This is a guest post by Josh Elkin, founder of Best Coast Marketing - a marketing agency which helps increase their clients’ traffic through organic link-building. Josh enjoys writing about entrepreneurship, marketing, productivity, and self-improvement.
There are few things more exciting than getting paid money for your expertise. Creating a consulting business, however, is another thing entirely. You have built the skills and knowledge to put you at the top of your game, but what about creating a freelance business from scratch?
There are many twists and turns in the consulting world, and it’s better to understand not only what to focus on, but what to avoid as well.
What is your niche? In what area are you an expert? Often times consultants make the mistake of helping people not only with employee issues, but marketing strategies, sales, future projections, etc. When you pick one thing you are passionate about, you can give your clients higher quality information, versus a wide variety of scattered advice. Or maybe you happen to be a jack-of-all-trades and your clients love you for it?
It may be best to consider hiring a virtual assistant to focus on the smaller details while you work on the big picture.
Knowing your worth is a huge deal. If you’ve just started consulting, you may feel pressure to lower prices. However, if you lower them too much, people may doubt your expertise. Finding that sweet spot is important not just to pay your bills, but to understand the consulting market in general.
Not sure how much you should charge? Why not consult a consultant!
When starting any new business, long hours are expected. However, since you’re consulting someone who may need a lot guidance, you may find yourself answering emails or phone calls when you should be taking personal time. If this is happening, you’re creating a relationship where your client may always expect this. Make a concrete schedule for yourself and stick to it.
This will help distinguish between personal and professional time. One of the easiest ways to cut time from a new business is to have a built in schedule of social media marketing. Instead of writing something on the spot, you can schedule it ahead of time.
One of the most common issues freelancers have is not holding the other person accountable. If you’re a consultant, you’re asking your client to produce results from the guidance you gave them. What if they don’t deliver? What if they don’t pay you when you invoice them for services? Be sure to create a contract that clearly states what you’re there for, and what they need to accomplish. It’ll help extinguish ambiguity and help you draw the line in the sand on how much you’re willing to tolerate.
Have no idea on how to start writing a contract? That’s okay. Find a writer who does! Working as a freelance consultant may be the most rewarding job you’ll ever have, but it shouldn’t be entered into lightly. Take the time to find your niche, your process, and a fair rate for your services. And when things get tricky, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.
How did you get started as a freelance consultant? Tell us in the comments below!