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Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Consultant?
First off, to be a consultant you must have knowledge, actual experience or have been trained to offer advice and services to companies and businesses that seek it. Consultants can analyze and offer advice but they can also train, help to promote, and even work with bookkeepers to improve accounting skills.
Before you get those business cards printed with your consulting expertise, do you know what are the most sought consulting business ideas? Do you know where to make contacts to even offer your services? Just putting an ad in your local newspaper may not be all it takes to open a consulting business.
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How to Be a Consultant
Before you decide on the type of consulting business you want to explore, make a list of your qualifications. List your education, degrees, and certifications. List the jobs you most enjoyed in your career or excelled at. Enlist the help of friends and family by asking them what they think of your various qualities.
With list in hand, narrow it down by deciding what type of consultant you want to be. For example, if you love teaching, a consultant instructor job may be for you. If you can sell ice to Eskimos, perhaps your knowledge could help boost a sales team. Are you the best and brightest at the number crunching game? Maybe accounting services is the right field.
Once you review your list, you may see that you can consult in more than one area. If you have a background in human resources, you may be able to consult on payroll, payroll tax issues, and even employee handbooks or coaching. Try to combine like skills to find the best consulting business idea that will work for you.
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Most Popular Consulting Business Ideas
While there are many areas where you can offer your services, there are some consulting businesses that do better than others. Here’s a look at top consulting business picks:
- Web Development – Every company needs a website but not all business owners are qualified or know how to create one. If you like designing websites, are good with search engine optimization (SEO) and know how to get the customer’s message across, web development may be right for you.
- Advertising/Media – Many business owners choose to skip the large advertising firms they can’t afford and choose consultants to help them create print ads, radio ads, and even television commercials. If you can write witty copy or know how to shoot a commercial, the advertising or media game is a good consulting idea.
- Accounting – Everyone knows of a family member or friend that prepares everyone’s tax returns and never charges a dime. If this is you, why not charge for your services? Accounting support is also needed at large companies who need help or small companies who have no accounting system at all.
- Business Consulting – If you’ve ever owned a business, you most likely know all there is to teach new business owners on how to open their own. The world of business consulting can range from offering all the paperwork and licensing requirements to open a business to teaching new business owners how to apply for small business loans to business coaching skills.
- Sales Consulting – The world of sales consulting is on the rise, especially when sales departments and salespeople search for ways to improve on the sales pitch or try something new.
- Marketing – Business owners may know all about their product or service but do they know how to market it? If consumers don’t know how to find them, the small business owner will fail. If you have marketing skills, this business consulting idea is right for you.
- Computer Technology – Whether you want to be a mobile computer technician or design networks for businesses, the world of computer consulting is vast. Your IT knowledge can get you life-long contacts for repairs, teaching, and purchasing new equipment for your clients.
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What Should You Charge?
Now that you’ve decided upon the type of consultant you want to be, what should you charge for your services? You could do a little networking and find out what others charge or you could use this simple method:
- Current Salary – How much do you make now? You will want your consulting business to replace that salary.
- Expenses – Make a list of all your business expenses like licenses, certifications, insurance, business cards, brochures, and advertising expenses. Don’t forget to include your cell phone or business phone, along with Internet services you must pay while researching items for your clients. It’s also important to estimate how much local, state, and federal employment taxes you will need to pay. Social security tax is 6.2% of your gross wages and Medicare tax is 1.45% of your gross wages. Don’t forget mortgage or rent payments and your normal living expenses.
- Health Insurance –How much will your health insurance cost you once you become a consultant? If you have a family, you should include the cost for your entire family.
- Hourly Rate – Take the annual salary you wish to make and deduct all your expenses and health insurance. There are approximately 1, 928 working hours in a year assuming you take vacation time. Divide your final calculation by the number of hours you expect to work to come up with an hourly charge for your consulting services. If you have trouble estimating this, ask a friend or mentor to help you so you don’t miss any expenses.
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How to Find Clients
While all of this seems simple, how do you find clients? It’s always a good idea to hit the streets and drop off brochures. You can make a database of company emails and send bulk emails offering your services.
Networking and trade shows are a great way to find clients. Social networking such as LinkedIn is an excellent place to spread the word about your business. A press release in your local newspaper or radio station can get your message across as well.
Don’t forget friends and family members who work in your area of business consulting expertise and ask them to recommend you. Finally, once a job well done is completed, ask your clients to refer your services.
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Summing Up Business Consulting Ideas
Almost anyone can open a consulting business based on education, knowledge, and career experience and training. Before you delve right in, take steps to ensure you are on the right track and calculate an hourly rate you need to charge for your business consulting in order to make an adequate living.