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    7 Replies Latest reply on Jan 14, 2008 4:12 PM by Lighthouse24

    Consulting Business Start Up

    sbconsultant Newbie

      I had a vision yesterday to start up my own consulting business for anyone interested in starting their own small business. I have some possible partners which are key to this business. A banker, an accountant, a lawyer, and a marketing major. What I'm looking for is some advice from anyone who has already started their own consulting business. If anyone has any tips or pointers I am looking forward to hearing them. Thank you!
        • Re: Consulting Business Start Up
          DomainDiva Ranger

          I quit my job to go to Europe for six months and when I returned home I had NO JOB. When I finally decided to consult friends were there with references. It took about 3 months to get my first gig...that was April of 1995...been going strong ever since.

          With the broad skill set you have in the group sit down together and start making lists and more lists of HOW your skills can be used...then market those skills.
          • Re: Consulting Business Start Up
            LUCKIEST Guide
            Sounds like you have a great team. A banker, an accountant, a lawyer, and a marketing major.
            Try SCORE. SCORE is a partner to Bank of America and provides FREE business assistance.
            You can visit a SCORE office and talk to a counselor or visit online.
            Good luck, LUCKIEST
            • Re: Consulting Business Start Up
              LUCKIEST Guide
              Maybe this will help, LUCKIEST
              h3. 6 Steps to Small Business Success

              1. Start Smart
              2. Plan Ahead
              3. Set up Systems
              4. Seek out Sales
              5. Aim for Growth
              6. Leverage Opportunities

               

               


              1. Start Smart.
              Identify a niche. Don't compete to be the lowest cost provider. Look
              for what makes your product or service unique and adds a special value
              for the client and charge for that value. Every business has many
              facets. Start with what you know and like; start a business that has
              meaning to you. Keep in mind that we don't know what the future holds,
              many of the jobs and businesses of tomorrow don't exist today. You can
              create your own success.

               


              Now is the time to dream. To start smart, you should like the idea of
              the business. The way to earn a good income and build wealth is by
              serving clients well, making their life better in some way-it's more
              than filling a need in the marketplace. To succeed you want to test the
              idea to make sure your potential clients like the idea too. Test your
              ideas.

              2. Plan Ahead.
              People often ask me why bother with a business plan? Look at the
              lottery as an example. You may get lucky and get the winning ticket,
              but the odds are against you when you rely on random chance. I'm a risk
              taker...but not that much, minimize the risk of going into business and
              maximize your potential for success. Take the time to write a plan of
              how you get from point A to point B. A plan gives you a clear future
              focus and increases your chances of success.

               


              The first rule of a start-up is put some of your own money in the
              business. As the owner you must be willing to capitalize the business.
              The second rule is put as little of your own money as possible in the
              business. Prepare your plan and look for funding for your business from
              multiple sources, which can include a business loan or business line of
              credit.

               


              Don't go it alone. Plan ahead now to build your team. Your team may
              include a CPA and an attorney that you work with as needed. Add a
              mentor from your industry and get a SCORE mentor to help you plan for
              success. No one has all the answers. You get more ideas and information
              by building a success, support team that can help you plan ahead.

              3. Set up Systems.
              The most basic system every business should have is a good financial
              system. Ask yourself how am I going to generate enough income to
              support myself and my family. Begin here. Put together a personal
              budget, so you know what it costs you to live. Now, you can move on to
              the business budget and sales planning, so you can see how many sales
              you need to break even and make a profit. The start-up expense plan,
              operating budget and your accounting software are vital to your
              success.

               

               

              4. Seek out Sales.
              The daunting question is how do you go about seeking out your first
              sale. Recognize that since you don't have a big ad budget to be seen by
              everyone, you need to target a niche and get connected in your market
              community, be it local, regional or national. You need other people
              selling for you-not employees-goodwill referrals. Get out and talk to
              as many people as you can. Join organizations that would have clients
              for your product or service. Become a visible part of your market, and
              then ask for the sale. You begin the sales process with people that you
              know. Yes, it's okay to start with friends and family as your first
              customers, and then broaden from there.

               

               

              5. Aim for Growth.
              The basic tenant of creating a company is that you own the company. You
              are not just creating a job for yourself. It's less risk and less
              investment to get a job. Building a business is creating a company that
              is more than the job itself. Think about the future. How large do you
              want the company to be in terms of sales, net profit and employees?
              Your answer to each of these questions will influence how you grow.
              There are varying costs and profits associated with growth. It's
              important to make a deliberate choice early about how you want to grow
              your company.

               


              6. Leverage Opportunities.
              Good luck. Good fortune. Good timing. All play a part in business. As a
              business owner, be very clear about your core focus for the business
              and how it serves clients. Your core business is what pays the bills.
              Then, as an entrepreneur you are about opportunity. When you see a
              potential opportunity or stroke of luck measure it against your core
              business focus. Good fortune is great, when it matches your vision for
              the business. Always consider if a good opportunity is the right fit
              for your business. If something looks great, but it's not in sync with
              your long-term plan and budget, think carefully before committing your
              company's resources.
              1 of 1 people found this helpful
              • Re: Consulting Business Start Up
                Lighthouse24 Ranger

                If you're planning to advise people who are going into business for themselves, I'd start by reading all the questions (not the responses, just the questions) in these forums. Is there a specific category in which you not only know all the answers, but you (yourself or your partners) have successfully implemented all the solutions you'd recommend to someone else? If so, establish that as a specialty.

                As you probably know, SCORE offers the services you're proposing, except for free. The only reason a client would come to you instead of them is if there was some aspect of start-up that you were WAY more competent at than the SCORE counselor, or if the start-up were a specific type of business (like a restaurant) that the counselor had no experience with (his background might be manufacturing, for instance). That would be your niche, and your competitive advantage.

                Most new/young consultants make the mistake of opening their practice as generalists, claiming to offer a broad array of skills and services to every type of client (which, as with any other profession, is generally interpreted by the marketplace as "he knows a little about everything, but not a lot about anything"). To be effective as a consultant, you have to have actually solved problems that the typical business owner or manager will probably never encounter in a lifetime -- and potential clients know it takes years to build that kind of experience and expertise. People almost never hire a professional consultant for anything "easy." If they could just read about it, or "wing it" and be okay, they would. So again, my suggestion is to focus on a specialty service or business type and begin there.

                Hope this helps. Best wishes.
                1 of 1 people found this helpful
                • Re: Consulting Business Start Up
                  sbconsultant Newbie
                  Thank you for the advice so far. It has made me think more in depth of what planning needs to be done. If there was a readiness scale for opening a business from 1-10 I would be at 0 right now. This was just an idea that came to me last week. I have not talked to any of the other people I mentioned on this forum. If we were to do this, it would be a leisure business to start. We wouldnt look at this business as a means to pay the bills and stop working where we are now. It would simply be a side business to start and then we would take it from there. It would be tough though to entice people to pay for our service when SCORE offers it for free. I think it would also be interesting going to SCORE and asking for advice on how to start a business that would pretty much be a copy of them.
                    • Re: Consulting Business Start Up
                      Lighthouse24 Ranger

                      I think you are being very realistic. By all means, don't give up on your vision -- invest the time to figure out how to make it a reality. I remember the day, hour, and minute I decided I wanted to open my own consulting firm. It took twelve years from then to get to a point where I thought I was ready to make the leap, and it took another eight years after that to build a sustainable independent practice (meaning one where I don't have to accept projects or clients I don't want just to pay the bills). That seems like a long time, but if you're learning first-hand how to make business clients successful, that expertise retains its value (unlike, say, website development, where half of the technical expertise associated with building a client website today will be obsolete in 18 months).

                      By the way, I would not give you a "0" on readiness. Recognizing you need to plan and having thought seriously about it is at least a "2". You also seem to write and communicate clearly, which gives you one valuable skill to start with. You probably have more. As I noted in my initial post, identify and build on your strengths as you plan. Best wishes.