What makes consulting businesses this century’s go-to for entrepreneurs? Quite simply, it’s a service that every business needs, but that not enough high-level professionals provide. A high-quality consultant who provides expert services in your industry is an invaluable tool. So how can you become this highly in-demand commodity in the business world? Here are for tips for getting started.
Pick a Niche
One of the first steps you need to take is selecting a profitable niche. Choose an area that you can specialize in based on either your education or your experience, then become an expert in it. Know everything that potential clients in that niche might want you to know. Learn how to provide the best possible services to that type of client, and focus on targeting your marketing to businesses in that industry.
What makes this the best route? You might think that targeting many industries would allow you to catch a wider net, and therefore reel in more clients, but that’s not true for consulting. As Entrepreneur magazine stated on their website, “a good consultant should be knowledgeable about the subject he or she is consulting in.” It’s hard to be knowledgeable about everything, so you need to focus your attention on a single area, at least in the beginning.
Businesses don’t want a consultant that’s a “Jack of all trades, but master of none.” By becoming an expert in one industry, you significantly increase your appeal to those clients, and tap into a network of connected businessmen who can refer you to their peers in the industry.
Become a Different Person
This might sound like an odd one, but the fact of the matter is, the person you are now is not a successful consultant. (If you were, you probably wouldn’t be reading this.) Many people restrict themselves based on their current definition of themselves. They allow their current situation or past experiences to put them into a box, making it difficult to try something bold and new—like starting a consulting firm.
So put your perceptions of yourself aside. Become a new person—a professional, successful consultant. If you can change your perception of yourself, you can create the exact image you wish others to see. And, as any businessman will tell you, image matters.
Write Everything Down
When you’re first starting out in the industry, you may be tempted to let things like detailed contracts and written schedules for deliverables slide. You think that your spoken agreement is enough, and that the understanding you reached in those emails was clear enough. But miscommunications will cost you time and money.
So do yourself (and your clients) a favor and get your schedule and deliverables clearly defined, in writing, and signed before you begin the work. This will help to alleviate any confusion on what is expected of you, and getting on the same page early on will save everyone some headaches.
Make Sure You’re Online
In today’s business world, if your business is not online, it might as well not exist. So one of the first things you need to do when you start a consulting firm is to get your name online in every feasible place. The best place to start is with building your own website, and then creating business profiles are the three major social media platforms for businesses: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Social media is the most effective way to connect with people and promote your business, but you must use each platform appropriately. For example, while you can share more lighthearted messages and personal videos on Twitter and Facebook, you’ll want to keep your messaging on LinkedIn much more professional.
Multi-millionaire consulting expert Sam Ovens once stated that you need to be able to “to sell yourself before you can sell anybody else.” Your website and social media profiles are the billboards for you and your business. Give them the time and attention they deserve, and use them to sell yourself as best you can. Once you master how to sell yourself on social media platforms, you’ll be ready to start consulting.
As long as there are businesses, there will be a demand for consulting firms, and many people entering this industry find exceptional success. These 4 tips will help you in building your new consulting firm and turning it into a profitable business.