Let’s say you’re an expert in a field but got laid off from your job or you have skills but can’t find permanent work that pays enough. Now may be the time to become a self-employed consultant.
Consulting is a great way to own your own small business. I know because I am a consultant.
One to three person businesses are by far the largest category of small businesses in the UK. Whether they be consultants or solfoshops in your town there is alot of experience and expertise in these business.
As for the consultants there is a vast number of fields including health care, software, engineering, accounting, law, design and management consulting. Sometimes they provide only expertise and advice. Other times, they perform specific work that a client’s employees might otherwise do, usually projects. They typically set most of their working conditions – hours, location – provide their equipment and work without supervision.Consulting is a popular choice for entrepreneurs because it offers many advantages.
Generally, it’s a relatively easy and inexpensive way to start. With the exception of certain service businesses such as nursing or accounting that require special certification, equipment or advanced training, you can begin with just business cards and space on your dining room table.But if you want to make a good living as a consultant, you’ll have to do more than print business cards. The most successful contractors make it look easy, but don’t be misled when you see them leisurely drinking coffee at 11 a.m. at Starbucks. They were likely up late finishing a project ( my days can finish at 2am sometimes )or already may have attended a 7 a.m. networking group to drum up business. Most successful consultants approach their business as a business. They may be their company’s only employee, but that company still requires the same commitment, planning, financial management and marketing as any other venture. Its not a 9-5 but the rewards are better in the future as the business grows.
Once you’ve launched your consulting business, you have to become the company’s main salesperson. And the product you’re selling is you. That can be tough and uncomfortable. You have to learn to toot your own horn but do so in a way that doesn’t make you feel awkward – or put people off.
Some tips I have picked up:
• Compile a list of three to five benefits that you offer clients and practice saying them without awkwardness. Note that benefits are different from the actual products or services you provide.
Rather than saying, “I design book covers,” you could say, “I create compelling book designs that help you sell more copies than you otherwise would at a price that’s half of what you would pay if you did it in house.”
• When meeting with prospects, recount other successes even if you had them as an employee. Talk about what you’ve done for others, and you’ll effectively communicate what you can do for prospective clients.
• Get testimonials from previous clients and put them on your website and in other marketing material.
• Bring friends with you when you go to a networking event and allow them to brag about you to others instead of doing it yourself.
• Above all, don’t put down competitors. That makes you look petty. To be fair if a competitor is good and you are good too your better as a force together to force out the cowboys.
As a consultant, when your not “working for clients” you’ll be working for the business and with this time you will need to do your accounts, develop a letter of agreement or contract template to use with clients as well as market your services. You may want to have a lawyer help you develop or review this standard template. But my advice is don’t make it too intimidating to clients. If you work with large corporations, they’ll probably have their own contracts so you may have to sign thiers, so get it checked by your lawyer.
If you are creating your own agreement or contract needs to do the following:
• Spell out the nature of the work you will perform.
• Define exactly what work you will produce for the client.
• Lay out what will happen should the scope of the work change.
• Detail how much you’ll be paid and who will pay for any expenses.
• Specify how and when you’ll be paid and what happens if payment is not received in a timely fashion.
• Describe the terms under which the contract can be ended.
• Explicitly state who owns the rights to the work.
Consultants rarely have consistent recurring income, and that can be challenging. But the upsides of consulting are compelling if you’re willing to work hard and keep marketing. Why not join your local Chamber of Commerce. Our local chamber North and Western Lancashire has some really exciting events and has corss chamber meeting with surrounding chambers, which make it all the more worth it.