How’s your consulting business going? Are you enjoying the ride or have you lost some motivation?
If you’ve got Ferris Bueller aspirations in a Cameron reality, there’s still hope you can be that righteous dude.
Once you’ve found your niche, you can find out how to use it.
Companies hire consultants for different purposes, but here are some common business consulting roles.
Expert consultants gather the info or data they need from the company. Then, they make their recommendations based on their expertise.
Some consultants also help the company carry out the plan and troubleshoot along the way.
If clients need research but don’t have the resources, they’ll hire it out. Even if they have the time and staffing, they probably don’t know where to look.
Enter the consultant!
A research consultant will research what the company needs. They’ll also interpret the data and make recommendations based on their findings.
The Consultant That Does The Jobs Nobody Wants
Every business has jobs nobody on staff wants to do.
For smaller companies with few employees, this can be a real morale buster.
When an outside consultant is hired, it lifts the load off of company ownership and employees.
This is a great way for companies to remove items they don’t want from their plate. With a consultant handling undesirable jobs.
The Problem Solver
Have you ever tried solving a Rubik’s Cube but keep getting stuck? Then someone else walks up and solves it right away. Sometimes, an outside perspective is all you need.
Other times, the problem solver needs specific knowledge and experience.
This is another reason many businesses hire consultants.
The consultant will spend time gathering info and identify ways to make improvements. The consultant then works with the company to craft a solution.
The US labor shortage seems to be hitting almost every business. Some companies are hiring consultants to lighten their employees’ workload. If their hired consultant is already an expert in the field, they won’t need much training.
Consultants might have a higher hourly rate than company employees. However, they’re less expensive in the long run. Consultants don’t ask for benefits or vacation time.
Since most consultants are contract employees, there’s usually an end to their time with the company.
Keep Overhead Low
One of the great things about going out on your own is you call the shots. One of the downsides can be overhead costs. You are not absorbing the costs of office supplies, internet, utilities, and rent.
Keeping overhead costs low will help you decrease money stresses. If you’re not able to work from home, consider a coworking space. Coworking spaces have increased by over 24% in recent years.
Remote workers can rent out part of a space with other professionals. Coworking can also help new and experienced businesses network with each other. Coworking provides support in a potentially non-competitive environment.
Know When to Hire Help
Most consultants starting their own business don’t need an employee right away.
However, there are things you should make sure you hire out if you’re not an expert.
Legal protection should be at the forefront of your consulting business start-up checklist. Protecting yourself from legal issues will have an up-front cost. The cost of being caught off-guard without legal representation will likely cost a lot more.
It may be a good idea to run contracts you sign through a legal lens. If you’re not a legal expert yourself, you may be missing something with those contracts. If they pass inspection, it’s good peace of mind and confirmation that you’re operating safely within legal parameters.
Having official legal representation may also help relationships with clients.
A company is more likely to hire someone they can trust.
If clients know you have a lawyer or legal team looking through your documents, they can feel confident you’re a trustworthy consultant.
Taxes and Finances
Yet another thing best left to the pros? Finances and taxes.
Everyone knows tax codes can be confusing at best (infuriating at worst). Why risk having the IRS knocking at your door for a mistake you didn’t even know you made?
Consider hiring a CPA or financial firm that also deals with taxes.
This will free you up to focus on your own niche and finding clients. If you’re heading out on your own, you may need advice about how to navigate financial investments, retirement funds, or other complicated financial matters.
While they will come at a cost, paying for professional legal and financial services upfront is well worth the investment.
The national hourly rate for consultants in 2020 averaged $45 to $100 an hour. Most consultants fall within this range. However, there could be some exceptions.
You don’t want to undermine your profession or your value by asking too little. If you’re asking much more than the national average, you’ll have to prove why you’re worth it.
According to consulting.com, your rate is how much others are willing to pay. Before setting your rates, determine how much your time is worth.
You should also keep in mind what the future holds in the next few years.
Will you be able to ask more or as you gain experience or do you plan to keep your rates the same for a while? All these things depend on your situation.
Always have your ducks in a row before meeting with potential clients. Set your rates and explanation of services BEFORE pitching yourself to businesses.
Invest In the Right Tools
What do you need to be successful in small business consulting? You probably need the basics: laptop, internet, and phone. But what about some other important resources?
It’s difficult to get anywhere without a website. You’ll need to pay for the domain name and your web hosting service. What kinds of office supplies will you need?
Will classes help you hone in on your skills? If so, select continuing education within your budget that will yield the best results.
Does your community have a consulting business organization you can join? If so, it may be worth the annual dues. Reevaluate your investments every few months to make sure you’re still getting benefits from them.
Plan for Client Retention
Once you get those clients, how are you going to keep them? If you’re a consulting business working on contracts, they’re going to end. But what happens when the client needs something else down the road?
Do you have a plan to keep in contact with your previous clients? Having a client retention plan will help you stay in business.
Asking satisfied clients for referrals or reviews is a great way to keep building bridges for your future as a consulting business.
If you build it, they will come. But maybe they won’t.
Marketing is key to your client pipeline. Without a smart and intentional marketing plan, you won’t be able to let people know you’re in business.
Can you communicate who you are and what you do in just a few minutes?
If not, you should prepare your elevator pitch now. Your elevator pitch is a neatly wrapped mini-presentation about your business.
You should be able to clearly articulate exactly what you do and who needs your services.
Keep it short…like the length of an elevator ride (Get it? elevator pitch?).
Organic is Best
Word of mouth is always a great way to grow. It’s people to people; friends telling friends who they trust.
You don’t have much control over organic marketing. It’s largely a defensive game.
While it’s very effective, organic growth may take more time than you can afford.
When To Hire
There’s a lot to consider about marketing. In today’s ever-changing climate, digital marketing is key. Traditional avenues like newsletters and brochures are also effective strategies when there’s intention and research behind their use.
Here are some important channels to consider when marketing your business consulting services:
- Newsletters (print and email)
- Social Media
- Start and Manage a Blog
Both traditional and digital marketing should be used together in a multichannel approach. But who has time and resources to handle all of that?
Sometimes, you really need to stand out as the creative one who thinks outside the box.
What can you offer to catch the client’s eye that nobody else has brought to the table yet?
If you’re a business consultant, you probably don’t have time to become a marketing expert as well.
Marketing Pros Can Help Your Consulting Business
Hiring the right company to handle your marketing can pay off big time with extra exposure.
It can bring in business by getting your consulting business the attention it needs. Taking advice from the pros is a great way to start.
Working directly with the pros is even better. BrashBerry consulting can help take your marketing plan to the next level.
Here at BrashBerry, we’ve been making small businesses successful since 2013!
Book a call with us to see how we can make your competitors think, “I’ll have what she’s having.”
And as always, follow BrashBerry on social media to stay up to date and make sure you don’t miss a thing!