How to Start Your Online Consulting Business in 5 Steps
In 5 deceptively simple steps, you can use your unique professional history and start an online consulting business - and get paid with the help of side-hustle tools and social media platforms.
Become a Consultant Online
Consulting – or advising an individual or company based on your own, particular expertise – remains one of the largest and fastest-growing job markets today. Every time a new technology, field of study, social movement, or anything that people have questions about is created, more consultants with new specialties are needed. Fortunately for entrepreneurs and companies alike, technology has also made it easier to launch a consulting career. Likewise, the expansion of the gig economy and side hustles have allowed a wave of new entrepreneurs to become self-employed.
Before picking any domain names, new consultants have a few things to consider. Who is your ideal customer? What problems do they have that you can solve? Where will you do business? Will you need employees? How much will you charge for services? And, how will you bill clients?
Using the 5 steps below as a beginner’s guide, you can kickstart your own consulting business online and start getting paid for your expertise.
Step 1: Define Your Expertise
Consultants are available in just about every industry. Common consulting careers include computer information and technology, project management, accounting, career counseling, business, advertising, and marketing. Starting your consulting business begins with an examination of your unique skills and knowledge.
I help niche to get result by offer. For example, you could say, “I help women who suffer from binge eating to become free of binge eating by the end of my six-week coaching program.” Or you could say,“I help plumbers get hot water cylinder repair clients using Google AdWords.”
– Consulting.com, “How To Start A Consulting Business”
Avoid chasing new trends in volatile industries and stick to topics on which you have a deep understanding or are passionate about. Becoming a Bitcoin consultant, for example, may not be a wise choice for people with no interest in finance or technology.
Spend time investigating the specific marketplace you want to join and decide if you have something unique to offer. Your particular point-of-view will be your meal ticket.
Step 2: Expand Your Knowledge
Depending on your industry of choice, you may need certification or additional education. For instance, a Certified Management Consulting (CMC) certification isn’t required to operate as a project management consultant. However, most consultants will need to stay up-to-date on news and new ideas in their industry to remain competitive and well-qualified. Moreover, the more questions you’re able to answer, and the more problems you’re able to solve, mean more return customers for you.
Step 3: Handle Your Paperwork
Consulting.com reviewed every job with“consultant”in the title on Glassdoor, Indeed, and Payscale. They estimated an average salary of $75,000 for consultants in 2019. Some consultants charge retainer fees, others are paid per hour, and some are paid per project. Depending on the state you live in, there may be multiple steps you need to take to register your consulting work as a business (unless you’re adding consulting to an existing business you own). In some states, you’ll need to register your consulting business – some restrictions exist in some areas for people operating their business out of their house or apartment.
Also, make sure you keep track of your expenses and earnings for tax time. Because tax law
can be confusing or, at the very least complex, it is – somewhat ironically – recommended that you enlist the help of tax or small business consultant or a lawyer. Paying for these types of services can be expensive but the penalties for failing to adhere to your state’s regulations can be severe. Always make sure to check your state’s .biz site for the latest small business requirements.
Step 4: Build Your Profile
We mean this literally and metaphorically. In today’s Age of Information, your online footprint is often your customer’s first interaction with you. Essentially, your footprint is comprised of
what search results are returned for your consulting businesses’s name. Most often this includes your profiles on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. It can also include any articles, blogs, business reviews, and interviews that include your name.
It’s important to not only look professional, but all of your accounts must echo your company’s brand message. If you’re not familiar with how to set up or run a business social media page, there are countless resources online available to help. With a strong online footprint, you are more likely to attract potential clients and convince them to reach out to you. This means maintaining high levels of interaction on your online profiles and delivering high-quality work that inspires clients to talk about you.
Step 5: Focus on Relationships
Once you’ve pinpointed the unique and specific questions that only you can answer, you’ve set up your business online and in the real world, it’s time to find potential sources of revenue. In the consulting field, these will come from the relationships you have already built (or will build as you continue your business). Creating lasting relationships keeps your business around for longer and gives your company greater stability.
Yet, business relationships can be tricky. Each year, thousands of bridges are burned in the consulting industry due to poor communication, unmet goals, and unhappy clients. Often, they can be fickle, confused, and impossible to please. And, through it all, your goal needs to be solving their problems. Staying focused on their goals and not your own profits will can turn a one-time contract into repeat business. On the other hand, avoid putting your business and reputation at risk for nightmare clients. There are times when it won’t be worth it. It’s your job to recognize those moments and handle them with tact.
Sources / See also
“Consultant Salaries In 2019” via Consulting.com. Retrieved on April 9, 2019 from https://www.consulting.com/consultant-salaries
“How to Start a Consulting Business” via Entrepreneur Press. Retrieved on April 6, 2019 from https://www.entrepreneur.com/amphtml/41384
“How to Start a Consulting Business in 9 Steps” by Eric Goldschein via Fundera. Retrieved on April 5, 2019 from https://www.fundera.com/blog/how-to-start-a-consulting-business