. Simply put, the job of the consultant is to consult. The truth is that starting your own consulting business is as much an art as it is a science. If there were a magical formula that consultants could use to be successful, everyone on Earth would be a wealthy consultant.
The truth is that there is no magical formula for success when starting a consulting business. There are, however, some basic guidelines and benchmarks you can use to increase your chances of success. Perhaps the most important thing is to be passionate about your work.
If you are thinking about starting a consulting business, chances are you already have the passion and drive to succeed that separates the most successful business owners from the rest of the pack, but it is critical to keep up that passion even as the business grows and expands.
Building a strong team and having the right resources at your disposal are two more critical factors when starting a consulting business. As an independent consultant, you will need to have the latest technology – both hardware and software – at your disposal. Time is money to self-employed individuals like consultants, and having the right technology helps you get more done in the course of a day.
Building a solid team is just as critical to success when starting a consulting business. If you plan to offer consulting services to businesses in a variety of industries, it is very important to have people available who are experts in those fields. This does not necessarily mean hiring an office full of people – you can use the services of these experts on an as needed basis.
In fact the expertise you seek might be as close as your old job. If you are on good terms with your former coworkers, you might be able to convince them to share their expertise as part time consultants. This is a great way to grow your business and expand your knowledge into areas beyond your area of expertise.
Even if you plan to work on a totally independent basis, it is important to build a strong network of people you can rely on for their expertise and guidance. Joining the local Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations is a great way to network, and a great way to find new customers for your consulting business.
You might also be able to find a mentor – an experienced business owner who has been where you are now. A mentor can guide you, and help you avoid some common mistakes entrepreneurs make when starting their own businesses.
In order to run a successful consulting business, you also need strong organizational and time management skills. As an independent business person, you will be doing everything from making the coffee to fixing the copier, so you need to know where to place your priorities.
You also need to be able to handle multiple priorities and deadlines. If you are a successful manager or business person, chances are you already possess some of these skills, but it is always helpful to do a thorough self-assessment before going forward. Learning how to start a consulting business is a process of self discovery.
Consulting offers recently laid off employees a viable option for further income within the same industry. By leveraging existing contacts individuals can strike off as consultants. The same companies that have laid off these individuals can potentially hire them back as consultants, often times for significantly increased pay.
Becoming a Business Consultant
Before starting a consulting business, entrepreneurs need to determine what kind of services they are prepared to offer to future clients. By examining their skills and knowledge then combining this with information gleaned from the corporate world new consultants can start off on the proper foot.
For instance, if you’ve been working as a website developer for some time and wish to earn more than your monthly salary, you can start a web design consulting service and use your skills to help boost other companies’ presence on the Internet.
New consultants can start by working for an established consultancy firm. The firm can match consultants with clients who are looking for an expert in the field and in return provide a fixed salary. This starting point is a good base for younger consultants or individuals attempting to enter another field of practice.