8 Steps to Start a Consulting Business That Earns $80,000+ Per Year

woman consulting another woman online

Dear Dreamer,

Are you looking for legitimate ways to make extra money? I was in your exact shoes 10 years ago and have found some amazing side hustles and income streams along the way. My goal is to help you find the best opportunities that fit your lifestyle.

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Ready to pave your own way and work from home? If so, then you’re in the right place to learn how to start a consulting business that earns $80,000+ per year from home!

Did you know that no matter what business you decide to start, you’re typically going to follow similar steps each time? In other words, if you’ve started a small business in the past, you hold the knowledge and expertise it takes to start a consulting business. And even if you haven’t started your first business, it’s not difficult to get started.

I’ve been running a successful small business since 2015 and get excited every time someone shares a desire to start a business. If that someone is you, let me help you. I would love to see you succeed and help you avoid the pitfalls that many new business owners fall into.

Let’s talk about the pitfalls to avoid and go over the exact steps you can take to start a consulting business that makes good money from home!

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Consulting Business Introduction and FAQs

It’s important to know a few things about the trade before you become a consulting business.

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How to Avoid New Business Failure / Pitfalls?

I know it sounds cliche, but if you don’t “believe in yourself” then your business will most likely fail before you earn much money.

Knowing that you can and will succeed in your consulting business is the first prerequisite to starting your business. Avoid self-doubt and work past your fears from day one and you will already be headed in the right direction.

The second prerequisite is that you must be comfortable in at least one area of expertise (I’ll list some examples in step 1 below). Even if you have never formally consulted a business or individual in a subject matter, you still need to be able to prove your skills. Proof can be in your education, previous work history, or samples in a portfolio.

But beyond that, you must choose a niche you enjoy. If you select an area of expertise that doesn’t interest you or you’re not passionate about, then you could run out of stamina before earning enough money to take your business full time.

How Much Money Do Consulting Businesses Earn?

According to Glassdoor, entry-level consultants earn an average yearly salary of $81,176 (as of 2018). A marketing consultant averages $50,897 and a small business consultant averages $88,395 per year.

Though income varies based on location and demand, starting an online consulting business is what allows you to reach clients in higher income areas. As you grow your business and your client base, your business’ income will also increase.

Related: 25 Best Stay at Home Mom Jobs

Starting A Consulting Business With No Experience

Before we get started walking through the steps to start your own consulting business, it’s important to squelch your fears of getting started. Even if you do not have experience starting a business, you can still be successful in consulting.

How do I know this? Because in 2015 I started a web design and freelance business and grew it to $50,000 in revenue by my 3rd full year in business. I did not have previous experience in web design, nor had I ever officially started a home business (though I had researched and dabbled over previous years).

Related: How to Make $3,000 Fast

Starting A Consulting Business Checklist

Here is what you’ll learn today as I guide you through my starting a consulting business checklist:

  1. Choose an area of expertise to focus your consulting services.
  2. Set up a consulting website of your own to showcase your services and expertise.
  3. Start a Facebook page to market your services.
  4. List your services to gain attention and experience.
  5. Establish your consulting prices and terms of service.
  6. Draft a sample contract for your future clients.
  7. Promote your consulting services.
  8. Service your first client.

Related: How to Become a Virtual Marketing Coordinator

8 Steps To Start A Consulting Business

Now that you know what it takes to start a consulting business, you’re ready to walk through the 8 steps that will prepare you for your first client.

Keep in mind that it’s entirely possible to start a consulting business on the side while working full time. Simply schedule your clients around your free time until you’re ready to quit your 9-to-5 and start consulting full time.

Let’s get your consulting business started!

1. Choose an Area of Expertise to Focus Your Consulting Services

Choosing your niche, or main focus, for your consulting services shouldn’t be too difficult. Though don’t overthink it either! There are no rules that say you cannot add new areas to your consulting services list down the road.

As noted above, you need to understand and enjoy your niche in order to be the most successful.

A few popular types of consultants are as follows:

  1. Design consultant
  2. Financial consultant
  3. Business consultant
  4. Social media consultant
  5. Marketing consultant
  6. Sales consultant
  7. SEO consultant
  8. Weight loss consultant
  9. Health consultant
  10. Beauty consultant
  11. Parenting consultant
  12. Personal consultant
  13. Staffing consultant
  14. Wedding consultant
  15. Lactation consultant
  16. Educational consultant

*Note: some niches may require certification or specific education. Please be sure to research the requirements before moving forward in your niche of choice.

2. Set up A Consulting Website of Your Own to Showcase Your Services and Expertise

After selecting your area of expertise, it’s time to get your business set up online. You can do this one of two ways:

  1. Start a consulting blog. If you intend to gain clients with content marketing (recommended), then you will want to start a niche blog about your topic of expertise. Write anything and everything about the questions in your niche that people are asking, and they will find you!
  2. Set a business website. If you intend to solely market your services on social media and other marketing platforms instead of with content marketing, then you can create a website for this purpose.

To further explain the difference between starting a blog versus a website, keep in mind that both are similar in face value. Ultimately, your intention is to send targeted traffic to your website or blog and boldly display your services.

By adding fresh content to a blog, traffic is more likely to come to you, whereas a static portfolio or website will need a push from outside sources to get traffic to see your services.

Either option is acceptable. But keep in mind that over time, a blog will cost less money and bring more organic (free) traffic.

3. Start a Facebook Page to Market Your Services

As you set up your consulting services website, you can simultaneously create a Facebook page to share your content and services. It’s well known that helpful and interesting content is likely to be shared far more than a static business services page. Keep that in mind when deciding between a blog or a portfolio website for your consulting business.

Setting up a Facebook page is easy. Simply follow Facebook’s step-by-step tutorial and fill in as much information about your consulting business as possible.

You can also consider starting a Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram account for your consulting business, but I highly recommend focussing on one platform first. If you focus on too many areas in the beginning, then you may lose focus on what’s most important.

Relate: How to Become a Content Creator

4. List Your Services to Gain Attention and Experience

When you’re first starting out, it’s typically much quicker to list your consulting services in multiple areas in order to gain more exposure. For example, if you simply list your services on a website and then sit back waiting for customers to flock in, it’s not going to happen.

Finding clients that need your specific services requires proactive engagement and marketing. If you list your services on a middleman platform while getting your business started, it could help you find work sooner.

Some options to consider:

Your ultimate goal is to contract work with clients directly since platforms like these take a hefty percentage of your earnings received through them.

5. Establish Your Consulting Prices and Terms of Service

Typically you will not be able to charge top dollar for your services from day one – but that largely depends on your previous experience, education and portfolio. Research prices in your niche and keep running list of charges for each service you plan to offer.

To this day I still “clock-in” when I start working for a client. For example, if I start working at 2 pm and end at 4 pm, I note that! This way I can keep track of what I earn per hour at the end of each project. By the time I complete a few similar projects, I know exactly what I need to charge the next client in order to make earn the right amount of money.

As for your terms of service, you may want to consult a legal representative or research heavily in your niche what others offer. People don’t typically visit your website to read your policies and terms of services, but you’ll want to make sure they are there to cover yourself legally! I can’t give advice here other than to say that it’s important to have these in place before working with a client.

6. Draft a Sample Contract for Your Future Clients

Similar to step 5, you’ll need to have drafted contract in place to send to each potential client. Your contract will outline your services, pricing, estimated date of completion and will state something similar to “all other services cost an additional fee.”

When working with new clients in your consulting business, you don’t want them to know beforehand exactly what they are paying for. This is another area that you could consult a legal adviser in your niche if you are not comfortable creating your own contracts.

Related: How to Become a Photo Editor

7. Promote Your Consulting Services

Is your website ready, pricing set and legal issues resolved? If so, you’re ready to start promoting your consulting business! This is where your new Facebook page will come in helpful. Share your content on Facebook, ask friends and family to share and even work with Facebook Ads to reach a larger audience.

You can also contact your local newspaper, add professional listings to Craigslist or partner with affiliates in your network to promote your services for a commission.

At this point, your goal is to build brand awareness and associate yourself with your business in a professional manner. In time, your name and business will be known for the services you provide.

8. Service Your First Client

When your first potential client contacts you for information about your services, be ready! Have each step thoroughly completed so that you will look like a pro from day one.

You’ll want to avoid telling your client he/she is the first. It’s important to conduct yourself professionally from the start since you have the knowledge and expertise to back up your consulting business.

Related: How To Get Clients For A New Business [Strategies That Work]

Ready to Start a Consulting Business?

If you’ve read this far and you feel good about completing each step, then you’re ready to start your consulting business! Now it’s time to return to step 1 and do everything suggested from A to Z.

Feel free to ask questions in the comments. I’m happy to answer everything I am able or point you to a reputable source that further explains how to start a consulting business!

Not sure consulting is right for you? Check out these other home based business ideas.

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