It seems like a dream opportunity to start your own business. No bosses, no deadlines — full freedom to work with whoever or whenever you want.
However, starting a new business, no scratch that, starting a consulting business is not easy.
Starting a consulting business checklist is big. From selecting your consultation field to finding your first client — there is a long road ahead.
On top of it, the consulting industry is growing at lightning speed. In 2020, the global consulting market was $132 billion.
Though, the pandemic has taken a toll on the industry. And the revenue dropped to 12.5% after 2019.
But things are getting back to normal. That leads to higher growth in the consulting sector in the coming days.
All in all, today is the right time to start your consulting business. However, before you dig in, start your business the right way.
That is because, right now, competition is high, and the economy is unstable.
So, follow this guide to explore the complete ‘starting a consulting business checklist.’
Here’s Starting a Consulting Business Checklist
The consulting business sector is tightly knitted. Nearly 40% of the industry consists of four major consulting firms — PwC, EY, KPMG and Deloitte.
And there are also companies like McKinsey & Company and BCG.
So, finding your place among these consulting sharks is not easy.
But it is not impossible either. You simply have to follow this ‘starting a consulting business checklist’ to give the right start to your business.
Checklist #1. Narrow down your niche
Foremost, you have to find an area to provide consulting services.
Here I suggest never going with general consulting when you are just starting. The reason?
It is competitive out there. It will take you ages to find your footing in generic fields.
Thus, you have to think deeper and narrow down your niche.
Let’s think this way. There are thousands of management consulting firms available. But only a handful of them provides services to B2B firms. And even less work in the B2B SaaS industry.
So, you need to focus on your core skills and enter into the niche you specialize in.
If you are struggling to find your niche, follow these techniques:
- Identify your skills, experience and qualifications
- Understand which consulting niche will work in the long run
- Determine which areas have demand for your services
- Ask yourself how can you better help your clients
- Do you want to limit your business to one location, etc.?
Checklist:#2. Select your business model
After choosing a consulting business niche, you need to pick a business model.
This step is crucial in starting a consulting business checklist. So, choose your business model after thorough consideration.
Here are the common consulting business models:
Solo consultant model
In this model, you will one-on-one work with your clients to complete the project. This is the perfect model for you if you want to work alone with no or limited team.
Consulting firm model
Here you are not just running a project for clients. Instead, you are running a firm or process for clients.
For example, many accounting consulting firms help companies with bookkeeping, auditing, taxation, etc.
You need a full team and infrastructure to support several clients for this setup.
Productized consulting model
This is a skill-based consulting model. Here you can create a product using your skills and experience.
Suppose you are working as a content strategist for B2C brands. After years of delivering custom services, you created an e-course using your knowledge. Now that course is your product.
This model is perfect if you want to scale your business. You can remove yourself from the day-to-day workload. And let your product do the work for you.
Hybrid consulting model
As the name suggests, it is a mixture of all three models.
You select all three consulting models and combine them to produce a hybrid model.
It is a large work model. It takes a big team and resources to adopt this model.
So, when you have a significant experience and market base, only then follow this model.
Checklist 3. Identify your customers
Who are your targeted customers?
This is the crucial question to ask when you are starting a consulting business.
Without knowing your customers, you can’t move ahead. You can’t decide on your marketing or sales plans without having a clear idea about your customers.
In starting a consulting business checklist, I’ll recommend spending the most time on this step as it is the base for all upcoming steps.
Here you can follow these methods to find your ideal customers:
Who can you help with your business?
People will only come to your business when you can solve their particular problems.
Thus, you should ask yourself who can benefit from your business.
Suppose you offer marketing consultation and lead generation services to startups.
In that case, your core customers are startup owners.
However, you can dig deeper and narrow your customer base to customize your content.
Validate your ideal client base
Understanding who is your potential customer is the first step.
After that, you have to validate your ideal customers.
It means to go out and talk to your prospects. This will help you understand their problems.
You can remove the guesswork and learn what exactly your customers want.
That’s because the main goal of consulting businesses is to solve problems. Therefore, people will only come to you when you can solve their specific problems.
To know your customer, there is no need to move from door to door.
Simply use tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator to list your potential 10-20 clients.
After that, send them a connection request. Then, send them introductory messages and ask them about their problems.
This simple trick will help you better know what your customers need.
Checklist #4. Gather business management tools
Tools are important to run consulting businesses. You need tools to manage your clients and projects.
Also, tools are essential to send invoices and collect payments from different clients.
With the right tech bundle, you can serve a large client base at once. Moreover, you can manage several projects and team members with a click.
Here are some basic tools that you need to start a consulting business:
- Project management software
- Client management software
- Invoice generator
- Time and task tracking
- Proposals and contracts management software
Now, no need to feel overwhelmed. You can get all these features in one tool.
Kosmo is the best project and client management portal for freelancers and contractors.
You can get many great features to start a consulting business with Kosmo, like:
- Create custom proposals and contracts based on individual clients’ needs.
- Track your tasks and how much time you have spent on each session.
- Create branded invoices and receive payments via PayPal, Credit Card or ACH transfer.
- Maintaining a client database and tracking projects in client managers.
- Define project goals, notes and files.
- Set and track your income goals.
- Add reminders, create branded emails, recurring tasks and more.
The best part is yet to come. Kosmo is totally free. Yep, if you run a solo consulting firm, there is no need to spend a penny to get the software.
Though, if you want to manage unlimited clients and projects. In that case, you can get a full Kosmo pack for only $9 per month.
Now that’s what we call the perfect startup tool.
Checklist #5. Document your business plan
People often rush things to launch a new business. But unfortunately, they forget an important point when starting a consulting business checklist point — writing a business plan.
It is not compulsory to write down your business plan. But you should do it anyway.
A well-written business plan can provide the right direction and goals to you. It can help to keep your entire team on the same page.
According to a study, entrepreneurs who write a business plan are 2.5 times more likely to launch their business.
Now, there is no need to obsess about writing down every small detail.
A one-page business plan with clear guidelines and structure is sufficient.
Checklist #6. Find your people
Bill Gates once said, “Take our 20 best people away, and I will tell you that Microsoft will become an unimportant company.”
Thus, the people who work with you matter the most in your business success.
You need people who have the same passion and vision as you. But you don’t need “Yes, boss kind of people!”
You need people who are not afraid to challenge you and push you to become a better version of yourself.
So, when you are gathering your team, consider the following things:
Go for the experience, not the degree
An academic degree only tells that a person is well taught. But experience shows a person’s potential and knowledge.
So, hire people who possess the significant experience to help you. People who can use their experience to grow your business.
A good learner
If your budget doesn’t allow you to hire experienced professionals, hire good learners.
Hire energetic and passionate freshers who are hungry to learn. You can coach these people and carve their talent.
Partner with your clone
Have you met someone who is your complete clone?
I mean, they have the same business goals, aspirations, and ambitions as yours.
Then, hold on to that person and make them your business partner.
Starting a consulting business is equal to long and unpaid working hours.
So, having a business partner enthusiastic like you will give a competitive edge to your business.
At the final stop, you must build a unique brand identity, voice and appearance.
It has to be something that can distinguish your business from the rest.
Let’s take Coca-Cola as an example. No matter how many beverages are present on the shopping store shelf, you can identify Coca-Cola bottles from the farthest end.
And that kind of branding you need to set up a successful consulting business.
Also, consultants are considered professionals and masters in their fields.
Thus, your brand image should scream professionalism and uniqueness.
There are a few that you can do to build a solid brand image:
- Pick a color palette for your business.
- Use the same colors to create your business logo, websites and other marketing assets.
- Head over to social media to shout out your business message to the world.
- Publish relevant and relatable content on your website.
- Use paid marketing tools like PPC ads to establish your brand everywhere.
Let’s Start a Consulting Business Now!
Congratulations! You have explored the entire ‘starting a consulting business checklist.’
Now, you know what it takes to start a new consulting business from scratch. You need a proper business plan, toolkit, branding strategy, and so much more.
As you can see, starting a new consulting business is not hard. You just need the right direction and plan to start your new journey. Now, you can follow this checklist and start preparing for your consulting career.
So, I won’t hold you anymore. And let you set up your consulting business plan now. Best of luck, my mate. So, I won’t hold you anymore. And let you set up your consulting business plan now. Best of luck, my mate.
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