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How to Start a Consulting Business on the Side

How to Start a Consulting Business on the Side is displayed next to a laptop running crm software.
November 02, 2021
CRM Advisor

If you’ve been considering a career change or want to earn some extra income, you may be wondering how to start a consulting business on the side.

In this post, we’ll answer all of your questions about how to start a consulting business while still working at your full-time job. We’ll explain the best strategies for marketing, setting rates, and more.

So, if you’re looking to start a successful side hustle, keep reading!

Choose Your Consulting Service

A successful consulting business is built on the premise of solving someone’s problem. So before you register your business, set up your home office, and order business cards, you need to determine what services you can offer.

When it comes to consulting, the possibilities are endless. Do you have insider knowledge about immigration law in your country? Are you an expert coder with time to spare? Do you have a background in business management and want to help small businesses grow? Do you have decades of experience in human resources and want to help companies solve their high attrition rates? If the consulting world is calling to you, you probably know your area of expertise.

Whatever service you choose, it doesn’t necessarily have to be associated with your current full-time job. The more detailed you can get about the exact consulting services you can offer, the more easily you can build your brand, find your target audience, and set your rates.

Decide Your Rates

Do your research to find out how much the average consultant makes on a full-time basis offering the same or similar services with the same level of experience that you have. As a freelance business owner, you won’t receive the same benefits as a salaried employer, so you may want to charge extra to compensate.

Whatever you do, don’t low-ball yourself to get more clients. Your perceived value may be diminished, and you may only end up with clients that ask a lot and pay a little. Don’t sell yourself short, and you’ll eventually find your first client that sees your worth.

Build Your Brand & Network

You may have a head start if the consulting services you’re offering are similar to your day job. While we don’t recommend snatching clients away from your employer (in fact, you might get into a whole heap of legal trouble if you do), you can use your connections to spread the word about your services and get your name out there to people in your industry.

Here are the basic steps for building a name for yourself:

  1. Create your website. Ensure your site is professional and designed with industry standards in mind. Infuse your content with keywords and a strong value proposition, and be sure to make your services clear and concise. Add a strong call to action to encourage potential clients to get in touch with you.
    1. Show, don’t tell. You’ll have a higher chance of landing your first client if you can prove your worth rather than just saying how great you are. Prepare case studies, and offer educational content like white papers, blog posts, and guides.
  2. Build your profile. LinkedIn is perhaps the most important social media networking site for your new consulting business. This is where you can highlight your services, grow your network, and post content that gives your brand value. Engagement is also an important factor in successful networking. Don’t forget to get involved in conversations with other consultants and prospective clients.
  3. Increase your outreach with LinkedIn ads. If you’re just starting out on your own, you need a little extra help getting your name out there. LinkedIn ads are a great way to attract potential clients to your site’s landing page and build your subscriber list. 
  4. Tell everyone. When it comes to building up your small business, a little bit of word of mouth can go a long way. LinkedIn outreach isn’t the only way to get your name out there. Tell friends, family, old co-workers, and classmates about your new consulting business. You never know where your first client will come from.   

Last, But Not Least: Organize Yourself

If you’re consistent with these guidelines, you should land your first client in no time. As your side hustle, you’ll only have a limited amount of time to organize your business as it grows. We highly recommend staying on top of your clients from the beginning, so that when your client list starts to grow, you’ll be able to manage your pipeline without any issues.

It’s not just keeping track of your clients you need to think about (and if you use a CRM for consulting firms, you’ll be able to manage your clients and projects all in one place), but you also need to think about registering your business, learning about your taxes, setting up your office, and taking care of various responsibilities involved with running your own company.

Keep repeating these steps to start building your client list and grow your successful freelance consulting business.