As in any case, starting a consulting business isn’t easy. It takes a certain character, drive and passion to be able to stick through the roughest of times. Starting a consulting business, however, is very different from simply being a consultant at a firm. At that point, you are no longer an employee – you are a business owner in charge of clients, business operations, finances, and much more. Consider these 3 obstacles before getting started.
“Strong expertise and solid reputation do not guarantee success in the consulting business. Never make the mistake in believing that your reputation can sell itself on auto-pilot mode and that you can simply sit and wait for work. As a consultant, you need to aggressively sell your product – you!” – PowerHomebiz.com
The first hurdle you’re likely to encounter is getting clients. This is a difficult task, as it could take years to build a strong, profitable client base. However, coming into this business, you have likely had experience with clients via your old or current job. This will be a great starting point in tackling this first step of the process.
- Old clients: Clients that are no longer with your current or old firm are your best starting place. Because they no longer have an attachment, it should be a non-issue to contact them in regards to your own business.
- Partnering: You can consider partnering with your current or old company. If you’ve had great recommendations from clients and an excellent track record, you can make a case for why the two companies should come together, in a long distance working relationship. This will help with name recognition, as well as client attraction.
In any business, it’s a struggle to be unique. It seems as though everything has already been done, so it can be hard distinguishing yourself in a sea of other consultants. Regardless, there are a number of ways you can be sure to stand alone that is both effective and beneficial.
- Be diverse: Don’t just do business consulting, change up your range of services so you will appeal to a larger audience. Some companies may need help with more than one issue, and you’ll be the person that can fix that.
- Be open: While you may not advertise certain services, it’s critical that you are open to various needs. If a client is looking for you to aid in something different, consider it before saying no. This makes for a happy client, and great referral.
One of the toughest transitions may be adding marketing to your list of duties. If you’ve worked in a well known firm, they have marketing and years of experience in place to attract new clients. You, on the other hand, have minimal experience as a business owner and perhaps very little experience in the field of marketing. Luckily, the online world makes it a cinch for newbie marketers to get their business out there.
- Social media: You are already on Facebook and Twitter, so just cater them to your business or start new accounts. Be active, engage with potential customers or old clients, and build your reputation.
- Email marketing: If you have been able to compile a list of emails from current or old clients, begin your email marketing campaign. This is a very effective way to reach potential clients and get some word of mouth marketing.
There are many challenges you’ll face when starting your own consulting business. However, there are always techniques and tactics you can use to side step them. Becoming successful as a business owner is all about remembering, “When there’s a will, there’s a way.” So take advantage of networking opportunities and old relationships to start off on the right foot.
About the Author: Sara Fletcher is interested in emotional intelligence in leadership and understanding her DISC assessment. She loves to explore psychology, business, and sports in relation to eq tests.