How to Start a Successful Consulting Business: The Complete 10 Step Guide (12222)
Prospective clients rarely look for consultants until they have a pressing need. They made it happen. The point is that, when most clients are in the market for help, they wanted it yesterday. And they want the best consultants they can find, at an affordable price. So, take the time to define what makes you the best consultant for the specific types of clients you want to work with.
The less specific you are, the less likely it is clients will think of you when they need help. Why would clients turn to you for their most important projects? Be prepared to answer these questions during your first conversation with them:. You may only have that one minute to make a first impression on a client, so make it count. The market has no shortage of prospective clients, but truly profitable projects can be few and far between. And for that, you must have a marketing plan. A real one. As a result, they drift from project to project, getting by on meager profit margins.
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Guerrillas begin that process by creating a one-page marketing plan that lays out how to get and hold onto profitable clients. You can draft your first marketing plan in seven sentences:. To create a marketing plan that maximizes your visibility in the market.
And, most importantly, once you begin your marketing program, never stop. Perhaps the most serious challenge facing consultants is client skepticism. In a study by business analysis firm Ross McManus, only 35 percent of clients are satisfied with their consultants. Part of the problem is that many consultants are deep subject-matter experts, but less familiar with the consulting process. Before you get too far into the business, get a firm grasp of the fundamentals of consulting, including how to:.
You can save years of learning things the hard way. Your clearest path to a new client is your network of former employers and others who can make introductions to get that first project kicked off. Keep in mind, though, that consulting begins and ends with results. To succeed, you must offer and deliver undisputed value to your clients and everyone else in your network.
Although related to each other in several aspects, management consultants differ vastly from entrepreneurs. They are:. At this stage, an entrepreneur decides on the central idea of his startup company. He focuses on the three core innovation skills — thinking, talking and doing.
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Thinking is research. Research and analysis done well will reveal the needs of the market and what kind of product or service it is ready for. But, of course, as a consultant, the ability to innovate is limited — creativity cannot be acquired, nor does it come from experience.
Hence, skills learned from being a consultant helps only limited at this stage of starting your business. As an entrepreneur you must be able and willing to act proactively. You must display the three central qualities of a proactive actor — self-discipline, optimism and competitiveness. As an entrepreneur you should be able to plan his resources, whether they are financial, personal or time-related.
You should be able to set realistic deadlines and routinely meet them. Successful entrepreneurs are continuous learners. They do not shy away from asking for advice from their mentors. They communicate frequently and clearly. They are endless networkers, always looking for opportunities to create new customer bases. Here, the following two qualities of an entrepreneur come into play during the growth stage of a startup:. The analytical and problem-solving skills of a consultant do come in handy when transforming into an entrepreneur.
Building a rock-solid reputation and competitive advantage will guarantee profits. This brings us back to the question: Does Management Consulting prepare you for Entrepreneurship? The answer is YES. A vast majority of the skills are pretty useful. Responsibility is typically restricted if you are a management consultant.
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You are only responsible to solve company problems analytically and using market and industry knowledge. But the responsibility for the success of the solution, when implemented, is not carried by a management consultant. The stress situation for a management consultant typically stems from client pressure and the urgency to meet deadlines. Getting random work assignments also lengthens the project and increases the stress level. Then there is the much-dreaded travel-related stress. The scenario is vastly different when you assume the role of an entrepreneur.
Other people are there just to help. You need to inculcate the sense of responsibility in them and help them embrace your values. From these values, you will be able to create a work culture that is unique and beneficial to your company. You are responsible for measuring the performance of your company and driving it. You need to plan your time slots and set priorities to your tasks. An entrepreneur is not only responsible to solve startup issues, but also to take and carry the risk of the decisions made during every stage of the startup development.
Hence, an entrepreneur experiences rather often the so-called roller coaster. Secondly, as an entrepreneur, you are liable to use up your personal savings on your business. You should have the gumption and the moral fiber to put your hard-earned money on the line. As an entrepreneur, you will be required to invest a lot of your personal time and, of course, your health in your business.
You also must have the ability to cope with a less-than-steady cash flow. However, one of the biggest responsibility to take as an entrepreneur is to completely trust your employees. As a startup, you would not have the luxury of hiring a full-fledged team and will have to pass on a few important tasks to some key employees. Absolute trust is a must in this scenario. Stress in the case of entrepreneurship is based mostly on the market. It also has a lot to do with your constant endeavor not to make a wrong decision and dent your business prospects. Mostly, No. But consulting has little to do with coaching you on your responsibilities.
It teaches you great skills, no doubt, but skills alone are not enough to assume the role of a successful entrepreneur. Responsibilities can seldom be taught and are not acquired by experience. Experience in the market and industry will impart a set of essential skills to the management consultant. A highly-educated and management trained consultant can ease his way into the market. The market, especially, provides a consultant ample opportunities to hone his domain expertise and make practical use of it. Management consulting prepares you to face the market by associating you with clients that have a strong market presence.
Working with these clients in order to augment their operational efficiency and formulate business strategies helps you be at the top of things in your domain. Typical requirements of the market and industry knowledge for becoming an Entrepreneur and starting your business:. This knowledge helps you understand the market — your competitors, their pricing strategies , new entrants , new products, etc.
As far as expertise is concerned, definitely. Aptitude is the biggest fringe benefit that you can hope to gain by being associated with major industry players as a consultant.
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As an entrepreneur, the biggest challenge is to initiate co-working interaction. When you start your own business, it is highly probable that you are working with a few or no co-founders at all. The best thing to do in this situation is to communicate and associate with other similar entrepreneurs. But as your company gets bigger, you have to ensure a friendly and collaborative atmosphere in your company. Hence, co-working skills will be of use for every entrepreneur as well. Yes, co-working and people skills gained as a consultant should help you in forging new social and business relationships.
Working hours in management consulting are not predictable — they vastly depend on the project you have at hand. Although you generally work fixed hours, it is often difficult or even impossible to predict possible overtime hours. Working hours in entrepreneurship can vary depending on your current projects and the development stage you are in. Overtime hours are very typical especially for young startups. Yes , management consulting does prepare you to take up ad hoc responsibilities as an entrepreneur.
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It also prepares you for those last-minute schedule changes as and when they come. Traveling may be appealing to the new consultant, but with time, travel takes its toll, especially when the consultant has a family to care for. Management consulting will prepare you to schedule your travels and make last-minute travel arrangements. As an entrepreneur, you are much less likely to travel unplanned. However, due to business constraints, you will most likely be obligated to travel when you want to communicate in person with your clients or look for investors in other cities or even countries.
When you start as a business model which requires geographical flexibility, your traveling experience as a former consultant comes in handy. You are able to carry over your cultivated habits of flying to different locations and entertaining clients. Partly Yes , management consulting definitely would help you in some areas of entrepreneurship. It does so in the following ways:. BUT this is not the full list of the skills required for entrepreneurship. This depends on the development stage of your startup, on the industry where the startup is working, etc.
Here are a few real life instances of successful entrepreneurs with previous experience in management consulting. A commerce graduate from the University of Toronto, Diana had several years worth of experience as a swimming instructor under her belt. With a high-profile job in her hands, Diana still dreamt of starting a swimming school for children that would provide individualized training. Pretty soon, Diana realized her dreams in the form of AquaMobile Swim School — a school providing premium coaching to children.
A part-time business at first, the school soon developed into a full-time business once Diana realized its immense business potential.