Forbes predicts that the percentage of the U.S. workforce engaged in freelance or independent work would cross 50 percent by 2020. In addition, the arrival of tools such as Hubstaff offers an attractive way for such kind of workers to track time even when not physically present in an office. The best part is that consulting is potentially lucrative. So, it is a good time to join the bandwagon.

How to Get your Consulting Business Started

Here are 5 top ways, to get your consulting business off the ground with a bang!

1. What is your Niche and What does your Potential Market Want?

You need to define your niche. Spare some time to think about the following:
What are the areas/things/skills you are good at as indicated by your career history
Which are the areas, subjects or skills that you have learnt and acquired expertise in?
Are you interested in, fascinated by or passionate about any industry?
What nature of work was it that brought in the most tangible business results often in your career?

After defining a niche for yourself, research your market. Find out what are the current key challenges faced by your target market, and what they want. To help you, consider checking out blogs and news connected to your niche. You might also want to follow your niche’s top influencers.

BONUS POINT: Is there a specific problem in your niche which you cannot solve with your existing skill set? Then, go ahead and upgrade your skills!

2. Research Technology you can Use to Manage your Work and Time Better

Make sure you have something to help you stay on track with your projects. Consider using tools such as Basecamp, Trello, Wrike, Hubstaff, and Zoho Projects.

BONUS POINT: You can reduce the time wasted on moving back and forth from one meeting to another by using Uber or Lyft to book your ride. Just download the application(s) and you’re ready to go.

3. Create a Value Proposition

A value proposition is generally one or two short sentences that convey your competitive advantage and the reason(s) why a client should come to you. Look at these two examples to get an idea of what it is all about:

Consider it done – Thumbtack

Pizza delivered in 30 minutes or it’s free – Dominoes

To get started think about

who your target audience is?
what their pain point is and the solution you have for it?
how does your business or solution stand out from the competition?

BONUS POINT: To make things easier, start off by writing a paragraph or two on the three points listed above. Then, try to shorten and tweak till you finally arrive at your catchy value proposition.

4. Market and Attract

It is not enough to set up a business and just wait for clients to call you. You need to market yourself, portraying yourself as a leading authority in your specific niche. Publish blogs and podcasts to share whatever knowledge you have, build email lists, do cold calling, get active on Quora and Facebook, attend and speak at conferences, and the like. In short, do all possible to get businesses to know about you and what you can reliably do for them.

Meanwhile, also protect your online reputation by watching out for negative and fake reviews. If you find any, do the needful immediately.

BONUS POINT: LinkedIn is a great platform to market and get noticed. Try to keep headlines simple and summaries lucid. Post as regularly as you can. Get involved in LinkedIn groups pertaining to your niche. In addition, consider sending personalized messages to people you wish to connect to.

5. Fix your Pricing and your Package

Evaluate how much of your time and hard work would go towards delivering a particularly service. When doing so, take into consideration all your expenses such as rent, office supplies, utilities and even tax. Be careful to neither over price nor under price. Typically, there are three key pricing structures you can offer:

Hourly – When setting an hourly fee, keep in mind that the more you charge, the more people would expect from you. At the same time, make sure you are not on the losing end.

Project Basis – This kind of rate is typically how much you the consultant would get, to work on a particular project, for a predetermined time period.

Retainer Basis – This is a pricing package by which you set a fixed
per-month price and will have to work for your client for a set number of hours each month.

BONUS POINT: Be professional about your invoicing and accepted payments. Make sure your invoice has all the essentials such as invoice number, date of invoice, itemized description, amount due, and name and contact information of yourself or your business and your client. Be sure to have the payment policy down in writing and be flexible in accepting various forms of payment.

If you are good at it, consulting can be a really fulfilling business to venture into. You will really feel satisfied when you see the positive impact of your work on a business’ growth.