Have you heard that as a business consultant, you can make 100 000$ per year and more? Who would not want to be a consultant! But do you need a degree to become a consultant?
Big consultancy companies like McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group or Bain & Company require bachelor’s degree as a minimum, advanced graduate degree is preferred. For starting your own consulting company, the degree is not necessary.
Many new business consulting firms fail. Many small business consultants have problems getting clients. How can you get through the competition and be a successful consultant without a university degree?
How to become a consultant without a degree?
#1 Find a niche for your business
You will narrow the audience you are trying to reach by specializing into one field or area you are good at. This way you can be confident that you are providing valuable advice to the businesses.
To choose the right specialization, think about your strength and about your extraordinary knowledge. Choosing your expertise is the very first step.
#2 Prepare a pitch
The goal of your pitch is to be able to explain to your potential clients why they need you. Now you can use your specific knowledge from the industry to explain what problems your audience need to face, how you can solve it and how that is going to benefit them. You should be aware of your competition and know what value only you can bring – what your competitors will not offer.
Tip: Try to put yourself in your clients’ shoes when you are preparing your pitch.
#3 Get the first 3 clients
The first few clients are crucial to break through and start a business. There are few basic strategies on how to lend your first clients, the main rule is that you need to find a way to connect with them first.
You can use e-mailing or cold calling companies, search for online forums and platforms based on your consultancy industry specialization, attend networking events. Work on all the ways of promotions you can think of, create your brand, website, social media platforms so potential clients can find you easily. Search for the chances of getting referrals, connect with people who need your expertise.
#4 Create a client proposal
Making a proposal – a written document that you send to your potential client in order to get a specific job – is going to help you get into the professional level and in the end make a job for you and decision for your client easier. Your potential clients can still refuse your business proposal, so it is important to get it done right.
Writing your first proposal will take a lot of time, but do not worry, with practice you will get faster and better. Do some research and consider finding templates or creating your own template. Remember to put in all the necessary information, including schedule and budgeting.
#5 Charge your services appropriately
The good starting point is to compare yourself with the closest competitors. You do not want to end up being the same as them, but over-pricing of your services will make it difficult for you to get clients. And if you find any clients and they pay a higher price, they will expect a premium service. It is more difficult to make them satisfied and you can end up harming your professional reputation for a long time.
On the other hand, if you under price your services, potential clients will find this being suspicious. It is like buying brand clothes from the unbranded business for an extremely low price – you expect to be scammed.
#6 Retain your clients and attract new clients
Your first clients need to be more than satisfied with your services. Professionals in the field often know each other and winning three clients can lead to the most powerful marketing tool – word of mouth – working in your advantage.
Tip: Implement a reward/compensation program for successful referrals.
Do you need experience to start a consulting company?
You do not need experience to start a consulting company, everyone can start a freelance business. But to be a good consultant and have a successful company which does not go bankrupt in a year, experience in the field is necessary.
The fact that you could start a company without experience, does not mean you should do so.
Surprisingly, you do not need an experience in consulting, rather focus on getting experience in your area of specialization. Do you want to have a marketing-oriented consulting company? Then get experience from working at a marketing company and working in a marketing department of a bigger company.
Do not expect to be successful in a field you do not know enough about. Build your knowledge and portfolio and you will have a much better and easier start of your consulting career. You will build up your name and reputation and it will become easy for you to get clients.
What should you expect when you start a consulting business?
There are few things you should know, expect and be ready for before you start your consulting business.
A new business is like a small child – it depends on you to take care of it. You should know this and be ready to spend much more hours per week in your new starting business than how many hours you worked before as an employee. It is not so uncommon to work 80 hours a week for the first few years.
Stress and pressure
You need to meet deadlines and you pay not only financially for mistakes you make. You can lose clients, opportunities, and a good name in the business very easily. Add high competition you need to deal with, and you see that consulting business is not for everyone.
You need to be on top in your field and familiar with all the changes if you want to provide a superior service to your customers. If you are passionate about the field you work in, this will be quite easy and natural for you to do.
One month you can get many clients, the other month you have nothing to do. If you are not able to save enough money from the good months, you will struggle when the worst months come. Your future is uncertain if you are finishing one project and do not have another client yet. And when the companies you have contracts with face financial problems, getting rid of expenses for a consultant is usually one of the first saving steps.
In the end of the day, it is only up to you to decide if you should start a consulting business. If you come to conclusion that consulting is a career for you, do not let some missing degree stop you from your dreams.