It is often said that no (wo) man is an island . It’s a phrase that holds true even in business. No entity can claim to have all the internal capacity necessary to fulfil all its business functions.
There comes a time when a business has to seek the help and expertise of another person or organisation to meet a specific skillset.
It is for this reason that consulting businesses emerged and why the industry continues to grow. If you’re thinking of venturing into or hoping to grow your consulting business, here are some things to consider.
What you’ll need
1. Clarify what you offer
Consultancy is about providing services that meet the needs of your clients. You can’t attract business from people if you’re not clear on what benefit they will derive from engaging with you. Have a clear understanding of what you’re able to offer to make it easier to convince potential clients of your business capabilities. This will also help you focus your efforts on carving out and building a niche.
2. Assemble a competent team
However good of a professional you are, you cannot do everything by yourself. Every so often, you’re going to need someone to help you out in the areas you’re not strong in, or to pick up some of the work if you become too overwhelmed with clients.
This, however, doesn’t mean that you have to hire full-time staff. You can start off with part-time help until you’re stable enough and have the kind of regular workload that would necessitate hiring full-time employees. The important thing it to identify people you can work seamlessly with.
Having a skilled team also helps you share responsibilities to maximise your strengths and achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness.
3. Build a client base from those you already know
Getting your first client can be a struggle, considering that you may not have a portfolio of previous work done that potential clients can refer to.
You can navigate this hurdle by marketing your services to people you already know, like family, friends and colleagues. This group of people is easy to approach and convince based on the existing relationship between you and them.
You may also consider doing pro-bono work as a way of building a profile and getting your business known.
4. Get pricing right
One of the trickiest things in any business is putting the right price on your product or service. Pricing can make the difference between a client offering you business and going to your competitor.
Apart from considering your production or input costs, you also need to research and identify market rates. Your prices should be within the market range – not too high nor too low. Your pricing should also be reflected in the quality of services and value you offer.
5. Focus on building your brand first
Consulting is founded on trust, which is earned over time from the interactions people have with the business. As you establish and run a consulting business, the primary focus should be on getting people to build confidence in your brand.
Concentrate on setting yourself apart by clearly demonstrating why clients should pick you and not your competitors. This, over time, will help you establish a potential client base that you can convert into actual business. It takes time and needs patience, but will pay off in the end.
6. Invest in your business
When you make up your mind to get into business, you need to commit yourself fully to it if it’s to succeed. Before reaping any profits, you’ll need to invest a lot of your time, money, sweat and skills into it. In other words, you’ll have to put your money where your mouth is.
Take the time to understand the field you work in and to learn from those who’ve succeeded in it. When you invest in your own business you develop a passion and emotional connection with it that would make you go to any length to see it succeed.
Investing in your business is a sign that you believe in your dreams, and this will definitely be seen in how you manage the business and treat its clients.
Venturing into any business is a journey of faith – you’re not guaranteed success. Along the way, you’ll make mistakes, experience setbacks and discover new ways of doing things. The most important thing is pick your path, stay on course and give it your best effort.