Start promoting your consulting business
When you’re new to the consulting game, the most important thing to remember about your marketing strategy is: more is better. Don’t worry too much about fancy tactics, just get your name out there to start getting clients. Here are some things you can do:
- Share your website with anyone and everyone in your network
- Consider producing thought leadership content for a blog or social media accounts—write about your consulting subject and your personal experience with it
- Ensure your LinkedIn company page is filled out, linked to your website, and that you post on LinkedIn regularly
- Create profiles on listing services like Upwork
- Spend small amounts on targeted digital ads on Facebook and Google Ads—learn how with this guide
- Set up social media accounts (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter—whichever are appropriate for your business), post frequently, and make sure you respond to comments
- Ask satisfied clients to leave great reviews (Durable can help with that)
- If you think you’ll encounter potential clients in real life, hand out business cards with reckless abandon
Get ready to get paid
The last thing to do before you greet your first client is make sure you can get paid, easily and reliably. That means you need an easy-to-use invoicing tool like the one from Durable. It automatically generates professional invoices with integrated payment options so your clients can settle up quickly without confusion.
You should also open a business bank account to keep your personal and professional finances separated, which is essential to running an organized business, especially at tax time. Durable Money is the easiest way to get an online bank account that works seamlessly with your invoices and website.
Once your consultancy starts to grow
After your initial startup and client acquisition phase, you’ll start to become more comfortable and likely find yourself with a little breathing room. That’s a great time to implement a few simple things to keep your success on an upward trajectory.
Brand your consulting business
There’s a good chance that up to this point you’ve been operating as a sole proprietor under your own name. But if you want to build a brand around your consultancy, you should consider coming up with a name that is unique and memorable. If you need help coming up with a good name for your consulting business, try out the AI business name generator. It’s great at coming up with suggestions.
If you want to further brand your business, you can also choose brand colors and design a simple logo that you can use on your website, business cards, invoices, etc.
Expand your marketing strategy
You found your first clients with a simple, broadly applied set of marketing tactics. Now you can think about reaching more potential customers using some advanced strategies.
- Competitive analysis. Who are your competitors and how much are they charging? What kinds of marketing tactics do they employ? Anything you learn about your competition can help you hone your marketing strategy.
- Understand your client. Which characteristics are common amongst your favorite clients? Which clients are more hassle than they are worth? Look at commonalities between your existing clients to guide your marketing efforts when seeking new ones.
- Send email. It’s more effective than social media and you can talk to recipients about anything you want: tips, discounts, service offerings, etc. So send email communications to everyone on your contact list.
- Webinars/podcasts. If you’ve got a mind for multimedia, consider starting a podcast or hosting webinars where you can discuss your niche of business consultancy and further build your brand. Just be careful not to give away too much for free.
- Set up a CRM. You need a way to keep track of your contacts, from potential customers to active clients, suppliers, and more. Client relationship management software is the best way to make that happen.
Purchase business insurance
As a consultant, you’re going to be deeply involved with businesses that aren’t your own. If you make a mistake that ends up costing your client a lot of money, if you damage property, or if someone gets hurt on your own property (e.g. if you have an office) you’re going to be very happy to have liability insurance. For a more in-depth look at business insurance, check out our guide to business insurance, then talk to a trusted broker to see what options are available.
Write a consulting business plan
Writing a business plan is an excellent way to boil down all your business ambitions into achievable goals, figure out strategies to achieve them, and stay focused along the path to victory. Your business plan does not need to be a herculean undertaking—just put together a straightforward document that you can refer to when times get tough. Check out this consulting business plan example if you need a little help getting started.
Register your business entity
Many small business owners start out as sole proprietors, which is an informal business type that usually doesn’t require much paperwork. However, there are advantages to registering as a formal business structure, such as an LLC. Formal business entities can offer protection from liabilities, increased funding options, and valuable tax benefits, so it’s worth considering. If you decide you’d like to register your business, work with a CPA or business attorney to determine which one is best for your consulting business.
Scale your consulting business
If you’re operating your consulting business as just one person, eventually you’re going to max out the number of hours you can work in a day. That means your income will effectively be capped unless you figure out some strategies to scale your business.
- Raise your rates—this is the easiest way to boost your income and your clients won’t hesitate to pay a little more for quality service, so don’t hesitate to do it.
- Hire part-time, full-time, or contract employees to help you with administrative and client-focused tasks, freeing you up to accept more clients.
- Secure financing or investment for major expansion projects, such as purchasing office space or new technology that will help you work faster.
When scaling, don’t try to grab too much at once—spend carefully and remember that you don’t have to get huge if you don’t want to. But if you do, you’ve got the skills to make it happen.