The best part about running a consulting business is that you can use your expertise and still be your own boss. You don’t need to build up an employee list. You don’t need to worry about expanding. You work for yourself and take on work as necessary. You might outsource certain tasks, but for the most part, you can be your own boss and succeed at it, too.
Accountants can work on their own, working a few clients as their sole accountant. Business professionals can provide their expertise to struggling businesses as consultants. There are so many ways you can sell your skills to a few chosen clients and support yourself comfortably.
In order to do this, however, you need to build up several skills. Read on to find out more.
Advance Your Specialization
If you truly wish to manage a great consulting business, either for yourself or for a variety of professionals that you know, you need to advance your specializations. Accountants can go on to gain accreditation in forensic accounting or in corporate finance and accounting to expand their capabilities and services. Business managers can gain experience in sustainable development to attract businesses looking to change their management style.
Being the best in your field is a great way to get top clients who are happy to pay a set price for your services. Not only will you have the skills, but you will also have the formal qualifications businesses will want when hiring someone they don’t know.
Develop Business Intelligence
Of course, as you will be starting and managing your own business, the specialization Business Intelligence is a key component to your success. Accountants can even combine their efforts to expand their skill set and business knowledge at once with a specialization in Business Intelligence during their MBA in accounting online degree.
You will be fully ready to pass the CPA and CMA exams, as well as run your own business. This means any accountant looking to take their business freelance or start their own accounting firm can tackle two birds with one stone.
In fact, the flexibility of the MBA means that many who are looking to start their own firm or work for themselves as a consultant can do so. By backing your skillset with essential business knowledge, you can succeed no matter what hurdles come your way.
Build a Great Website
The first thing you will want to do after perfecting your skillset and earning those qualifications is to create a business website. This should include who you are, the services you offer, pricing, and how to contact you. Your website will be your primary point of contact for new customers, so invest in it.
As this type of website doesn’t need to have all the bells and whistles, you could theoretically invest in a high-quality, search-engine-optimized website theme and have it customized from there, instead of paying someone to build it from scratch.
If you don’t have time to customize it and tweak it to perfection, you will still want to hire a web developer to set it up for you. This way, you can immediately start with a great-looking site.
Before you say adieu to your web developer, have some friends and family test out your site with several different goals in mind. Have them write down any difficulties they have in the process and then pass it back to your web developer so that they can hash out those details before you officially launch.
Search Engine Optimization
Your next step should be to hire an SEO agency to optimize your site for search engines. This involves both behind the scenes improvements and content. After your site has been optimized, you will also want to invest in managed SEO services to help boost your visibility on search engines. After all, those who are searching for a new accountant for their business will likely start on Google.
PPC marketing will also help with this, but if you can get to that #1 spot on a related search organically, you will see a massive influx of visitors and clients.
Build Your Reputation
Trust is one of the most difficult things to build online. That is why you need to use all the social signals and trust signals you can. Your accreditation is your first step, but you will also want to acquire reviews from past clients, list awards you may have won, mentions in any media, and so on.
It’s a good idea to start with recommendations from past employers or businesses you may have worked with. This way, you can start showcasing your work with other businesses right off the bat.
Don’t stop there, however. See if these businesses would like to hire your skills, or if they know anyone who would like to hire you. Leverage your network when you first take your skills freelance to really kickstart your business and client list.
How to Manage a Client List
You won’t actively be working for each client all the time, but that doesn’t mean that you can ignore them when they are not using your services. Create resources that keep you in constant communication with them.
This could be a newsletter update to the latest changes in tax laws that you send out to all of your clients. It could also be accounting software recommendations for the year, and so on. By providing this service, you can really appeal to your clients and work to maintain them year after year.
When to Hire, When to Outsource
Though you are working for yourself as a consultant, there will come a time when you need to hire others. This could be in supportive roles, or to help manage your client list. Just make sure you know when it is appropriate to hire a new full-time employee and when you should outsource. Typically speaking, it would be better to outsource to an agency (as you did with web design and SEO, and should do for IT and security) for tasks you would need a whole team for. If you need someone to help offset your workload, that is when you hire someone personally.
There you have it: how to start your own consulting business online.