Although most think of starting a consultancy as a project for an established veteran of an industry, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, not only can you start a consulting agency at any experience level, but it’s a great option while you're in college, establishing a professional foundation that could last you a lifetime. However, that’s why we’ve compiled a few helpful tips on how to get your consultancy up and running before graduation day. Check them out below:
Draft Your Plan
If you’re going to be launching a consultancy, then it’s important first to draft up your plan on who exactly you’re going to be consulting. Even if you have a vision in your head in saying you’re specifically a marketing or environmental consultant, it’s essential to have a plan on paper that highlights the types of consultancy you’re going to take on. Not only will this help your potential clients understand what you do, but increases your chances of success, because as noted by B-Plans, companies that plan end up growing 30 percent faster than those that don’t. It’s okay if this process is relatively new for you, as it can be much more intuitive than you might imagine.
Start digging through a few of the business plan templates online, noting any that specifically are designed for consultancy. Furthermore, it might not be a bad idea to bring on a mentor to review your plan, noting how certain aspects can be improved. The more you can cross every “T” and dot every “I,” the more relaxed you’ll feel developing your firm, which is why it’s crucial to take your time with this to ensure you’re doing it right.
Keep It Lean
As your consulting business grows, it’s good to be mindful in keeping your business lean. Even if you have a hot streak of solid clients, you might still need a substantial amount of runway to survive off of, as well as expand. A significant part of having a lean company isn’t just about saving money, but knowing what you can potentially write off, which is huge when it comes to our taxes. However, before we dive too deep into the details, let’s first start with a bird’s eye view of what a lean company looks like.
The overarching goal of a lean company is to save as much money as you possibly can while spending where it’s necessary to grow. For example, as noted by Small Business Trends, 69 percent of small businesses start at home, which for your consultancy will most likely be the case, with meeting spaces like coffee shops or co-working spaces as a top place. Additionally, make your budget include items like marketing, travel, or other incidentals, as you never know what your business will need to grow. Although consultancies don’t always necessarily take much to start out with, they do require a little bit of backing to expand, so make it worth your time to aim for that safety net.
Focus On Branding
As the world of consultancy can be incredibly competitive, it’s imperative to stand out from the crowd, which starts with your branding. Your brand isn’t just your logo or colors used, but the type of personality and overarching image being showcased. Even on a b2b level, your brand is nothing to skimp on because as noted by Protocol80, b2b marketers with who connect with buyers on an emotional level are twice as likely to have an impact than those they’re trying to sell on a functional level. Why is that the case? Because we want to do business with those we aspire to be like, which often starts with that first perception of your brand.
In formulating your brand, you first should take a look at the current image you’re aiming to convey, as well as how it would be objectively viewed amongst the competition in your industry. This can get tricky, as you don’t want to go too deep in being different than your base can’t tell what you do; for example, most environmental consultancies are going to have some blue or green in their logo to highlight nature. A smart brand is one that you can not only identify, but others feel as though they can resonate towards, which should be your primary goal. Even if it requires a little bit of investment to hire a designer, it’ll be well worth what you put in, as this will be a foundation others can look towards long-term.
Keep The Proper Partners Around
Finally, a big part of being able to say “yes” more to projects is working with the proper partners to help pick up the slack. No matter if it’s a video agency or design firm, having great people in place to work with will be an enormous help. These relationships tend to go both ways, with others recommending you as well, which is why it’s crucial to start planning and networking around what can be useful.
Make a list of the potential partners you’ll regularly need, sending introductions as well as briefly what you all can do together. When selling this to clients, it’s also key to show reassurance; for example, if I wanted them to hire a photographer for their social media, then explaining things like how tweets with images get twice as much engagement than those that don’t would be useful. The better value of talent you’re able to compile, the more likely you’ll land the job, so make a concerted effort towards networking with the ideal people.
What are you most excited about in launching your first consultancy? Comment with your answers below!