Businesses, big or small, always need help in all domains spanning across a wide range of services. A small business may need someone to create and manage a website for them.
If it has a website, it may need someone to maintain its blog and/or take care of its search engine optimization. Some businesses might need a consultant to manage their social media presence while others might need an expert to help them get the maximum value from their advertisement spending. A tax and accountancy expert would be needed to keep their books in order and optimize their taxes. Start-up firms might be looking for someone to help them set up a legal company.
Web designing, social media management, SEO, advertising, accountancy, blogging and writing; the list of areas for consultancy can be huge. As businesses prefer outsourcing their non-core job to specialists, the business of good consultants is growing.
You too can become a consultant if you have expertise in an area that businesses need to improve or outsource.
Here is a quick checklist to see if you should start a consultancy firm.
- What is your area(s) of expertise? What would be your service/product?
- What businesses need that service/product?
- What will be your unique selling point to make you stand above the rest?
- Are businesses looking for service providers in the area of your expertise?
- Do you have local businesses that need your service/product?
- Are there businesses willing to hire you?
- How long would it take you to find your first customer?
- Do you have the money to stay afloat till your business turns profitable?
- Can you make more money as a consultant than what you earn right now?
Analyze your answers to the above questions. Do you think you would be able to establish yourself as a consultant? If you are looking at the online space to find clients, do you really know how to bag new clients through emails, advertising and other mediums?
If you are positive about being able to survive and grow as a consultant, it’s time to tie your shoe laces and get into action.
1. Sell results
Take a notepad and start by writing a sales pitch highlighting your products/services. Create a list of products/services that you would offer and what you would charge your clients. Your product description should not be a mere list of what you will do. You must provide result-oriented services and products.
Why focus on results? Let us say you want to buy a television. What do you look for when choosing the best one for yourself? Don’t you look at the results—picture quality, audio and any other features. The same goes with businesses shopping for products and services. If you promise them results, they will be more interested in hiring you.
2. Be a frugal planner
Plan your investment before hand. Be frugal and spend only on the bare essentials. You will invariably need a website. So find the most affordable solution to get a professional website.
If you can work from home, avoid spending money for a separate office space. Maybe, you would like to have a separate landline/cellphone number for your business. Try to use cheap/free online services for things such as teleconferencing, chat and calls.
Use social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to spread the word about your business and establish yourself as en expert. Be proactive and interact with others in your sphere. Communicate. You should also have a blog on your website as it allows you to improve your presence in search engines such as Google and establishes you as an expert.
3. Master your art
Businesses hire consultants because they need someone with comprehensive understanding of a subject or situation. They are looking for a person who can help them tackle a problem with his/her experience and knowledge. Be ready to provide solutions to the most bizarre questions.
Sometimes businesses seek help for problems for which a Google search will give hundreds of results. Why do they do so? They don’t want to spend the time and energy experimenting. The idea is to rely on an expert who can help them solve the issue without any glitch. So don’t just give them a list of possible solutions. Recommend them a solution backed with solid reasons for the choice.
You must always stay updated with the latest happening and technologies in your area. Be the guy who businesses can trust for providing them the best solution.
4. Build relationships
Successful consultant have a long list of valuable clients who value the services of the consultant and seek his/her services on a regular basis. How do you get such clients?
Smart consultants treat each client as a long-term source of work and income. So they don’t just work on a one-off project. They provide great value to their customers to gain their trust and loyalty.
As a consultant, start by explaining to your customer how they would get the best value from you. Listen to the requirements of your clients. Don’t rush to give an estimate. Communicate and understand their objectives in detail before talking about costs.
Surpass your clients’ expectation. Try to provide more value than what the client is paying for. Not charging for some minor assignments (something that requires just a few minutes or so) also makes your client come back to you. Most of them would like to return the favour of freebies.
Be smart with your consulting business. Never be complacent. You should always be open to accepting new clients and challenges. If you do not have any work (of course, it’s part of the consulting game), use the time to do some creative work in your area or learn new skills. Be a regular at online and offline forums in your niche. All the best for your new venture.