As a consulting firm leader you encounter youngsters and corporate folks who gaze on your practice with admiration and ask you what it takes to start a consulting firm. Your answer can be refreshingly simple.
A simple Google search reveals 13.83 bazillion gurus and marketers who offer tidy packages and courses for startup consultants. They cover all the basics of incorporating, basic accounting, websites, templates for proposals and deliverables, subcontracting and more.
Those are all distractions. There’s only ONE thing you need to start a consulting firm.
If there’s someone willing to pay you to help them solve their problem or achieve their aspirations, you’re off and running as a consultant. Absolutely nothing else needs to be in place.
Then, only after you have a client, you can work on the next thing you need to start up a consulting firm:
A chocolate snack, then another client.
Then another. (Client, not snack.)
Before you create any infrastructure at all, including websites, etc., you should win at least three clients.
Perhaps you should set up a corporate entity to shield you from liability. You can consult an attorney about that. My observation (not legal advice) is that out of the hundreds and hundreds of start-up consultants I’ve encountered, exactly none have ever faced legal action from their first few clients.
Once you’re landing clients, you can deliver whiz-bang results, earn a tidy income and build yourself a consulting firm.
Conversely, if you pour energy and money into creating infrastructure, then find you can’t land clients, your reward is the bitter taste of unfulfilled intentions, not a consulting practice.
Admittedly, once you’re up and running, there are a plethora of requirements and best-practices to build a sustainable, thriving, professional consulting business. And yes, there is plenty to learn and implement if you want to scale your consulting firm.
However, the starting place is very easy. Win clients.
Do you agree with that advice for colleagues who want to start their own consulting practice? What else would you tell them?
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.