Until just a few years ago, becoming an independent consultant was a big leap and very hard to achieve. You would need to have an address book of contacts as thick as a brick and enough start-up cash to get going through the first difficult years. You also needed a lot of industry experience to get to that stage.
But, things have changed.
Nowadays, ever more skilled professionals are setting themselves up as independent consultants and freelancers. The World Wide Web has played a big part in this, letting people to market themselves and get leads much easier. And, there’s been a change in culture, where big businesses are increasingly open to the idea of bringing experts in for advice and guidance, without wanting to hire someone long term.
5 Simple Steps for Starting Your Consultancy
1. Define your niche
First off, you need clearly define the benefit you bring your customers. Is your background in HR? Focus on how you can help companies without an HR process get set up. Been working in higher education for many years? Provide services that educate lecturers on expert techniques. Once you’ve defined your niche, you can work out your USP and build a business plan around it.
2. Set up a smart website
A smart website shows customers that you’re serious. You don’t need anything especially flashy, but you need a website that tells potential clients who you are, what you do, and how to get in touch.
3. Tell the authorities what you’re doing
In the US and most other countries, you need to sign up with your state government as a sole-proprietor at a minimum (although there are other business structures which could suit you better). Once you’ve told the authorities what you’re doing, you can begin to trade legally.
4. Use a separate bank account
Many consultants start by working on the side of their old job. All the same, you need to separate money you earn from your business from your personal cash – this makes your income and outgoings from your freelancing or consulting much easier to manage – especially when paying your taxes.
5. Marketing methods
To grow beyond the first couple of clients, you need to carry out marketing which will generate leads. The internet offers a ton of free tools you can use to create a buzz about your business.