|Professions - Professional Businesses|
What will I be doing?
As a business consultant you will help clients make informed decisions about subjects on which you have advanced knowledge and skills. Your expertise may be in managing professional offices, international marketing, computerized accounting, taxation or other subjects. In each case, you will be paid for sharing your knowledge and your experience with others. You will be offering valuable advice to businesses.
What will I need to start?
To sell business solutions to others you must have successfully solved business problems yourself. This requires experience in business, along with good communication skills. You will also need plenty of resources to help you answer questions.
To start your business consulting service, make sure you have developed the knowledge and skills you need. This takes time and training. Then find ways of certifying your knowledge and experience so that prospects will trust you. For example, a business communications consultant can earn professional certification from the Business Marketing Association.
Who will my customers be?
Your customers will be business owners and managers who need solutions to problems they face. If your field is tax accounting, your customers will be business people with tax accounting problems. If you specialize in helping small businesses grow, your customers will be those who own small businesses that need to grow to survive. You get the picture.
How much should I charge?
Many business consultants charge $50 to $150 an hour for their services, plus expenses. Most customers will actually be charged by the project or on retainer. A project such as developing a new marketing campaign will have a fee that is based on the estimated number of hours to be spent on the project.
How much will I make?
Not all of your time as a business consultant will be billable to clients. In fact, most consultants can only bill clients for 50 to 75 percent of their time. That means 20 to 30 hours a week are billable. At $60 an hour, gross income is $1,200 to $1,800 a week. Deduct 20 to 40 percent for typical overhead expenses to calculate your net income.
Of course, it will take a few months or even years to develop a group of clients that can make your consulting service profitable. However, once built, this business can offer both financial and personal rewards.
How can I get started?
To sell advanced knowledge and skills, you must first have developed them. You must have extensive training and experience in your field. You will also need some way of measuring this experience for clients: a certain number of years in a prominent business position, professional certification or some other measurable factor. Publishing articles or a book in your field can also help. In addition, make sure you join the primary associations in your trade. You will not only learn from membership, you will also develop resources and customers.
Here are some other resources: Association of Management Consulting Firms (212-697-9693); Institute of Management Consultants (212-697-8262). In addition, consider ordering The Upstart Guide to Owning and Managing a Consulting Service by Dan Ramsey, available on the Internet at http://www.MulliganPress.com.
The SIC code for business consultants is 8742-01.
How can I use computers to increase profits?
The computer is your best tool for tracking prospects, clients, appointments, resources, business news, and for invoicing. You can even use presentation software to present your qualifications to prospects. Review the various types of computer software for business in TOOLS. Then go online to search for resources that will help your consulting business grow.