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Hottest Scoop

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Small Business Idea: Business Consulting

Business Consultant

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.

Good luck!

Developing Your Marketing Plan

Marketing Strategy

Last time, we mentioned the Marketing Plan as part of our 9 Easy Steps in Creating Your Business Plan.  Below is a brief overview of what a Marketing Plan is, why it is a quintessential part of a Business Plan, and the four most important points to keep in mind as you develop your own Marketing Plan.

 

What is A Marketing Plan?

A Marketing Plan is merely a part of an overall business plan and usually takes up six pages for a small business.  It describes the current market position of a business and the marketing strategy for the period covered, which is usually one year.  A good Marketing Plan should clearly show the steps that will be undertaken to achieve the marketing objective.

A typical Marketing Plan might include a description of the service/product being offered, any special features, the marketing budget, the business location, pricing strategy, the demand for the service/product, the advantages and disadvantages for marketing, the description of the competing businesses, and the strengths and weaknesses from a market standpoint of both the business itself and its competitors.

 

Steps to Follow in Creating Your Marketing Plan

1.  Prepare your Marketing Plan within at least two months.
2.  Put your Marketing Plan in a three-ring binder and refer to it once every month.  Put in your monthly sales reports to allow you to track your company’s performance as you follow the (one year) plan.
3.  Let all the key players in your company thoroughly read it, and get a feedback from each one of them.  They can provide realistic input on which goals are achievable and how they can be achieved, as well as potentials and opportunities for the business.
4.  If you’re a one-person management operation, then it won’t hurt to consult with other marketing experts to review your Marketing Plan.

*Remember, a Marketing Plan must be updated every year to address changes in costs, market conditions and demand, etc.

A Guide To Creating Your Business Plan

Business Plan

No business will and can ever survive without a Business Plan.  Be it a good one or a somewhat poor one, at least there IS a plan.  Writing down all your ideas and plans (for a potential business) gives you a chance for review and introspection, as well as for communicating your visions and goals to other people in order to get them to visualize and believe in what you are presenting so that they may either join your team or invest in your business.

You don’t have to be an expert in business writing to create a good Business Plan.  In fact, regardless of how simple or otherwise extravagant the presentation is, what will matter most is the accuracy of the data and information being presented and the clarity of the point you wish to convey.

What is a Business Plan?

A Business Plan is probably the most important business document you will need to prepare before you start your business.  It should give a clear overview of what your business is all about, what specific services you are offering.  It outlines your goals, expected costs, marketing strategy and exit strategy.  It is the main company document by which employees and business owners gauge the company’s success and use to review and rearrange priorities if necessary.  It is what lenders and investors (banks, lending firms, etc.) use in deciding to lend you money.

Creating Your Business Plan in 9 Easy Steps

1.  Write an executive summary outlining your goals and objectives.
2.  Write a brief account of how your company began.  Clearly explain the origins behind your company’s creation and how you came up with the idea to start your business.
3.  Write your goals, short- term and long-term.  How fast do you think your business will grow?  Who will be your primary clients?
4.  Include biographies of the Management Team.  Names and backgrounds of key members and their respective responsibilities.
5.  Clearly state the service/product you plan to offer and how your service/product differs from what’s being offered by your competitors.
6.  Explain the market potential of your service/product.  You have to convince people that the market you’re after is large and growing, and the market potential, lucrative.  You’ll need to do a lot of reserach in order to accurately assess the demand.
7.  Write your Marketing Plan.  How do you plan to tell the world about your business?  Are you going to advertise in print, television, web, search engine listing?  How much money do you intend to spend on all your marketing efforts?
8.  Give a 3 to 5 year financial projection – a summary of your financial forecasts.  This will mostly consist of balance sheets, income statements, cashflow projections.  The assumptions that you’ll make in this section will make or break your company’s success, so again, do your homework really well and research, reserach, research.
9.  Write an exit strategy.  All good business plans include a section that lays out the benchmarks you’ll use in deciding to call it quits.  As the saying goes, “Expect the best, but prepare for the worst”.

*If you intend to present your Business Plan to potential lenders and investors, it would be a wise investment to hire a professional or ask a friend who is good at business writing to help you create your Business Plan.

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Get Featured on Womentrepreneur

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Welcome To Womentrepreneur Blog!

Welcome to Womentrepreneur Blog

Welcome to our blog!  We are indeed very excited to finally have our very own blog site – Woohoo!  We are currently in the process of building this site, and as we do so, we intend to ensure that only quality posts get published here.   We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your continued support and patience.   Please continue to connect with us through our Facebook page and our Twitter account, while staying tuned for future posts from us and other womentrepreneur contributors.  Again, thank you and more power!

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