In this series of articles I’m going to show you how you can start and build a successful consulting business. All this with the help of a very personal case study. That is, I’m going to tell you the story of how I’ve built my consulting business, while giving you specific tips on how you can do that too.
The Most Important Question When You Start A Consulting Business
How Can I Help You Become A Successful Consultant?
I started my SEO and online marketing consulting business in 2012. I was completely new to this field, with no prior experience or clients. I had to build everything from the ground up, with already 2 kids (now I have 3), so no time to spare.
At the beginning I was selling my own services, helping online entrepreneurs achieve better search results, and also building websites. That is, I worked as an SEO expert and a website developer.
Not long after that I created my first info product – a downloadable SEO checklist – and it became a hit. So I decided I would focus more on teaching people how to do this instead of me doing it for them.
Today my consulting business employs 7 people part time, and we are making about $30-40K per month. And the best of all, I don’t have to work every day, all of this income is at least partly passive, from our online courses.
I’ve taught more than 2000 people how to start their online business, how to get better results, and more clients from the web. With this series I’d like to give you the information that I’ve learned while building my own successful consulting business.
This being the first part in the series, let me address the most important question you need to answer when starting a consulting business. In fact this is the very cornerstone of every successful business.
Can you name at least one product or service you’re planning to sell?
I’ve met so many entrepreneurs jumping right into their business without any planning or anything to sell at all, so many people wanting to make money online with no definite answer to this question.
People start a website, but without a definitive goal. They’re chasing all the online marketing tricks out there, trying to find the holy grail of making passive income, but they don’t even have one single product or service they could charge for.
How do you expect to make any income if you have nothing to sell?
I’m not talking about dreams here. Nor I’m talking about “I know there’s demand for what I know”. Or even about “I’m going to sell consulting sessions by the hour, and we’ll see how it goes”. Neither of this is something you can sell.
People don’t really want to buy your time. They are not interested about your dreams, and to tell you the truth, they don’t even care about your knowledge. They have problems, and they want solutions for that. Either you can name at least one product or service as a consultant that does just that, or you’re doomed from the beginning.
What you can sell is an actual product, an actual service. It has to have a name, you have to be able to deliver it, should anyone want to buy it, and it definitely has to have a clear purpose, and a desired state it can produce or bring about at the consumer’s side.
When I first started out as an SEO expert, no one had known me, and I had no prior experience with clients in this field. So I had to come up with something. I figured that even if I sell my knowledge by the hour, people doesn’t really want to by my time, what they want instead is better results in search. I was also pretty good in building websites, why not make money on that too…
So I decided that I would have 3 services at the beginning. As an SEO expert, I offered a general SEO audit, a monthly service, and also a service where I made websites for small businesses.
And believe it or not, I started offering these services and making money even before I even started my consulting website. I know this sounds strange, and it seems like going against anything only gurus out there would suggest. But this is just the way I did, and the way it worked. In fact why even have a website if you don’t have anything to sell?
The Biggest Confusion
I find the biggest confusion when starting a business is that people want to make it big on the first try. They fear of being wrong, they fear of starting it again, and they also fear of correcting what they’re doing.
The truth is, no one makes it big on the first try. Sometimes you only see the successful shot, but you don’t know how many failed attempts had been preceding that.
There is an old saying that goes like:
If you haven’t fallen off a horse… then you’ve probably haven’t been riding long enough.
Successful entrepreneurs often point out something similar in business. If you haven’t bankrupted a business… then you’re probably not ready to build a successful business yet.
Of course I’m not saying or even implying that you have to bankrupt a business in order to be successful. But you need to be open to try out new things, to make mistakes and to learn from your own bad business decisions if you ever want to build a prosperous company and be a successful consultant.
As I pointed out above, I started out with 3 services: SEO audit; SEO monthly service and website development. None of these actually became the big hit for my consulting business, and I’m not even delivering any of these services anymore.
But these services were extremely helpful for my consulting business at the beginning, and without them I wouldn’t be where I am today. In fact these early services helped me build a successfult consulting business in several ways, including:
- I could start making money as a consultant from the first month.
- I had a chance to get to know my market. Find out what people really need, and what are their biggest obstacles.
- I had constant contact with real life clients since the very beginning. I could see what was working for them and what wasn’t.
A Quick Remark On Your Pricing
At the very beginning you don’t even have to worry about the price. Just name a price and start selling your first product or service as a consultant. You can always change your fee later.
When no one knows you, you generally have to start with low rates. But I’ll talk about pricing in your consulting business later in this series, as this is something many consultants worry about.
How To Build A Successful Consulting Business – Part 1 – Recap
If you want to start and build a successful consulting business, the very first thing you should do is name at least one product or service. You don’t even have to have a website for this, as you can start making money as a consultant before even starting your own website.
So go ahead and find something you could charge for, find a name for it, and a price. Do it today. And from now on, whenever you meet somebody, whenever you have a chance to talk about your business, you can offer people real products and services, and you’ll have a real chance to make an income from day one as a consultant.
Part 2: 4 Tricks I Used To Get My First Consulting Clients »
3 thoughts on “How To Build A Successful Consulting Business – Part 1”
I agree that product and target market definition is crucial if you want to hit any success targets as a consultant. In simple terms, you need something to sell and a group of b2c, b2b or p2p to sell it to.
Product definition is challenging without following some type of planning & protocol.
You definitely have to have a plan. But as part of that business plan, you must define your products, or at least one!