When working a 9 to 5 grind has got you down, you may be considering how to start your own business. If you've been the expert at something in a corporate job, you could break into the business of speaking about it or even consulting to other businesses. Do you want to make money with your expertise, working on your own terms, and are you ready to get started?
Entrepreneurship starts when you decide what you're good at and how to sell that.
Here are best practices for starting a consulting business to get paid doing what you love.
Research and Prepare
If you've been working in a particular field for a while, you likely already know what businesses are looking for. Do some research on the questions you've been asked or the challenges faced by your target market. Decide what topics are applicable and interesting to this target market so that you're speaking their language. Find out what others in your field are doing and prepare your unique take on the answers to these challenges. Decide who will be your audience, how you will present the solutions they need, which solutions you'll offer and how much you'll charge.
Market Your Services
Once you have a clear picture of your consulting services, you'll need to develop a marketing plan. How will you let companies know what you'll be offering?
To begin, consider a solid digital foundation - website, social media and email. A simple website is all that you need to highlight your experience and services. As an example of website services offering, click the "What We Do" green button below.
If you'll be speaking or consulting, add a video of you presenting to an audience. It's helpful for those visiting your website to see what you're about and how you carry yourself. Speaking events are fairly easy to come by if you don't mind doing it for free initially. You can speak at your local chamber of commerce or to local networking groups. These events will also put you in front of potential businesses that could use your services.
Social media is a good place to share what you're about and give clues on your unique proposition for businesses. Use both social media and email marketing to connect with those in your network and let them know that you're branching out on your own.
Grow Your Business and Get Paid
Once you have a few consulting gigs under your belt, use this experience to grow your business. Ask for testimonials for your website or your social media pages. Follow up on referrals and other potential opportunities. Keep networking and talking to your target audience. When they start asking for something different, learn about these new challenges and propose new solutions. If you can pivot with your market, your services will continue to increase in value.
Set your prices to reflect the true value of your time and adjust when necessary. Consider asking for a retainer or half the cost of a project up front. Set boundaries and payment terms and always get it in writing. Invoice often and follow-up when a client doesn't pay on time.
You are capable of creating a business and life that you love. Keep your eyes and ears open for new opportunities and be creative with possibilities. Know the value of your expertise and charge appropriately.