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How to start a consulting business on the side

20 May, 2023 · 5 min read·Consulting firm
How to start a consulting business on the side
Learn how to start a consulting business on the side by following these simple steps. Discover what it takes to turn your expertise into a profitable side hustle.

Are you looking to generate some extra income while building your professional network? Starting a consulting business on the side might be the right solution. In the US alone, the consulting market is estimated to be around $64 billion.

A consulting business can help you leverage your skills and expertise while offering a flexible working schedule that aligns with your day job. Keep reading to learn the steps of how to begin consulting on the side.

Why starting a consulting business on the side is a great idea

Starting a consulting business on the side can offer a wealth of opportunities for those looking to enhance their careers and make extra money. As a business owner of a consultancy, you can help companies or individuals solve problems using your expertise. In turn, you can expand your professional network, establish your personal brand, and work on a flexible schedule.

Running a consulting business on the side can also be a great source of passive income. As you work with more clients, your revenue streams will diversify, and you can build a steady flow of cash. Simultaneously, consulting on the side provides an avenue for meeting other professionals in your industry, exchanging knowledge and information, and ultimately expanding your personal and professional networks.

Plus, consulting allows you to take your skills and knowledge outside the limitations of your day job and give back to your community. All of these benefits together make side consulting an excellent idea for anyone looking to build their career and portfolio.

Finding your consulting niche

Before starting a consulting business on the side, it's important to identify your area of expertise and skills to determine your consulting niche. This will enable you to offer services that are in demand. Plus, you can ensure that you can provide value to your clients. Follow these steps to find your consulting niche.

Identifying your expertise and skills

The first step in finding your consulting niche is identifying your expertise and skills. This could be something you do in your day job or an area where you’ve developed proficiency through hobbies or other activities. Make a list of your skills and experience to help you identify the areas where you can offer consulting services.

Choosing a profitable consulting niche

Once you have identified your skills and expertise, the next step is to choose a profitable consulting niche. Look for industries or areas that have a high demand for consulting services and where you can provide unique expertise. This will help ensure that you have a pool of potential clients. Plus, you can ensure that you can earn a good income from your side business.

Conducting market research

After identifying your consulting niche, conduct market research to determine the demand for your services. Look for potential competitors and evaluate their services, pricing, and target market. This will help you identify gaps in the market. You’ll also determine areas where you can differentiate yourself from your competitors.

Establishing your brand

Establishing your brand is crucial. Why? It will create a first impression of your business and set the tone for all future interactions with potential clients. The key elements below will help you create a strong brand for your consulting business.

Attract. Win. Serve.

Creating a logo and business name

Begin building your brand identity by creating a logo and business name. Think carefully about your business name, as it should be brandable and memorable. Your logo should be simple, visually appealing, and represent your business values. Don't have the design skills to create a logo yourself? Then consider hiring a freelance graphic designer to do it for you.

Developing your messaging

Your messaging should be clear and concise. It should convey the value that you offer. Define your unique selling proposition (USP) and integrate it into all marketing materials. Your messaging should resonate with your target audience, speaking to their pain points and offering solutions to their problems. Keep your messaging consistent across all channels, from your website to your email signature.

Setting up a website and social media accounts

A website is crucial for establishing your online presence and showcasing your services to potential clients. Make your website easy to navigate. It should also be optimized for search engines. You can use platforms like WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, or B12 to build your website without any coding experience. Social media accounts can help you expand your reach and connect with new leads. Identify the key social media platforms where your target audience is active and develop a strategy for creating valuable content that engages and informs them.

Building your brand authority

To build your brand authority, consider writing articles, speaking at events, and publishing a book. These efforts can help establish you as an expert in your niche. Additionally, it can differentiate you from other consulting firms. Collaborating with other professionals and experts in your industry can also help boost your credibility and visibility. Building your brand authority is a long-term strategy that requires consistent effort, but it can pay off in terms of attracting high-quality clients and charging premium rates.

Establishing your brand is a crucial step in launching your consulting firm on the side. By developing a strong logo and business name, defining your messaging and online presence, and building up your brand authority, you can create a lasting first impression and distinguish yourself in a competitive market. Stay consistent and focused on your brand identity as you move on to defining your services and rates in the next section.

Defining your consulting services and rates

The next step is to define the services you will offer to clients. You need to clearly define what you can offer to your consulting clients. Ask yourself: how can they benefit from your services? This will help you to create a clear and concise service description that will showcase your unique value proposition.

Defining your scope of work

It's important to define the scope of work that you will be offering as a consultant. Look at what your clients will expect from your new consulting business. Additionally, what can you realistically deliver? Determine how you will deliver your services. This could be through email, phone calls, or in-person meetings.

Determining your rates

So how much should you charge for your services as a consultant? Aim to price your services high enough to make a profit but low enough to remain competitive. Research what other independent consultants in your niche are charging and use that as a starting point when determining your pricing structure.

Creating a pricing structure that aligns with your goals

Consider your short-term and long-term goals when creating a pricing structure. Setting hourly rates may be more appropriate for short-term engagements. Meanwhile, project-based pricing may work better for larger and more complex projects. You can also consider offering retainer services or customized packages tailored to your client's needs. Make sure your pricing structure aligns with your goals and delivers value to your clients.

Finding clients

Once you have defined your services and rates, the next step in starting your consulting company on the side is to find clients. Below are some effective strategies.

Leveraging your network

You can find potential clients by leveraging your existing network. Reach out to your friends, family, former colleagues, and acquaintances. Then let them know about your consulting gig and services. You may be surprised at how many of them could use your help or know someone who does.

Cold emailing and calling

If you don't have a strong network or need to expand your reach, consider cold emailing or calling potential clients. Do some research to find companies or individuals in your target market who could benefit from your services, and craft a compelling email or script to introduce yourself and your business.

Building a referral system

Referrals are a powerful way to build your client base. Offer your existing clients an incentive to refer new business to you, such as a discount on their next project or a cash reward. Make it easy for them to refer others by providing them with marketing materials they can share.

Marketing strategies that work

There are many marketing strategies you can use to attract clients. Some of these include content marketing, search engine optimization, and social media marketing. Experiment with different digital marketing strategies. Then figure out which ones work best for you and your business.

Balancing your side business with your full-time job

Starting a consulting business on the side can be an exciting experience. But it can be challenging to balance it with your day job. Here are some tips for balancing your side business with your regular job.

Setting realistic expectations

Set realistic expectations for both your consulting business and your day job. Don't expect to achieve quick success with your side business, especially when starting. Be realistic about the time and effort it takes to be a successful consultant. Also, understand that your day job takes priority. You may not always have as much time as you would like to work on your business.

Managing time 

Effective time management is crucial when balancing your side business with your day job. Start by creating a schedule that outlines your work hours, consulting hours, and personal time. You can also use time management tools such as Trello, Asana, or Todoist, which help keep track of your tasks and deadlines. Prioritizing your most important tasks and delegating where possible can help you manage your time more effectively.

Managing stress

Starting a consulting business on the side can be challenging and stressful. But it's important to manage your stress levels to avoid burnout. So take time for yourself. Relax and recharge by exercising. You can also spend time with friends or family or enjoy a hobby. Moreover, don't neglect your health. Being healthy is crucial to your success in both your day job and your consulting business.

Staying productive

Staying productive is key to balancing your side business with your day job. Here are some tips to help you stay focused. 

  • Create to-do lists. Make sure to prioritize your tasks.
  • Avoid distractions by turning off notifications on your phone and email.
  • Utilize your peak productivity times to complete your most important tasks.
  • Stay organized by keeping your workspace tidy.
  • Take breaks when needed to avoid burnout.

With these tips, you can balance your side business and your day job while achieving success in both areas. Remember to stay focused and manage your time effectively, while still taking care of yourself to avoid burnout. 

Build a solid online presence for your own business

When you’re just starting out with your consultancy, it’s vital to create an online presence to expand your reach and build a solid client base. Much like you're an expert offering services based on your experience, you need an expert web design team to help launch your site.  

With B12, you can build a quality website that showcases your consultancy offerings, even if you have no experience. A professional website delivers a top-notch user experience, ensuring you attract and retain clients with all of the built-in tools you need to do business, like online scheduling, payments, eSignatures, and more. Get started launching your site today in 30 days or less. Start by seeing a preview in 60 seconds for free.

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