‘Consultant – A person who provides expert advice professionally’ ‘Consultant’ is a very heavy title, comes with a lot of responsibility associated with it. In consulting, business People will look up to you for advice with their complex issues related to your field of practice. Overall it is a very challenging but equally rewarding career.
Now don’t get nervous already. Usually, consultants pick out a niche for themselves and become proficient in that discipline. So, to become a consultant you have to know all about one type of problem. This problem should be faced by many types of businesses and organizations. However, if your solution only helps a niche market you can charge more fees because of less competition. But if your solution serves a lot of people then there is more scalability.
Now, let us get down to the real talk!
How can you start your own consulting business?
Well, it’s not that difficult to enter into a consulting business. You can pick any one field from the following: Finance, IT (Information technology), Marketing, Accounting, Human Resource, etc. The key is to learn everything there is about that particular subject. Get some experience and off you go.
HaHaHa! well, it isn’t that easy either.
But, don’t worry we have worked out the perfect guide for the consultant in you. This quick guide will help you start and flourish your consulting business.
Step 1 – Pick your niche:
Self-awareness is the most important factor when you are planning to start any business. Similarly, before getting into any sort of consulting business you need to introspect a bit. Think about the following points at length: what are your best skills, your interest area, things you are good at and also your weaknesses. This will help you choose the right subject to become a master of.
Combinations of a different set of skills and knowledge are required for different fields in consulting. For example, the skill set and knowledge required to become a Headhunter (HR consultant) is completely different from that of an IT consultant.
Finding a niche of your interest will keep you motivated during turbulent times. So, understand your personality and pick your field accordingly.
Step 2 – Acquire Knowledge:
Once you have enlightened yourself with the field of your choice, it’s time for you to go out there and learn everything there is to learn about that topic.
Different vocations require a different level of qualifications & practice to be mastered. Also, Different places have different laws about independent practice. However, most of the fields don’t really require any formal certification. Sometimes just getting yourself registered may allow you to have an individual practice of your own. But if your inclination is towards fields like Tax, Accounting, Law, Finance, etc. Then in most countries, you are required to get yourself registered and qualified as per the regional laws. We suggest you should check with your local authorities about this.
Step 3 – Experience:
If you are going to advise someone about their problems & challenges, I’d suggest that you should first have a real-time experience of facing them yourself. Not only will this help you understand your future clients better but also understand the issues in depth.
Working for someone else who is also into the same business as you aspire to be in, helps a lot. This experience will prepare you for the difficult challenges you face in future. One crucial skill to learn would be, identifying tough clients. ‘Tough clients’ does not refer to difficult problems. The term simply addresses the people who are difficult to deal with and create hurdles in your work. I’d suggest its better to let go of such clients and work with the good ones.
If you are going to be an adviser for people, it’s natural that they may ask for your credentials. Real-time work experience has more acceptability in the market than a college degree or certification. Moreover, as a consultant with experience, you become far more attractive and can fetch more fees.
Step 4 – How to get clients:
Clients will come to you only if they believe that you have a solution to their problem. So, it is important that you create a strong brand image in the market. The best way to do so is by giving away a lot of value for free. This can be done by way of free seminars, arranging free one to one discussion sessions etc.
While giving away this value you need to think of every problem as pain for your client. At the time of the first encounter, it is necessary for you to give them instant relief. Think of it as a dose of pain killer. Once they get comfortable then you start explaining them the cause of the problem. This is the time where you have to convince them of your knowledge and ability. Once you have won their faith it’s much easier to close the deal.
Now, this first encounter doesn’t necessarily have to be a face to face discussion. It can be anything like a seminar, a social media campaign, a lunch meeting etc. Let it be any scenario you will have to give away some free value.
(Bonus point: Always target big clients. It’s much easier to get your good fees from a big company rather than from small business)
Step 5 – Pricing Your Services:
Now when it comes to pricing, most consultants end up charging less for their services. The right way to decide your price is charging a little more than what you think you are worth.
You may assume that your job is not very difficult and that’s because you are an expert. Your knowledge is usually of more value to others than you think. At the same time, you need to make sure that you do justice to your clients. Living up to their expectations by providing quality services is one way of ensuring that.
One of the most important things that you need to remember as a consultant is that people relate price tags to quality and sophistication. When you decide to put a bigger price tag, make sure that you present yourself as worthy of it and back it up.
“Always remember a satisfied client today means two more in the future.”