A first step in understanding the above question would be to define who a consultant is. He/she is a resource person whose skills, experience, and information are made available to a client in an advisory role.
That’s right, information. Almost sounds nonsensical, doesn’t it? Why would anyone pay to receive information when the internet is flooding with it? It’s quite simple. Efficient as technology may be, no machine/entity can ever measure up to human value. Such qualities as mentorship, problem-solving skills, and advising you can never find on the internet, only within a real live consultant.
Perhaps that explains the $12 billion that was spent by U.S businesses on consulting alone in the year 1997. Indeed, the market for consulting businesses continues to open up thanks to advances in technology that have created a platform for consultants to display their services.
Being experts in their respective fields, consultants can choose to function separately or in a consulting firm. The fact that their job rests on their capacity to hold knowledge of a specific discipline gives them the flexibility to practice in a range of careers including social media, IT, human resource, business strategy, and more.
Now, despite there being a significant amount of businesses for which consultants can provide solutions, there’s more to consulting business than meets the eye. This is one vocation that you should approach with full thought and a well-thought strategy especially when it comes to selecting the subject you wish to be consulting in.
The fact of the matter is, anyone knowledgeable enough about a particular niche can consult but not everyone’s passion and drive for excellence is the same, and that is what sets a good consultant apart from a lousy one.
In the end, a consultancy venture is still a business, one that you have to put in lots of hard work to partake of its fruits.
If you want to start a consulting business, a great place to begin would be to start planning a year or two before launching. Build relationships with your current competitors, colleagues, and suppliers.
Next to noting down your business plan, here are 5 common questions to ask yourself before starting your consulting venture:
1) Why do I start consulting business?
When it comes to making life-defining decisions, the “how” is not so much important as the “why.” You need every compelling reason you can get to justify your need to start a consulting business. Most importantly, you need to be 100% confident in your abilities to sustain your preferred niche.
As compared to other businesses like production-based or service-based enterprises, consulting has very low hurdles and doesn’t require many employees.
Even so, you need to figure yourself out and discover your particular gift. See if you can transform that knowledge into a service that somebody would be willing to pay for.
2) Do I have enough skills to start a Consulting Business?
Becoming a business owner means being open to all possibilities. While staying optimistic is the right mindset for success, you have to think of all the downsides you might encounter in your journey and all the opportunities you might miss.
The most important qualification, though, is your ability to get the job done. If you wish to be an auto consultant, for example, ensure you’re up to date with all the changes and trends in the auto industry.
To sustain in this competition era, you have to come up with unique qualities which others don’t have. Who knows how many auto consultants there are out there. Your ability to stand out from the crowd is what will gain an audience for your consulting business.
If you understand your clients and their requirements, then you will most likely consult them on their issues in a professional manner that leaves them happy and wanting to return.
3) Who are my competitors?
Competitors directly affect your business. Knowing and understanding other players in your niche helps you devise a winning strategy for your consulting business. Once you learn their ways, it’s easy to know how best to beat them. You can also pick up some beneficial tactics from your opponents, ultimately leading to an increase in sales.
Knowing your competition helps you form a roadmap for your business, that way you know which pitfalls await you in your path and how to counter them. You’d be amazed at the amount of time that top companies often invest in monitoring their competitors’ business operations – all in a bid to stay ahead.
4) Do I have enough funds?
After coming up with a business idea, capital is the single next most important thing that you should address. In the same way that a car without gas isn’t of help to you, there’s little that you can make of your consulting business without capital to initiate startup. While it may be cheaper to start an online business, you’d still have to deal with many online payments including domain, hosting, development, advertisement, and more.
Evaluate your business budget first. Now that you have an idea of how much you need, there are many ways that you can acquire funding for your venture- savings, loans, grants, investments, you name it. If you already have the money, allocate a specific amount to various departments in your establishment and watch your business grow.
5) How to grow my business network?
The internet has revolutionized the way businesses operate. These days, it is almost impossible to find a venture that makes it without an online footing. Your consulting business shouldn’t be any different. Professional networking websites such as LinkedIn and social media are an excellent place to start in enlarging your business network.
Use these online tools to connect with as many people as you can and establish yourself as a key player in your particular niche.
Take enough time to plan before starting your consulting business. Set your goals, take actionable steps and frequently review your plan to ensure that you are on the right track.