How To Start A Consulting Business For Free?
With new technologies coming out every day, it can be confusing for new or already established businesses. That’s where you can come in with your expertise (or not) and assist them.
It’s quite common for individuals to want to start a consulting business. The problem is? They don’t take action. After reading this article you should feel competent to take action like the other 0.1% of people did. I myself have always been interested in starting a consulting business, but I didn’t know where to start. So, that’s why I’ve researched the answers to all of the common questions and barriers people end up facing that holds them back. Keep reading to figure out how to start a consulting business for free.
Consulting is a very general term that can relate to essentially any type of business or work. If you have the desire to find the answer to how to start a consulting business for free but don’t know what to consult about, here are some suggestions. Don’t worry if you don’t feel like an expert on anything. The thing is, you don’t need to be an expert. All you need to have is enough knowledge over your potential clients to provide them value.
Consulting Service Business Ideas I Can Learn Easily
There are a lot of businesses out there that can’t afford to hire out for all of their graphic design needs. So, they end up doing it themselves but often face issues.
There are plenty of great free graphic design tools and programs you can use for free. Canva.com is an amazing website where you can create some seriously powerful graphics. Most people jump on the platform and end up creating images they’re not proud of.
That’s why you’re going to take some time to learn about how to use these free programs to their true potential. There are tons of free guides on YouTube on how to use Canva or other tools effectively. Then, you can take that knowledge and pass it onto your clients for a cost.
Another great free graphic design tool you can use are https://www.photopea.com/ which is a simpler web-based version of photoshop. It’s still very powerful and you can easily learn how to create stunning images.
Marketing is one of the most common skills entrepreneurs and small business owners are usually interested in learning.
Some keys to marketing are creating valuable content, search engine optimization, social proof, and interacting with your target audience on social media.
Creating valuable content may seem overwhelming at first. Just explain to your client that they need to find non-competitive long-tail keywords to use in their blog posts. You can explain to them how to use free tools online like answerthepublic.com and MozBar.
Search engine optimization is often way overcomplicated. You can start with the basics of achieving a green smiley face for both SEO categories under the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress. Then, teach your client how to write inviting emails to other people in their industry to potentially write for their blog and link back to your blog. This will create backlinks to your blog which will really help drive organic traffic in the long run.
Getting social proof is simply having a big following on social media that you interact with as well. The trick is to post a few times a day with different content. Start conversations with their target audience, reshare popular articles of other people, post their own quality articles, and they can throw in some inspirational posts too.
Every business needs a website but a lot of them still don’t have one or need improvement. That’s where you come in.
WordPress is an amazing platform to learn about and then teach to your clients. There are plenty of amazing tutorials on YouTube on how to set up really eye-catching websites.
However, you want to know how without having to go anywhere. Stay tuned to later in this how to start a consulting business for a free guide to know how to set up your own website which you can also use those learned skills for potential clients.
There are endless possibilities you can consult on. Those are just some quick suggestions. If you need some more ideas, here’s a basic list:
- Public Relations
- Wedding Planning
- Real Estate
- Project Management
- Wealth Management
You don’t need to have a degree to start a consulting business either. Not to mention the use of pie charts and massive amounts of data. All you need to do is meet these simple guidelines:
Do something that improves the standing of your target industry
Offer an amazing customer experience so your customers feel like family. Go over and above their expectations and you’ll start getting increased business from word of mouth. It’s important to create an experience for your customers versus just being polite. That way they feel one with you and your company like they’re part of something bigger.
Pay good attention to your cash flow. Cash flow is one of the most important things to pay attention to within your business. Companies turn belly up because they run out of funds due to going after invoices and stretching themselves too thin with all the costs related to running a business.
This guide is how to start a consulting business for free, but in the future, you’ll eventually add on more costs as your company grows.
Next, you’ll want to choose a domain for your website. Don’t overthink this, try and keep it simple and under 16 characters if you can. AppConsulting.com could be an example for consulting app developers on how to best run their business.
Now, while I do recommend WordPress, this post is how to start a consulting business for free. So, because of that, we’ll be going with wix.com.
Wix is a very reputable platform that has been around for a while. It’s just become more popular these recent years due to people realizing it’s true power.
First, you’ll want to sign up and choose what type of website you want to create. Go with whatever design you feel best represents your line of advice-giving. Most templates are good choices, so go with what you like.
Next, customize the template to look modern and clean. You want to seem as professional as possible so having a nice looking website is important.
Designing the website is quite easy. It’s all drag and drop. Simply drag and drop the options you want on your website.
Make sure to choose appropriate colors for your website. Hubspot has a great post on color psychology and how it relates to business.
Driving traffic to your website and getting clients
I’m going to take a minute here and explain why I think you should invest a small amount into a website versus trying to do all of this for free.
WordPress is a very powerful platform, eventually, you’ll likely want to switch over to it anyways. It comes with an infinite amount of customizability, plugins, themes, tools and so on. It’s much easier to do search engine optimization on a platform like WordPress.
It’s not too hard to learn either. Just take your time in going through the menus and you should figure it out. Again, check out YouTube for some easy, free, and awesome tutorials.
If you do decide to take my advice, check out Hostinger. They are the cheapest option on the internet that doesn’t sacrifice quality. The speeds they offer are very fast and industry standard. They also offer top of the line customer service which respond very promptly. The customer service reps are very knowledgeable and polite as well.
Another thing I love about Hostinger is their website is very easy to navigate. Choosing the best web hosting option which is a much better deal than blue host or host gator you see recommended all over the web.
Setting your prices and moving forward
Go with slightly below the average of the general cost newbie consulting companies charge in your chosen industry. You want to be cheaper than your competition to be an easy choice for your clients.
Don’t go too cheap though! The last thing you want to do is have rock bottom prices. This is a red flag to most companies and you’ll end up getting less business.
Remember to raise your prices to a suitable price after you’ve picked up some experience and testimonials.
Create your elevator pitch to promote to clients via calls, instant messaging, emailing, or social media.
Compile a list of companies in your niche you want to market too. Write down the important names, email addresses, phone numbers, and social media handles.
Now it’s time to blast out your pitch to hundreds of companies. The trick here is quantity. All you’re hoping to happen is for 1 company to convert to a sale. From there you can very likely get some free testimonials and get used to the process of selling and dealing with your clients.
Don’t worry if you’re not an expert in selling. Selling comes with practice and doing the actual selling is the only way you’ll get better. Don’t feel defeated either if you feel you lost a sale due to you not communicating well enough. Remember, selling comes with practice.
Arrange an appointment with your client(s) over Skype or similar.
Another great way for you to get clients is through LinkedIn. Linkedin is a more professional platform, so you can expect to make lasting connections here. Think of Linkedin as an online resume and cover letter.
You’ll really want to take your time in setting up your Linked profile. Open up Word or get out a pen and paper and write down every single skill, job, experience, and so. If you have old or current resumes, use these to help build out your profile as well.
You basically want to create a story about yourself while showcasing everything you’ve done and hold in a professional sense since you started working.
Also, make sure to highlight that you’re offering consulting services in your chosen niche and that you’re available for hire. Back this up by writing a few short paragraphs on your knowledge and experience of the chosen industry.
It can also help if you get some certificates under your belt. Hop on over to udemy.com and look for the best courses related to the type of business you want to consult for. The courses are only $15 each but pack in hours of video learning usually with resources to fill out.
It’s important to understand your customer. The more you understand your customer, the better you’ll be able to serve them which will, in turn, lead to more future clients.
Additionally, it’s common to have slow days, especially in the beginning. Continue to pump out quality blog articles related to your chosen consulting niche to show you really have what it takes to add value to people’s companies.
Eventually, you’ll start to get picked up by Google and organic traffic will start to roll in. Don’t stop there, continue to write at least 1 quality article of at least 1200 words each week.
What can really make you stand above your competition is creating YouTube videos. They can be simple too. Just 3-5 minute videos on answering a common question in your industry. Be aware to not give away too much free information though. You want to give enough information to show you know what you’re talking about, but not the whole bread basket so your target market is still inclined to hire you.
Don’t spend a dime more than you need to until you see results
It’s too common for people not to get it right the first time. That’s why you shouldn’t put any money into marketing or hiring other workers until you start to consistently bring in income.
There’s nothing worse than you thinking you have everything all lined up then throw money into the equation only to see it go down the drain.
That’s why I wrote these next additional tips on how to start a consulting business for free.
Reach out to your past employers you had consulting contracts with
It’s usually the case for consultants to find success from one big reliable client. This usually ends up being your last employer. If you’re finding a hard time to seek out new clients, reach out to your past employers you had contracts with. This will greatly reduce the risk of finding a big client again to live off of.
Expect late payments
People often need a bank line of credit to keep afloat when employers pay late. And, sometimes it’s not possible to bug your clients because they’ve signed your invoices then handed them off to the accounts payable function in the client companies.
You have to realize you’re entering a business to business industry (B2B). This means when you hand over your invoices to your client, the client can take weeks or even months to pay.
Don’t harass your clients for immediate payment. What you can do though is find out who is in charge of paying you and ask when their regular payment schedule is.
Stay away from long legal paperwork
You’re never going to take your client to court so this does you no good. What you can do that makes both parties happy is offering a basic commitment write up. Also, if the client requires you to sign a contract, you should barter with important points in regards to intellectual property and the product of your work. Try to avoid this at all costs though.
Don’t drag out unfavorable situations
If your client is continuously putting on the pressure and complaining, don’t fire them. Instead, propose 3 to 4 times what you regularly charge for some follow-up work. If your client pays you extremely late, do not fight with them because you will not win. What you should do instead is find the root of the problem, work with your client and if they’re still difficult to deal with, then you can move on from them.
Start small to prove your expertise
It’s a great idea to complete a short term job for new clients to prove you’re worthy of consulting for them. After this, you’ll likely be hired for a longer-term contract.
This is similar to sitting down for some coffee or maybe some lunch with a client to get to know them before shaking hands. This gives you time to get to know your client and their needs as well.
Under-promise and over-deliver
It’s great when you don’t have the pressure of delivering a solution that’s well above your pay grade. What’s great though is when you do under-promise even below your own abilities. This gives room for error and when you’re on top of your game some room to over-deliver.
When your client receives 20% more success than you promised them, they will be very happy customers. If you continue to do this by keeping your skills up to date, the word will spread of your expertise and you’ll have an easy time landing future clients.
Doing this helps create a strong relationship with your clients which gives you security going into the future.
Don’t say sorry for being a 1 man show
If you work out of your home office, don’t pretend you’re from a big firm. Offer to have meetings in your clients’ offices or better yet over Skype so you can work with clients worldwide.
Surprisingly, a lot of clients prefer hiring a single consultant because they don’t have to pay for overhead. This also lets them have a 1 on 1 connection with you who actually does the work too and not just the person who’s selling to them.
Treat this position with a sense of professionalism
Make sure to treat this like you really are trying to be successful. Act in a way that shows you care about helping your client and not just trying to pay the bills while you’re in between jobs.
Having your own website will help this cause a lot. Also, spending $10 to get some basic business cards from VistaPrint is a sure-fire way to success. Whenever you’re out with friends, at events meeting new people, or at business seminars, you can hand out your business cards to help spread the word of your consulting business.
You can create digital business cards so that people can scan with a QR code.
Hopefully, this explained to you how to start a consulting business for free. If you enjoyed it and did in fact learn something, please share this article with your friends and family. I’m sure it will be a great read for them.