Have you ever worked with a friend or co-worker to provide an unbiased perspective on an issue? If you have, consulting business ideas with them.
If you are passionate about helping others succeed by providing niche experience that has been honed by years of education, experience, and skill development, professional consulting business ideas may be for you. We’ve compiled this guide to delve into the wild and lucrative world of consulting.
- What are consulting Business Ideas?
- Types of Consulting
- How to Start a Consulting Business
What Are Consulting Business Ideas?
Consulting business ideas is the process of providing expert advice, opinion, and/or strategies for a fee. Consultants, whether individual or company-based, specialize in a niche industry or trade.
Let’s fine-tune one aspect of the above definition: expert. Consultants are experts in their field. They possess such valuable knowledge that another person—an individual, department, or entire organization—is willing to pay for it.
However, consulting is much more than giving advice. According to this HBR article, consulting can include a wide range of activities, including problem diagnosis, data collection, feedback, strategy creation, and implementation.
Consultants’ businesses are highly sought after because they can bring a unique and fresh perspective to a pressing business problem or challenge. Sometimes, business owners and leaders need a new set of eyes when addressing an issue; as a consultant, you can provide that unbiased perspective.
Consultants simply work to make their clients more successful. This can take a lot of work, which is why the consulting business ideas are so lucrative. There are more than 700,000 active consulting companies worldwide. Consulting is a busy and booming industry, and it continues to grow.
If you opened your own consulting practice, where would you be? While all of these parties work with companies (as opposed to being employed by them), that’s about where their similarities end.
- Contractors (and freelancers) are self-employed workers hired by companies to provide services.
- Consultants, as defined above, mainly provide expert assessment and advice. They can be self-employed or employed by a consulting company.
However, if, as a consultant, you were asked to provide a service or deliverable, you could be hired for a contractor-type role.
For example, suppose you were hired to evaluate the performance of a sales team. After the initial evaluation, recommend a new sales strategy and training plan. If you were then asked to develop and deliver this written strategy and training plan, you would be considered a contractor (in addition to a consultant).
Consultants exist in virtually every field. Let’s Now discuss the different types of consulting.
Types Of Consulting
Consulting business ideas can refer to a variety of specialists and industries. In this section, we’re going to unpack nine common types of consulting practices, any relevant niche opportunities found within them, and what your career in these respective trades may look like.
- Management Consulting
- IT Consulting
- Business Consulting
- Sales Consulting
- Marketing Consulting
- Environmental Consulting
- Financial Consulting
- Professional Consulting
- Healthcare Consulting
1. Management Consulting
Firms such as McKinsey, Bain & Company, and Deloitte work primarily in management consulting. It’s a $260 billion industry, at least, where it is as of 2019.
As a management consultant, you would work with business leaders to help their businesses run smoothly. This usually involves evaluating certain processes and providing advice on how to improve or implement new ones.
Not all management consultants are created equal: some follow a generalist approach and evaluate each organization as a whole, and some specialize in more specific departments or fields, such as the four below.
While strategy consultants work primarily with the “why,” operations consulting addresses the “how.” These consultants address operational processes, including procurement, outsourcing, supply chain management, and more. In addition, operations consultants often do more for companies than give advice, sometimes they also offer implementation and implementation services to help clients put their new processes to work.
Financial Strategy Consulting
Financial consultants, or advisors, help companies make informed, objective, and legal financial decisions to improve performance. This management consulting sector works in corporate finance, financial restructuring, risk management, and even real estate.
Human Resources Consulting
The purpose of human resources (HR) consulting is to help companies hire and retain notable employees. HR consultants also ensure that companies follow legal and ethical staff practices.
2. IT Consulting
Information technology (IT) consultants implement and manage new technologies, as an IT consultant, you can help companies figure out what software to invest in and how to use it to meet goals, solve challenges, and implement major changes. This consulting division is a highly specialized and lucrative industry, worth nearly double the management consulting industry: $484 billion.
3. Business Consulting
Business consulting is a broad term that refers to specialists who work with companies on anything from financial advice to training and massage. (You’ll see that this category overlaps with others in this list.) As a business consultant, you would typically work with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), unlike management consulting, where you would work with enterprise-level companies, to objectively assess challenges and provide solutions.
4. Sales Consulting
I would normally work in sales training and development, but it could also be incorporated for other purposes, such as choosing a CRM, improving the sales process, or boosting team morale. Because sales are considered one of the most important parts of a business, financially speaking, quality sales consultants are highly valued and sought after.
5. Marketing Consulting
The purpose of marketing consulting is to evaluate a company’s marketing efforts and provide guidance on how to improve to achieve goals and generate revenue. Or, you can focus on a niche marketing process, such as defining target audiences, customer acquisition, or brand recognition.
6. Environmental Consulting
Are you passionate about environmental laws and regulations? Environmental consulting may be for you. These consultants advise companies on how their practices affect the environment around them and often work with industries such as construction, waste management, real estate, and energy (but can be hired by any type of company).
7. Financial Consulting
Financial consulting overlaps a bit with the financial strategy consulting we discussed earlier. The main difference, however, is that this category also includes independent financial consultants who work with individuals, families, and entrepreneurs. As a financial consultant, you can help with everything from day-to-day expenses, investments, and taxes to cash flow issues, insurance, and financial legalities.
8. Professional consulting
Both individuals and companies use professional consulting to equip themselves or their employees to grow in their jobs. As a career consultant, you can help clients with skills development, resume creation, job applications, interviews, and understanding the job market as a whole. If you have experience in Human RESOURCES or recruitment, career consulting may be for you.
9. Health consulting
Health consultants are basically management consultants working in the healthcare industry. They analyze an organization’s people, benefits, and processes and provide advice on how to improve and solve pressing challenges.
How To Start A Consulting Business
Are you specialized in a certain niche field or industry and do you think you could offer quality advice to others? You can consider opening your own consulting business. Here are seven steps to take to start a consulting business that will help you and your clients succeed.
- Evaluate Your Skills And Strengths To Choose Your Niche.
- Analyze Your Market Needs And Weaknesses.
- Develop Your Brand, Website, And Service Offerings.
- Open Your Business.
- Market Your Business To Attract New Customers.
- Stay Organized And Scale.
1. Evaluate Your Skills And Strengths To Choose Your Niche.
Before you do anything else, brainstorm and define what skills and strengths you think would make you a good consultant. Their knowledge is so valued that they are paid to share it. In addition, good consultants are not experts in everything.
What makes you an expert? What do you like to do and talk about? If you had to stand in front of a classroom and teach on any topic, what would that be? What do your friends, family, and co-workers ask you about? These are just a few questions to ask yourself to start thinking about what skills and strengths a consultant would make you. Write down your answer before moving forward.
If I were answering for myself, I would say I’m an expert in writing and content marketing (as much as one could be an expert at 25). I have worked in this field throughout my career and love creating content and helping others do the same.
2. Analyze Your Market Needs And Weaknesses.
Once you establish your consulting niche, you need to have a better idea of which industry and market you will be targeting.
Identifying your market as a consultant allows you to understand the needs, challenges, and pain points your potential customers face, which can help clarify how you can use your skills to provide solutions.
For example, let’s say my target audience as a content marketing consultant often struggles with creating consistent content, SEO, and tracking published content. Defining these factors allows me to know precisely how I can help my clients (e.g., with writing, SEO, and metrics) rather than simply saying, “Hey, I can help you with words!”
From the very moment you specialize in a certain skill set as a consultant, you also need to specify what services you provide to your clients. This information can also help you better market to customers, which we’ll talk about below.
3. Develop Your Brand, Website, And Service Offerings.
The next step to getting started as a consultant is to create the external components of your business. This includes your website, brand, and service offerings. These resources can help customers identify you and can help your business stand out from competitors.
Whether you identify your business with your name (e.g., Allie Decker LLC) or another name (e.g., Content Marketing Consulting LLC), you need to give it an official name and website to boot.
Whether you organize your services into clear packages and pricing or simply list your services and ask customers to call you for more information.
You know what your skills are, how your skills can help others, and how potential customers can discover and learn more about you, it’s time to open your business.
First, consider the legal structure of your business. Legitimizing your business gives you credibility and direction when it comes to taxes, personnel, and other legal details.
Next, think about what tools you may need to conduct business and connect with customers. These can include tools to help find new clients and jobs, such as a LinkedIn membership, and video conferencing software like Zoom or Skype. At this stage, you should also open a business bank account, invest in an accountant (and eventually an assistant), and order business cards with your brand and information.
5. Market Your Business To Attract New Customers.
A consulting business is not a business without customers. Selling your consulting services is not like selling a car, a house, or software. Who are not even aware that they need them.
You Can Market Your Business In A Wide Variety Of Ways:
- Talk And teach
- Social Media Marketing
- Cold calls And Email
Regardless of how you market your consulting business, choose methods that will put you in direct contact with your potential customers. Methods like blogging and social media marketing don’t necessarily draw a direct line to new revenue, but they are powerful for raising awareness and establishing experience. A healthy combination of direct marketing and awareness marketing will help your consulting business succeed.
Once you get in front of potential customers, have an elevator pitch set and a ready-to-use customer proposal template. Half of the consulting “battle” is providing advice; the other half is selling their advice in the first place.
6. Stay Organized And Scale.
High-quality results are the best way to prompt referrals from past customers, and referrals can be your best source of new sales.
Look at their customer list, software tools, and other business practices; analyze what is working and what is not. Understand where you can reduce the extra effort and resources to ultimately save money. Finally, subscribe to industry trends so you can keep your business relevant to the challenges and trends your customers are facing.
Start checking today consulting business Ideas can be a fascinating and lucrative career, but it’s also a mindset. Successful consulting firms start with an individual or team of expert experts who are passionate about helping others. Regardless of how big your company grows or how long you get your customer list, keep your passion and expertise focused and you’ll always find success, both for you and your customers.