In this day and age, many people are starting their own business , but there are uncertain financial times and more competition than ever. Many entrepreneurs end up looking for consultants they can turn to for help. Consultants can provide information, advice, and support on any number of topics, from startup success, human resources, and finance, through to technology, marketing, sales, communication, and management.
If you have completed an MBA online or on campus to hone your consulting skills, or have been working in an industry for years and feel ready to take the next step in your career, now might be the perfect time to start your own consulting business from home. Read on for some tips you can follow today to help make your dream a reality.
Be Sure There Is a Gap in the Market
For starters, it’s important to ensure there is actually a gap in the market for the service you want to provide. Whether you’re keen to become a consultant on matters such as general business or something more specific like finance, human resources, sales, marketing, public relations, IT, communication, accounting, or insurance, you need to know there will be people who will want to pay for your expertise, and enough of them to make your venture feasible.
With most cities and suburbs having numerous consultants advertising their services, you have to find a way to stand out from the crowd. Having a point of difference, or a “unique selling proposition” (USP), is essential. You can create this through the specific services or expertise you make available to potential clients, or in things such as the particular demographic you target, the hours you’re available, or the way in which you go about providing services.
To ensure you will truly be presenting something new, it helps to research your competition. Find out what other consultants (and even apps and other software nowadays) are doing to cater to demand. Discover what is and isn’t on offer; what price points are charged; what level of service is provided; and who uses your competitors’ services. Once you have determined your point of difference, this will help you effectively market your consulting business to prospective leads.
Understand Your Target Demographic
Of course, you won’t get very far unless you truly understand the people you plan to target, too. Before you launch your venture, take the time to learn everything you can about the people and organizations you hope to serve. This will help you make appropriate decisions about which services you offer, where you advertise your business, the processes you step clients through, and how you deliver customer service.
Getting to know your target demographic covers a wide array of factors, but start by working out if your ideal clients are solopreneurs, small businesses, medium-sized ventures, or large corporations. Alternatively, perhaps your services will be best suited to non-profit organizations. You also need to know if your clients will be running a startup business or more established entrepreneurs.
Other things to think about include how your potential customers will browse for services, and when and where they will do this. For example, are they the types of clients who will go straight to Google to search for a consultant, or will they be more interested in meeting someone personally at a networking event, conference, trade show, or the like? You also need to understand what kind of budget they will have available for consultants, so you can price your services appropriately.
Create a Detailed Business Plan
Lastly, your consulting business will start more smoothly if you take the time to create a detailed business plan. Being clear on what exactly you want to create with your new venture, and how best to go about executing it, will not only reduce your stress levels and keep you on track to achieve your goals but also make it easier to get a loan if you need some capital to get your startup launched.
A good business plan will cover many aspects of a venture. For example, make sure you include information on the competitor research you completed to develop your USP, your target market, and the industry in general. While you might be targeting business owners as a whole, you will more likely want a focus on working with clients in a particular sector, such as finance, manufacturing, hospitality, tourism, or retail.
Take note of any particular areas in the industry which are currently contracting or booming, as well as any particular target markets which aren’t being catered to properly, or served at all. This can give you direction with where to take your business in the first few months and years.
Your plan should also cover details such as your business model; the exact services you will start off providing; pricing structure; any special legal factors you need to consider; a breakdown of starting costs and projected sales and profits; and a SWOT analysis that looks at the likely strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for your business.