How to Start a Consulting Business: A Starter Guide

If you have experience or expertise in a certain area of business you may be able to start a successful consulting career. Every day thousands of businesses are in need of certain consulting services and they are willing to pay an expert to help them solve their problems.

A great thing about starting a consulting business is that it has relatively low startup costs. The most important element that’s required is your expertise or experience in a certain field. Since you already have this, there really isn’t much else you need other than to start letting potential clients know about your skills and how you can help them solve their problems.

In this article, we’ll go over the key steps necessary to start your own successful consulting business from the ground up.

6 Steps to Creating a Consulting Company

To start a Consulting business you first need to decide what type of consulting you would be best at as well as how you plan to reach potential clients. 

Decide the Type of Consulting Services 

Of course, the first step is deciding what type of consulting you’re going to offer. Often this is going to be a field that is related to some past work experience that you’ve had, but it doesn’t have to be the exact type of work or even the same industry that you plan on offering consulting for. There are many types of skills that people can learn in various industries that transfer over to either similar industries or even industries that are completely different.

For example, the field of quality control applies to all different types of industries from equipment manufacturing to pharmaceutical production. This means that even if you worked in one specific field you can probably branch off and work in many different industries by utilizing the same transferable skills.

By analyzing your own skill set and seeing which of those skills can apply to different industries, you can drastically open up your list of potential clients.

Price Your Services 

After you’ve decided on the type of consulting you plan on offering, you’ll need to decide how you plan on pricing those different services. In this regard, there can be a lot of variation in pricing when it comes to consulting services and there’s no set price.

However, the most important point is that most companies are going to hire you because they want to increase their profitability in some way. That means that they should receive a return on investment from the money they spend on your services.

At the same time this also means that if you can save a company millions of dollars each year, you can charge quite a bit of money for that service. There is no limit to the amount of money you can make with a successful consulting business. 

How you choose to charge or bill those clients is completely up to you though. You can charge by the hour or you can charge via retainer. There are many options that you can choose and you will have to find the one that works best for your own business and your budgeting.

Register Your Consulting Business 

Certain types of consulting will require specific permits or licenses that are related to the field you plan on offering your services. Common examples are if you plan on consulting in the legal field, medical field, or accounting field. 

All of this can vary depending on the type of services you plan on offering. So make sure to check with the licensing and professional organizations within the field that you are consulting for to find out which permits may be necessary.

After that, you’ll need to register your consulting business as a legal entity. A popular choice is to register your business as an LLC or a limited liability instead of something like a sole proprietor. By doing this, your clients can make payments to a company name which helps to show that your business is a professional one. Also by registering as an LLC you can enjoy certain tax advantages as well as liability protection.

Market Your Business Online and Offline

Marketing a consultant business can be different than when you’re marketing other types of businesses or a specific product. This is especially true if you’re the face of the company or the only consultant that will be providing these services when hired.

In this case, you’ll want to market and promote yourself as an expert in this field to attract the ideal client. You can start this process by building a website that informs potential clients of your past work history as well as your past success and how you’ve helped other clients.

You’ll also want to build social media profiles where you post regularly about industry-specific topics. By doing this you can build a following as well as a reputation for being an expert in a certain field.

You’ll want to identify common pain points or issues that impact businesses in your area of expertise. Then offer expert advice regarding solutions and provide metrics that show how fixing these problems can increase profitability and overall business health.

Another way you can build your online presence as an expert in an area is to write articles or case studies that are related to your field. You can post these on your websites or popular platforms like Medium or Substack. Writing these useful and helpful articles helps you position yourself as an expert in your field who is fully engaged in the industry.

You can also promote your consulting business by joining and interacting with local or national industry associations in your field. This can be a great way to network and reach potential clients in your area of expertise.

Finally, you can also choose to speak or present seminars at local or national conferences that are related to your industry. An alternative to this is to create webinars yourself that you then release online that help potential clients identify their business problems. These self-produced webinars can then have a call to action telling clients if they need additional help or assistance to contact you to learn about your services. 

Build Lasting Relationships with Existing and Potential Clients

Businesses that hire a consultant, want to feel as though the consultant is putting all of their time and effort into improving the business. It’s important that your clients feel confident that you are giving them your undivided attention and that you’re both on the same team in regards to making their business as successful as possible.

By doing this as part of your business model you can build lasting relationships with clients as well as build a history and a reputation as a dedicated consultant who gets results.

Many consultants will build their reputation and their business through word-of-mouth. This means that reputation is vital to building your brand and client base.

Grow Your Business Through Networking Events

We touched on this in the earlier section and it holds true that networking also plays a crucial role when building a successful consulting business. Almost every industry will have local or national conferences where decision-makers and other individuals involved in that industry will come to meet and network.

It’s important to keep track of these events and make sure to schedule your attendance for the ones that work best for you. Even though we live in a digital world there is still nothing that can beat face-to-face networking when it comes to landing new clients in your target market.

Different Niches for Consultants

Below are the most common areas for consultants but as mentioned earlier, consulting services can be divided or reduced to a near-limitless number of niches that specialize even further than just these key areas.

Accounting Consultants

This area covers a wide range of services from directly offering accounting or bookkeeping help for businesses to offering analytics and metrics related to spending or earnings.

Business and Organization Consultants

Businesses that have expanded recently may be unaware of how they should structure new departments and personnel. A business and organization consultant can help new or existing businesses expand or grow in the most efficient ways possible and reduce redundancy within an organization.

Financial Consultants

These consultants can help with a wide variety of financial issues, including financial planning or wealth management advice.

Green Living Consultants

This fast-growing area of consulting can help clients meet their goals to run a more eco-friendly business. In some areas, it’s becoming a requirement for businesses to be more energy efficient, so this can be a great area for growth.

Human Resource (HR) Consultants

Managing human resources can be difficult for many companies and this is where consultants can help offer solutions. HR consultants will help businesses either manage their existing HR departments or provide some of these services for them.

Information Technology Consultants

Every business is reliant on technology and that technology is constantly changing. Information technology consultants help businesses better leverage technology to reduce costs and increase productivity.

Legal Consultants

This field is primarily for those with a legal background and provides businesses with consulting services related to contract law and other legal areas relevant to their business operations.

Marketing and Branding Consultants

Many businesses may have a great product but are unsure how to properly brand and market that product. Consultants can help with this task by using their years of experience to construct a brand image and marketing plan that gets results. 

Advantages of a Consulting Business

Running a consulting business can offer many advantages compared to other forms of business:

  • The ability to dictate your own schedule
  • The potential for high earnings
  • The ability to work with a variety of clients

Disadvantages of a Consulting Business

As with any business, there are also downsides to running a consulting firm so it’s wise to understand these downsides before making your decision.

  • Lacks long-term security. Clients can fluctuate and leave you with gaps in earnings.
  • Operating a consulting business often requires a significant investment of time. Networking and promoting yourself is something that is a never-ending process.
  • Most of your efforts go toward helping other people’s businesses. You have to be the type of person who enjoys helping others.

Ready to Start Your New Consulting Business?

If you’re ready to leverage your years of expertise and training and start a consulting business, contact doola to learn how we can help you along the way.

Our bookkeeping services are perfect for busy consultants who need to focus on their clients, not their day-to-day bookkeeping. Let doola help you each step of the way. From registering your business all the way to helping you keep track of finances with our trusted bookkeeping services.


How much does it cost to start a consulting business?

Starting a consulting business is more about selling your own experience and knowledge, so there is little to buy as far as equipment in most cases. However, considerable time needs to be spent building your brand and image as an expert in your field.

How do I start a consulting business from home?

You’ll need to decide what area of business you want to offer consulting in. After that, you’ll need to register your business. Finally, you will need a marketing plan to reach potential clients.

Can I be a consultant without a company?

You will need to register your business before offering consulting services, but you can be the only employee or consultant. Many consultants are the only employees of their own companies.

Should I form an LLC for consulting work?

An LLC can be a good choice for a consulting business as it provides certain tax advantages and liability protection. Contact doola to learn how to easily form your own LLC in minutes.

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