If you’ve worked as a consultant before or you have a strong business acumen, then you may be considering launching a consulting business of your own. With the right clients, consulting can be a rewarding and profitable endeavor, but one of the first challenges you face is getting your business off the ground. Follow these tips on how to start a consulting business to get your business going.
Find Your Niche
The more you can narrow down your consulting specialty, the better, as finding a smaller niche means less competition and the opportunity to charge more as an expert in a specialized field. For example, if you decide to be a marketing consultant, you’re going to have plenty of competition for clients. Or you could be a millennial marketing consultant who helps businesses target that specific demographic. Because you’re a specialist, you have far less competition, and companies looking to target millennials will consider hiring you for your expertise. Figuring out your niche takes time, but you can come up with ideas by looking at your education and work experience. It’s best to choose a niche where you have some experience or training, so you can use that to market yourself.
Network, Network, Network
When you have a consulting business, getting it off the ground is all about landing that first gig, and then the second, and so on, which means that you need to constantly network. Finding your first client can seem like a daunting task. Remember that even huge consulting organizations, such as McKinsey & Company, started with nobody on their client list. But each time you land a client, it makes it easier to land another one. There are three great ways to land that first client when you’re starting out:
- Contact everyone in your current network, including friends, family, and business associates, for referrals.
- Use social networks, such as LinkedIn, to connect with potential clients and message them.
- Look up potential clients online, and send a well-written cold email.
These methods take time and consistent effort. There is no magic method to reel in clients. It just takes consistency and hard work.
Make an Impression
As exciting as it is to have a meeting or phone call scheduled with a potential client, that’s only half the battle. You still need to show him how you can help his business succeed. When you talk with a potential client, listen carefully, and provide suggestions on how you can help his business reach its goals. The key to securing clients is showing what you can do for them. There’s one big mistake that many people make when they’re just starting out with a consulting business, and that’s undercharging. Don’t be afraid to put a high price tag on your services. It ensures that you make a solid profit, and a higher price tag makes you look better to potential clients. You can still be flexible, just make sure that you’re receiving a fair amount for what you offer. The early stages of a consulting business aren’t easy, as it takes time to secure clients, and until you do you aren’t making any money. Stick with it, and if you’ve chosen a good niche and network well, you should start getting clients and building a good reputation.