How to Use Your Expertise to Start a Consulting Business

Turn your experience and expertise into a lucrative side hustle.

  • Commit to working for 2-3 companies for free at first. This will give you a good sense of your consulting style, and there’s a clear difference between being able to say, “I can help you increase your profit margin” and “I helped two companies triple their profit margin.” Potential clients want to hear about clients you’ve worked in the past. The Ambition Plan writes that offering to work for free is also a great way to “meet and spend time with influential people in your industry.” Get out there and show them what you have to offer!
  • Once you get some experience under your belt, craft an offer that makes sense. Choosing a price is also why it’s so important to know what exactly you can do for companies or individuals. If you help companies hit six figures in their first six months, it’s reasonable to charge at a higher price tag than if you just “help companies become profitable quickly.”
  • Then, figure out if you’ll offer consulting on a retainer or just on one-off sessions. Both serve different purposes. If you have one core branding strategy session for startups, perhaps it will just be a two-hour immersive meeting at one set price. But, if you help with a longer-term strategy and go into the trenches with them, a retainer would be more appropriate. Consulting services usually go on retainer.
  • Retainer fees generally come into play when you hire an attorney. If you anticipate you’ll be contacting your attorney with a lot of routine questions, you should considering hiring–and paying–them on retainer. That means paying them a monthly fee that entitles you to all the routine legal advice you need. A close cousin of the retainer payment method is the “prepaid legal plan.” Prepaid legal plans have been compared to HMOs because they offer certain basic services for a monthly retainer fee. Prices range from as little as $10 per month to $70 or more; in return, an entrepreneur gets a package of services such as unlimited phone consultation with a lawyer, review of three contracts per month, up to 10 debt collection letters per month and discounts on other legal services.
  • Create materials promoting your consulting business. Make sure to write to their pain points and rely heavily on past experiences for credibility. Then, brand strategist Erin Feree recommends marketing through a blog, a newsletter, and a small website. Create more succinct versions of your sales script, such as small paragraphs that can be used as a bio on blogs or in the “about” section on a newsletter.
  • Finally, remember that the best way to demonstrate your expertise to your audiences online is to release content associated with what you consult on. This type of content is often referred to as “top of the funnel content,” and will give potential clients a taste for your style and insights, thus establishing trust. They need to be able to see your obvious expertise in order to want to hire you.
  • Do you offer social media consulting? Post a few social media tips a week. Do you offer HR consulting? Post a few HR tips or stories a week. Over time, this will begin to equate with your brand and appeal to your audience. If you feel like you’re running out of content, Tsavo Neil recommends asking your audience what they’re struggling with. The more you can start to solve their problems, the more they’ll see you as the industry leader.
  • Over time, as you continue to land clients and help them, you’ll have enough case studies and numerical evidence to expand your consulting business beyond a side hustle.

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/345437

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