In this guide, we’ll show you effective strategies on how to start a consulting business from scratch even if you have no experience and nobody knows who you are.
The Australian job market is transforming and the gig economy is larger than it has ever been. 70% of local businesses expect to be doing more work with freelancers like consultants in the future.
As business owners hire fewer and fewer full-time employees, they are now relying more and more on business consultants and freelancers to fill in the gaps.
Put simply, becoming a full-time employee these days is not such a great idea, and there’s never been a better time to become a consultant. Here are five simple steps on how to start a consulting business.
Step 1 - Pick Your Niche
Are you an expert in your field? Your services might be in demand! Choose a specific niche where you have a lot of experience and knowledge then focus your skills on that particular niche.
For example, if your number one priority this year is to get 50 coaching clients, who would you want to have to help you?
- A marketing consultant that specialises in helping coaches get clients?
- Or a life coach that helps you reach your life goals?
In this case, the consultant would be the smarter choice. That’s because the marketing consultant has devoted their whole career to specialise in that ONE thing that coaches may need help with.
ALL successful consulting businesses focus on a particular niche.
Step 2 - Specialise In Your Niche
The next thing to do when starting a consulting business is doing some market research. Think of how your consulting services will stand out from what’s out there.
For instance, using the marketing consultant example, your marketing research reveals that all the other marketing consultants in your local area are specialising in big businesses.
Knowing this, focus your consulting services on assisting small businesses instead.
All of a sudden, you’re the only expert in your area!
Step 3 - Develop A Business Plan
The third step on how to become a consultant and build a consulting business is you need to have a business plan. A business plan will help you to work out how to turn your expertise and skillsets into profit.
A simple business plan will have the following:
- A vision, mission and values statement – this defines who you are, what your consulting business stands for as well as your goals. Check out our vision, mission and values here for ideas.
- Marketing plan – write an initial marketing plan that includes your avatar or ideal client, who needs your services, marketing methods, an estimate of costs and a way to analyse and measure.
- Financial projections – the amount of money needed to set up your consulting business and how much you’ll need to maintain your business.
Step 4 - Develop Your Brand
When starting a consulting business, you need to develop your brand. Having a clear brand identity will help to get across who you are and what your services can do for your prospects. Here are a few powerful strategies on how to develop your brand.
Grow Your Online Presence
In this day and age, maintaining social media accounts like Facebook and having a website is much more important for a business than purchasing professional business cards. Having at least a Facebook Business Page is a must to attract potential clients online.
Make sure to keep your website and social media accounts up to date by posting regularly about the latest trends and developments in your field, as well as some personal stuff so that your prospects and clients will get to know you better. Doing these will build trust which in turn will lead to more clients.
When posting, remember to educate, entertain, inspire and engage with your audience.
The late and great Steve Jobs knew how important live events were to the success of a business. That’s why every time Apple came out with something new, presenting on stage in front of a live audience was how he would market it to the world.
You need to master the skill of presenting whether it be to a camera on your phone, a board room or on stage because that’s where the money is. As Warren Buffet says, when you become the face of your business, you build an “economic moat around you”.
That’s because no one can copy you – literally no one. You are unique and that is your unique selling point (USP) which differentiates your consulting services from competitors.
Taking part in networking events is a great way to promote your brand. You could sign up for local business meetups to promote your consulting services. You could also join trade and industry shows in your niche.
Networking can really help you to connect with other business owners and specialists in your area who may need your services. They may also have other connections that could help you out.
When developing your brand, always remember that your business should be built on trust. Selling consulting services is selling the “invisible”. So, focus on methods where they get to know you as a person first.
Also, to build trust, you need time. And people will only give you time if you educate them. Nobody wants to give you their time for an "obligation free call" or something.
Always try to secure TIME, so you can build TRUST (through educating/teaching), then ask permission for a TRANSACTION.
Step 5 - Promote
These days, traditional advertising such as print ads in newspapers and TV ads are costly and basically ineffective. You also can’t really analyse and measure what you get from traditional advertising. And what you can’t measure, you can’t improve.
Here are some of the ways that I recommend you promote your consulting business.
Facebook Ads are the cheapest source of paid traffic that you can get and its SUPER targeted. Take advantage of the fact that 16 million-plus Australians are using it every month!
If done right, Facebook ads can be a pure goldmine for your consulting business.
Check out our post, 10 Facebook Advertising Tips For Small Businesses On A Tight Budget here.
Another great way to promote your consulting services is creating weekly or monthly newsletters. Having one will keep your prospects and current clients updated about you and your services. Try to keep it simple by just giving a couple of great content such as blogs and videos every month.
Word of mouth continues to be one of the most effective advertisements for any business, and it’s FREE! So, focus on the quality of your service, handle your clients like people – not sales, do a fantastic job, and watch them refer their friends and loved ones to your business!
Advertising In Publications
It can be a good idea to advertise in publications by your professional association and trade journals. This is because they’re already targeting a particular audience that you may be aiming for as well.
How To Start A Consulting Business – In Conclusion
So, there you have it! These are the five steps on how to start a consulting business and become a successful consultant. We hope that this has given you a clear strategy on how you can build a thriving consulting company. If you would like us to teach you more effective and lucrative strategies on how to start a consulting business from scratch and in person, enquire about our Difference-Maker Accelerator program here.
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