Here on Womentrepreneur, we don’t only intend to feature already successful women entrepreneurs and try to learn from their own experiences and hopefully duplicate their successes, but we also wish to be able to help other women who are still at the start of their journey towards entrepreneurialism, or are in the process of yet deciding what type of business to venture into.
For this post, we will talk about one type of small business that is relatively easy and inexpensive to start. If you still have no idea what type of business to get into, Business Consulting might not be a bad idea to consider.
What is a Business Consultant?
So let’s define what a business consultant is first. A business consultant is a person whom companies, executives and individuals turn to for direction in running their businesses. There is no magic formula or secret to being a successful business consultant but there is what you would consider a bad consultant and a good consultant. What differentiates one from the other is passion, dedication and drive for excellence.
An experienced business consultant is an expert in all areas of starting and running a profitable business, but even such an experienced consultant herself had to start somewhere before getting to the point where she is able to guide others do the same and to earn the “expert” title. Just because one has gained the expertise in starting and running a business doesn’t automatically mean she would be an effective and efficient consultant to others. So don’t ever think for one minute that you have no business pursuing this career merely because you are just now trying to learn the ins and outs of starting a business yourself. No runner ever gets on the race track (and eventually to the finish line) without first having to take off from the starting line. Keep that in mind.
Who can get into this business?
Thank God indeed for technology! It has now made it easier for pretty much anybody to get into this type of business. However, an extensive knowledge on business plan writing, marketing, organizational communications, legal issues, and small business startup procedures and challenges will certainly be an advantage to anybody hoping to get started on this type of business.
Business Consulting is also perfect for people who have acquired a vast knowledge in building businesses either by having worked with other entrepreneurs, or by having tried running a business of their own in the past but would rather just continue helping others apply the knowledge.
Advantages of Business Consulting
So what are the good points about this type of business? Why would you consider this as opposed to other small business ideas? Below are a few good reasons.
With Business Consulting…
- the startup cost is relatively low
- income potential is high
- the foundation for your business is your business expertise
- you can work from home and your schedule is highly flexible
- you keep learning and growing in the process
- franchise opportunities are also available
Challenges with Business Consulting
Like any other type of business, Business Consulting comes with its own set of challenges. However, you may or may not consider these challenges at all, but opportunities to increase the perceived value of your services.
So to get into Business Consulting…
- you will need to have expert qualifications
- you may need to be licensed or certified
- you may need to have acquired a specific type of education/degree/training
- it will be a bit tougher to sell the value of your services, especially as you’re starting out
- you may also need to become a published author, a recognized speaker, or a social networking butterfly in order to establish yourself as an expert in your chosen field.
Steps to Follow In Setting Up Your Business
1. Give yourself a year or two to plan your business and make all the necessary preparations. Start establishing connections or continue building relationships with your existing contacts (colleagues, suppliers, competitors)
2. Clearly identify your area of expertise. List your strengths and area of specialty. Identify your ideal client, as well as the type of projects you are looking for.
3. Make sure you have your Business Plan and Marketing Plan in place and thoroughly reviewed.
4. Estimate and find your startup money.
5. Choose a name for your business.
6. Get your business license and permits.
7. Set up your accounting system. Accounting and bookkeeping are essential parts of any business and can never be avoided. Unless you are good with numbers or you know enough about accounting yourself, this aspect may be outsourced to a professional.
8. Create your “mini sales pitch” – a short, concise description of what you do and how you intend to do it. This should highlight whatever sets you apart from other consultants.
9. Create templates for proposals. Design your standard forms and fill in the blank templates. This will ensure consistency in the information and presentation of your work, as well as save you precious time and energy.
10. Design your pricing structure and contract. Put everything in writing. Every question that your client could possibly ask should be covered and explained in your contract, particularly with regard to payment terms.
11. Map out the entire process of your service. The worst thing is when someone decides to hire you and you realize you have no idea what to do next after the sales. Be prepared to lay out a time line and expectations for each succeeding step.
12. Get a small business insurance. Protect your business and minimize the potential risks by getting a small business insurance.
Other Important Points To Consider Before Taking The Plunge
Before making that final decision just yet, ask yourself the following questions first:
- Are you generally an organized person?
- Do you like planning your day?
- Is time management one of your strongest points?
- Do you think you can handle networking? (to be in regular contact with a range of potential clients is extremely crucial to the success of any type of consulting business nowadays)
- Have you set long-term and short-term goals? (if your goals do not coincide with the time and energy it takes to open and successfully build a consulting business, then seriously reconsider before proceeding to make another step towards this direction)
*You should be able to answer “yes” to all the questions above. If you were, then you are very much ready and cut out for Business Consulting.