So you have decided to take the plunge and get into starting a business offering consulting services. Great stuff! But where to start?
Venturing out on your own is always risky, but there are steps you can take before you make the move 100%, to make things a little easier.
Establishing Your Reputation
You have probably been active in the field you are targeting for some time, which means you will already have some contacts and a network to get started with.
But, as with any business, and even more so as a consultant, establishing yourself as an expert in your field can be the single most important thing you can do for your future marketing efforts.
Volunteer as a public speaker at industry related events or tradeshows. Begin writing articles for print and online media to start “getting your name out there.”
If you are feeling very ambitious, write a book or e-book on a subject that touches your chosen field. Public relations and building credibility will be critical to the success of your business, so do as much as possible!
Brush up on Business Skills
You may already be the last word in expertise in your chosen field. A guru who is beyond reproach.
However, when starting any business, you are going to be taking on a lot of other tasks that you would ordinarily not be involved in!
Take courses in marketing, business administration or basic bookkeeping before you get going. As a business owner, you should have at least a working knowledge of all aspects of business, from client liaison to billing, since you are going to be handling, or at the very least, overseeing those tasks in your new venture!
Build your Support Structure
Starting a business is a daunting task. In the early days of your consulting business, you will be working long hours, for little reward.
At times, it may feel that you are taking two steps forward, and one step back.
Having friends and family who understand your motivation, can lend a hand, or a shoulder to cry on when things can be tough, can make all the difference!
While you are going into business on your own, you do not have to take it all on alone. Just having a supportive ear to bounce ideas off of can be a great help!
Define Your Motivation
It is very easy to get demoralized when you are starting out in your new consulting business.
By sitting down beforehand, and defining your reasons for wanting to go out on your own, you have something to refer back to when times are tough.
Of course, the current economic situation, globally, means that you may not have had the luxury of choosing to leave full time employment – layoffs happen! But, bear in mind, that those companies laying off staff still need to accomplish their goals, which means more business that is possible for you, the consultant!
Determination is Key
At the end of the day, starting a consulting business, like any other business venture, is about planning ahead; having a nest egg built up if possible helps, as does defining goals and building networks and reputations.
But more than anything else, new consulting businesses are founded on determination and hard work. What you put into your firm will be what you get out.