Even a couple of decades ago, becoming an independent consultant was incredibly hard. You needed an address book of contacts as thick as a brick and enough start-up capital to get yourself going through the first lean years. You also needed years of experience to get to that stage.But that’s no longer the caseToday, an ever-growing number of skilled professionals are setting themselves up as independent consultants. The internet has played a big part in this, allowing people to market themselves and get leads much easier. And, there’s been a change in culture, where corporations are increasingly open to bringing experts to plug a gap without wanting to take someone on long term.
1. Work out your nicheYou need to be able to define clearly the benefit you bring customers. Do you have a background in HR? Focus on how you can help firms without an HR process get up to scratch. Is your experience in higher education? Provide services that educate the educators in best practice techniques. Once you’ve defined your niche, you can define your USP and build a business plan around it 2. Get a website so people can book your servicesProve to potential customers that you’re serious. You don’t need anything super flash, but you need a website that tells potential clients who you are, what you do, and lets them book your services easily. 3. Declare your activities to the authoritiesIn the US, as with most countries, you need to sign up with your state government as a sole-proprietor at a minimum (although there are other business structures which might suit you better). Once you’ve told the government what you’re doing, you can begin to trade legally. 4. Set up a separate bank account and financialsMany consultants begin working on the side of their old job. All the same, you need to separate money you earn from your business from your personal cash – this makes your income and outgoings form consulting much easier to manage. We’ve written more about the basics of record-keeping here. 5. Marketing to get your first customerHopefully you’ve already got some potential clients in your address book. But, to grow, you need to carry out marketing which will generate leads. The internet offers a ton of FREE tools you can use to generate a buzz about your business – from email, to an engaging website to social media. Read our blog on how to get more leads here. At Book Like a Boss, we want to help you grow like a boss! Read our small business advice blog for more tips.