Are you a future consultant? This blog is for you if: you’re definitely interested in consulting, you know you want to launch, and you’re not sure how to go about it. We’re going to take you step by step and help you plan your transition into full time consulting.
Here are five start smart strategies to help you launch your consulting business:
- Start Planning Your Business Now
- Diversify Your Work and Income
- Learn Business Skills
- Upgrade Your Professional Skills
- Build a Financial Safety Net
Strategy 1: Start Planning Your Business Now
How do you start your business and plan your launch? There are three important steps in the planning process:
The first is to do market research. Understand your specific market. Think about your skills and who needs them. Find out what other people are doing and how much they’re charging. Think about what’s happening in the specific client sector you’d like to enter. A business only works if you have people to buy in!
Build Your Network
After you do your research, you should continue to build your network. How can you intentionally connect and nurture relationships with others in your specific industry? We want you to build your network now, so that by the time you launch, you will have the best potential for network referrals.
Plan Your Business
The last thing we’d recommend is getting a plan together. We want you to start to define your business model. It doesn’t have to be a 10-page document, but you should consider your skills, your target market, and your marketing tools. Can you describe on one page how your business is going to function and make money? If so, we think you’ve laid a solid foundation to build upon.
And if you need help getting your plan together, we can help.
Strategy 2: Diversify Your Work And Income
Many people want to take time to figure out whether consulting is for them before taking the leap. By diversifying your skills and income streams, you’ll be able to figure that out. Having diverse income streams reduces your reliance on one big paycheck, and is a great way to dip your toes into the consulting world. So how can you do this?
Start a Side Hustle
Our definition of a side hustle is any entrepreneurial venture you do outside of your primary source of income. What we’ve seen is that people start these side hustles to supplement their income, test business ideas, and lay a foundation for their business.
Subcontract With A Consultant Or Firm
The value of subcontracting is that someone else finds the work and manages the engagement. You show up to do the work. You’ll start to see how consulting works and learn the business of it by working for the consultant or firm. It’s a great way to learn, get experience, and get your toes wet without having to market or sell yourself.
Strategy 3: Learn Business Skills
We’re not talking about your expertise that you’ll bring into your consulting business. We’re talking about the skills you need to start, run, and grow a consulting business.
If you’ve worked in a larger organization, someone else probably took care of marketing, sales, IT, etc. As a small business owner, you’ll be the one running your business using those skills. You don’t have to be an expert in all of these areas, but you’ll want to be versed enough to get your business up and running. So where can you learn these basic business skills?
Strategy 4: Upgrade Your Professional Skills
What do we mean by professional skills and why might someone want to upgrade them before they start their consulting business? When we talk about your professional skills, we’re talking about your personal expertise and skills — the skills you’re offering that clients will pay for.
Ultimately, clients may be paying you a certain rate based on a particular certification, degree, or some type of verifiable credential that you have. Many times, when you’re upgrading your skills or learning new skills, it either increases your earning potential or diversifies your income streams.
For Kris, that meant investing in public speaking skills. For Katie, it meant investing in a course to learn about influencer marketing. In both of these situations, it helped Kris and Katie increase their client engagements and increase their income.
Upgrading your skills before you start consulting is a great way to make more money from the beginning, but we also recommend upgrading your skills periodically as your consulting business grows and evolves.
Strategy 5: Build A Financial Safety Net
Every consultant needs a financial safety net not only when getting started, but throughout the duration of your consulting career. Having a financial safety net means having enough living expenses in savings that you don’t touch, in the event that you need.
You’ll use this safety net to bridge income between leaving your full time employer and your launch, and sometimes you may use this safety net to bridge between client engagements.
Consulting is different from a job where you receive a consistent, regular paycheck. Some months you may have a lot of money hit your bank account, and other months you may not. So preparing for these gaps beforehand is extremely important.
How do you know how much money should be in your safety net?
This will depend on you and your lifestyle. If you’re used to a certain lifestyle, you’ll need to figure out how much it’s costing you and plan accordingly. Some people may decide to downsize houses, or cut things from their monthly budget so that they don’t have to build quite as big of a financial safety net.
Another factor to consider is how close you are to your first client. If you’re very close to that first client engagement, you may not need as much of a financial safety net. This is a great reason why some choose to start consulting as a side hustle. If you’re already making money as a consultant through a side hustle, you can feel more secure in your transition to a full-time consultant.
Looking for great consultants that commit to your success? Apeiron provides a one-stop shop to access some of the best consultants in the central Indiana area. Want to learn more? Simply submit the contact form below and we’ll find a time to learn more about your situation and how we might work together.
Author: Katie McNamee
Living at the intersection of strategy and creativity, I make standout digital marketing results happen for my clients.
As the founder and owner of Elevate Online, I use branding, content marketing, and web design to generate big ROI and create real, meaningful relationships between brands and their customers.
While my experience spans industries – from transportation to family law to publishing and more – my passion lies in helping consultants, service-based businesses, entrepreneurs, and creatives.