How to Start Your Own Consulting Business

In these recessionary times consultancy can be an ideal way forward for the newly unemployed professional. Like everything else at the moment, it can be challenging to make a success of a consulting business, so you need to set your consultancy up properly. Here are some suggested steps.

Research: First of all you need to decide what kind of consulting you want to offer and to whom. Try and find a niche that people will really need. Mine is international bid management and you will find my name all over the internet with respect to this niche. Once you have decided what you want to offer, you need to make sure that you know everything there is about the subject, even if that means buying books and getting more training. Just remember not to pass other people’s work off as your own. You should also brush up on your word processing and PowerPoint skills – these are key skills for a busy consultant.

Preparation: Start writing articles on the subject to get your name out. Prepare a press release announcing this great service you are now offering – remember it needs to have a story attached. Prepare all your business templates – for example if you are providing business consulting you will need a Cost Benefit Analysis, Feasibility Study and SWOT analysis at least. You should prepare one or two presentations to introduce your company and some training materials to offer your clients. Lastly you should prepare yourself, get at least two good business suits, a good business bag and lap top as well as quality stationary. You need to look expensive and successful if you wish to charge for your services. You might also consider packaging your services to make them less formidable to potential customers as some companies are scared of employing consultants on an open ended basis.

Launch: You now need to launch your consultancy. You can do this with one of more of the following:

o Answer ITT’s (Invitation to Tender) in your chosen areas.
o Network like crazy.
o Advertise and market like crazy.
o Contact past and potential clients and ask for the opportunity to make a presentation.
o Contact companies that may need your particular skills and offer them an introductory service.
o Provide free seminars on a subject with the object of signing on customers for paid consultancy.

Proposal: Once you have a potential customer prepare a consultancy proposal that will outline:

o What you consider their business problem is.
o What your company can do to solve the problem.
o The amount of work this will involve.
o The cost of this work.
o What advantages there are working with your company.
o Your terms and references.

Ensure that you do not make your proposal so detailed that your customer will not need your services!

If if is possible give your presentation by using PowerPoint, in front of your clients – this builds client interaction and allows you to demonstrate your consultancy skill.

Consultancy: Once interest has been shown in hiring your consultancy, make your replies prompt, informative and polite. Remember you will need to fall in with your client’s time scales. Never make promises you can’t keep and always be professional and unflappable. Remember that consultants are measured and paid on deliverables so try and give your client something tangible early on with something substantial at the end of the consultancy. Obviously you also need to solve the business problem you were hired to solve!