Running a consulting business is a lot like trying to improve yourself. You need a detailed plan to give yourself the best chance of success. A company without a business plan is like a client without program.
Writing Your Business Overview and Mission Statement
Your business overview should include your business name, location or principal place of business (this can be your home address if you do not have a brick and mortar), target market, and ownership structure. Will you be operating as an S Corp, LLC, or Sole Proprietorship?
This section should also outline the facilities you’re operating in, the equipment you’ll use and your business’s unique selling points (USPs).
Your mission statement is two to three sentences explaining what your business aims to do, and why. Clarifying why you do what you do is essential, and starts with your core values and your consulting philosophy.
If you are unsure, your core values are your personal beliefs — who you are, and what you stand for, and your consulting philosophy is what you believe about consulting and its importance.
You might start by answering why consulting people and other businesses is important to you? Why is the niche or target market you work with important? What do you believe is most important about personal success, and health and wellness?
Assess the Industry and Your Competition
Before you can figure out where you fit in in the industry, you first need to know what that industry looks like. That takes research into the local and national markets. Your market analysis should outline what your client’s goals and needs are and how these are being met.
Grab your laptop and start researching local consulting programs and specialists. Take note of what is working well and what is missing. Then, figure out how your consulting business will fit into this community.
An honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses will help. Where do you fit in locally and nationally? What gaps do you fill? What can you offer that no one else in those markets provides?
How Will You Make Money and Spend Money?
The products and services section of your consulting business plan should provide a brief description of what you’re offering and why.
How are you Planning to Deliver Your Services?
You can consult clients one-on-one or you can offer large scale consulting businesses.
In addition, you can seek out alternative (and frequently very lucrative career opportunities) as a blogger, writer, podcast host, author, online content provider, online video host or publisher of digital consulting products. You can also offer your services online to individuals, small groups, or large groups.
In the beginning, you might consider focusing on one or two sources of income and see how they work out before adding additional revenue streams. Some of the most successful businesses in the world offer only one or two products or services.
Determining Your Operating Costs
Next, you will want to tackle your expenses. Jot down all the expenses you need to run your business: rent, equipment, insurance, software, business license, and any administrative fees.
When you add that up you will have your operating costs, which is the minimum income your business needs to exist. Always keep in mind that some percentage of that income will go to your business taxes.
Create A Killer Marketing Plan
No matter how long you have been in business or how successful your consulting business is, if you stop marketing your services, you will very quickly see the effects of lost profits and sales. In virtually every area of business, there will be pitfalls along the way. Marketing is no exception. By knowing how to market, you will save energy and disappointment.
Find Your Niche
Your niche should be specific and narrow. Although it will limit the number of your potential customers, this 1% uniqueness factor will help you to become the obvious choice for everyone in the industry.
Determine Your Unique Selling Proposition
Find something that makes you and your services unique. Perhaps the products you are working with? Or the flexibility of your schedule? By identifying your unique selling proposition, you will be more confident in promoting your services. Share your story, don’t be just a consulting expert – be a person that will attract customers in the first place.
Choose Your Promotional Strategies
The key here is to understand where your clients are, i.e. where do they go, what they read and watch, etc. Your decision to invest in a specific channel will also depend on your resources. But there are some more or less universal promotional methods that you can use: social media, partnerships, and referrals.
Determining Your Level of Risk
Too many coaches are overly optimistic and write up business plans that assume their business will always be booming. When you are first starting out, your risk tolerance is likely high, because you have less to lose, but as your business grows, and you have more people who depend on you (employees, family, children) the decisions will be harder, and you are much less willing to take on larger risks.
Ask yourself, “How much risk can I tolerate?” Seek feedback from a mentor or someone whose business advice you value. They can give you a much-needed perspective on the realities of running a business in our unpredictable world.
Once you’ve got this information down on paper, your business plan is good to go and you can focus on attracting your first clients.
Thanks for reading!
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