Wondering how to start a consulting business — even if you don’t have much experience? Here’s the good news: starting a consulting business with no experience is easy. Today, anybody can start their own consulting business.
If you have a computer, a phone, and a place to do your work, you have everything you need to start a consulting business.
What’s not easy is building and sustaining a profitable consulting business.
If you think you must “feel like a consultant” before you can start your own consulting business, you’re mistaken. Instead, what you need is real expertise and experience in your area of specialization. With that, you have the foundation of what it takes to start a consulting business.
You can develop a “consulting” experience on the business side of things once you’ve started your business. That will come. If you’re interested in starting a consulting business without experience on the business side (but with an area of expertise), this article outlines how you get started.
Learn More- Are your consultancy proposals letting you down?
Part 1 – Is Consulting For You? The Truth About Becoming a Consultant
I could paint you a soft and cuddly picture of how rosy the life of a consultant is. That would be a load of rubbish. Becoming a consultant — and a successful one to boot — isn’t for the faint of heart. Especially when you’re trying to do it with little experience. But you can do it when you adopt the right mindset.
If you’re like most people, you want to start your own consulting business to realize your full potential and become your own boss. Becoming your own boss, realizing your full potential, and having a flexible schedule account for nearly 75% of the reasons why over 33,0000 consultants we polled actually started their own consulting business — many without former consulting experience.
Consultants Are Just Like Business Owners
Very little in life and in business is easy. Consulting is no different. Being a consultant is much the same as being a business owner. That’s what you are. All the headaches, ups and downs associated with owning a business will become part of your everyday life as a consultant. There’s finding new clients, getting agreements signed, invoicing and billing issues, client management issues…the list goes on.
You get the point, right? There are lots of different aspects of the business you’ll need to stay on top of to keep things afloat.
The Advantages of Becoming A Consultant
Don’t let me scare you away from joining the consulting ranks. There are tremendous advantages as well, like…
- the freedom to structure your day and be flexible — and work from wherever you want in the world
- the almost unlimited earning potential
- the ability to work with practically any company in any industry
That said, it does take a lot of work.
For many, getting up and going to work for 9 am and then coming home at 5 pm is a better way to live life. In some ways this is true, you go to work do your job and come home — that’s it. When you become a consultant, I can tell you that you’ll be thinking of your work and clients much more often than that.
Check Yourself — Are You Determined To Succeed?
To start a consulting business with no experience, a pig-headed determination is required. You’ll deal with quite a few blows during the tough times…but if you’re serious about succeeding, you’ll make it out the other side with invaluable experience. More importantly, you’ll need the ability to stay focused and constantly motivate yourself to not give up and keep pushing forward.
These are some of the key areas that will help you to decide if becoming a consultant is right for you. If you’re looking for an easy, comfortable life, starting a consulting business with no experience is not for you. But if you’re willing to accept the challenges that come with the advantages, read on.
Part 2 – How To Become A Consultant: Choosing Your Consulting Category
So you’ve decided to make the leap into becoming a consultant with little to no experience. You’re willing to start your business with no experience and learn along the way. Now, what the heck do you do? The first step is to decide what area of consulting you’re going to get involved in. You probably have a consulting field in mind.
If your background is in finance then financial consulting is probably where you should behead. Think about your past work experience. Even if you don’t have any consulting experience, you do have experience working for others.
Where Do You Have Experience?
If you’ve been a marketer for years, then becoming a marketing consultant makes the most sense. This isn’t to say that you can’t venture into a completely new area.
There are many different consulting paths you can take: But if you’re to look at the entry point of least resistance — and make your life easier — you want to jump into a consulting field where you’ve got skills.
You’ve already built up some credibility and can demonstrate some results. Even if it’s results you’ve gotten for your employer. Remember, a consultant isn’t just a contractor that a company pulls in to get work done. A consultant provides expert advice and recommendations.
And it’s hard to make recommendations if you don’t have any past experience or knowledge to pull on. If you’ve worked at a job in a field, you do have some past experience. Even if it’s just a little bit of experience, you want to leverage that into value for your clients.
Starting A Consulting Business With No Experience — Mission Impossible?
Nothing’s impossible. If you really want to start a consulting business with no experience in a given field, be prepared. You’ll need to devour as much literature and education you can get your hands to learn the ins and outs of the subject.
That said, the biggest mistake most new consultants make is thinking they have experience in an area when all they’ve done is read a bunch of books or blogs. Reading makes you knowledgeable, it doesn’t make you experienced. For that, you need to put skin in the game and get your hands dirty.
Getting Your Hands Dirty & Earning Experience
Practical experience teaches you more than any book ever will. Another consideration for you is to choose an area that you’re passionate about. As I mentioned in Part 1, one of your biggest challenges will be to keep yourself motivated and moving forward. It’s very hard to do that if you don’t enjoy the work you’re doing and if your area of focus doesn’t stimulate or excite you.
I hope this has given you one or two things to think about when choosing what area of consulting to enter as you become a consultant. In Part 3, we’ll look at how to make sure your consulting services stand out and get noticed in the marketplace.
Part 3 – Discovering Your Unfair Advantage
What makes your consulting services unique? You’ve decided you’ve got what it takes to start a consulting business with no experience, and you have the necessary skills to give yourself some credibility to get into the consulting game. Sounds like a good start, right? Well, not exactly. In order to make any money in this business, you must make yourself known and sought for consulting work.
Getting found is actually the easy part. There’s plenty of marketing avenues you can take to get your message in front of thousands — if not millions — of people. Consider how much money consultants spend, on average, marketing their business: Nearly 50% spend less than $1000 on their marketing each year.
I’m not saying that you have to have a five-figure marketing budget to be successful — but you must adopt the mindset that investing in your business will pay off. Getting in front of people takes time, money — or both. Either way, you need to provide something unique that stands out from the crowd if you want anyone to give you the time of day. This all comes down to your positioning and USP (unique selling proposition).
Get Inside The Mind Of Your Clients
The easiest way to think about this is to put yourself in the position of your prospective clients. Think about what they really want. And also look for cracks in the market. Look at all your competitors and find an area where they all are performing poorly in. Or maybe there is something that isn’t being communicated well enough — but is important to your prospective clients.
A classic example is to think of a construction crew. Most are notorious for cost overruns and delays. Not to mention shabby work that needs re-dos and touch-ups for months after the project is supposed to be complete. Customers hate how late and unreliable these workers are. They want someone they can depend on.
Promoting The Right Things
If you’re in this market, you’d be wise to take this opening and promote how your workers are always on time, are reliable and get the job done right. Think this will only work for this market? Well, think again.
Dominos pizza took this exact approach by guaranteeing delivery would be on time, and that the pizzas would arrive steamy hot. It worked.
The goal is to figure out what you bring to the market that is unique.
- How can you set yourself apart?
- Can you focus on an area that others don’t?
- Can you provide a guarantee that your competitors don’t have the stomach for?
While doing this can be scary at first, these are the kinds of things that make you stand out — and that’s what you need to make happen. This is an overview and we’ll get into more specifics in more advanced articles. For now, think about what your advantage is and what you’re ready to offer as you become a consultant.
Part 4: How To Start A Consulting Business: Structuring Your Business For Success
Wondering if you should incorporate your new consulting business? It’s different for every country. Generally, my answer is no.
(Disclaimer: This is not legal or financial advice — just my opinion from personal experience.) The only time you’ll want to incorporate is if:
- You’re already making a substantial income in your business.
- There’s a good chance that your clients might sue you.
In these cases, incorporation is favorable. Incorporating your business is more tax effective, and provides protection against personal liability. That said, incorporation will incur higher accounting costs. How do you choose? It depends on your needs — and the kind of consulting business you want to run.
Should You Hire An Accountant?
Hiring a consulting business is a must when you start a consulting business. An accountant will help you find ways to lower your taxes. You’ll save much more than what you invest in an accountant.
And if you ever need legal advice, accountants are usually connected to lawyers. When it comes to your accounting, keep track of all of your numbers. Find the right accountant, and they’ll do this for you.
Setting Up Your Consulting Business Bank Account
Set up a business banking account for your consulting business. This will keep your personal income separate from your business income. It’s also much more professional. You’ll be able to write checks with your company name — and receive payments written to your company name, too.
Maintaining a professional image is important in this business. If you can set up a business account before you take your first payment, you’ll be in much better shape. Do it sooner rather than later.
Part 5 – Planning Successful Consulting Projects
This is one of the most overlooked areas for new consultants. They focus on creating a website and logo, they get business cards printed, they set up their office space and they give themselves a catchy name. Then they go out and try to find clients. But there’s one big gap in this plan.
Don’t Follow My Approach
What are you going to do when you get a client? When I first got started as a consultant, I winged it. I went in and figured things out without a written plan.
But I don’t recommend that approach. You don’t need to plan out a hundred-page system for your clients from day one — that would surely be a waste.
If you’re starting a consulting business with no experience, you should have a written plan of how you can help the clients you get.