If you’re reading this, chances are you’re on the precipice of an exciting new venture – starting your own consulting firm. In our hyper-connected world, the allure of starting your own consulting firm is undeniable. After all, consultancy isn’t just your standard boring day job. It's the opportunity to rise above challenges, reshape industries and earn a pretty decent income while you’re at it, which is always a bonus.
However, before diving head-first into launching a consulting firm, there are a few essential things you’ll have to keep in mind. Taking this big leap is a game-changer, so you need to be 100% confident you’ve got it all figured out. And the good news is that you don’t have to go it alone — we’re here to guide you through this exciting journey.
In this article, we explore 7 top considerations to make when establishing a consulting firm. So, if you’re ready to start making some waves in the consultancy world, simply read on to find out more.
1. Look Into Professional Indemnity Insurance
Like most things in life, insurance is your best friend, and this is no different when establishing a business such as your own consulting firm. In the complex world of consultancy, mistakes can happen despite your best intentions — we’re all human after all.
With that, taking out professional indemnity insurance for your business can truly be your saving grace. Unlike other types of business insurance, this particular subcategory protects you from claims of alleged negligence or breach of duty in your professional services. Not only does this provide an important financial safety net, but it also offers peace of mind, allowing you to focus your time and effort into delivering top-notch services instead of worrying about the “what ifs''. It can also help to instil confidence in your clients, reassuring them that you're committed to transparency.
So, remember to safeguard your enterprise by investing in the right type of insurance that will help you navigate the twists and turns that naturally come with the consulting territory. And remember – peace of mind shouldn’t be considered to be a luxury.
2. Develop A Unique Brand Identity
In today’s highly digital and visual age, image and branding is more important than ever before. This is why one of the most important things to consider when establishing a consulting firm is your brand identity. But first, we need to understand exactly what that means. Simply put, your brand identity defines how you present your consulting firm to the world. It’s your company’s personality, outlining what sets it apart from its competitors, and thus, revealing the best ways for your business to attract its target market.
Your unique brand identity will consist of various elements, including your logo, colour scheme, social media presence and website to name just a few. Think of it as the visual aspect to your brand and what makes you instantly recognisable to clients. Some notable examples of killer brand identity to take inspiration from include Nike’s ‘swoosh’ or Instagram’s polaroid-style logo.
If you already have a clear picture of what you would like your brand identity to be, you’re all set. However, this aspect can be quite challenging for many in the initial stages, so there is no need to rush through the process.
3. Choose Your Niche
Now it’s time to choose your niche, also known as your personal expertise. In the vast world of consultancy, specialising in specific industries or areas is your ticket to standing out from the crowd. For example, are you looking to specialise in digital marketing consultancy? Maybe you’re a financial wizard who is looking to revolutionise small business finances. The possibilities are endless, and are highly dependent on your unique expertise.
The more defined and specialised your niche, the easier it will be to attract your ideal clients. Remember, your clients aren’t looking for someone who is a jack of all trades — they’re looking for specialised solutions from knowledgeable professionals who truly understand their unique challenges and needs. So, own your niche with pride and continuously work on refining your skills to provide your clients with the best of the best.
4. Acquire The Necessary Registrations and Licences
Of course, all the other points in this article are moot if you don’t have the necessary registrations and licences to establish a consulting firm. Generally, in Australia, there is no specific qualification or certifications needed to practise as a consultant. However, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook.
For example, if your consultancy ventures into specific industries such as real estate or law, you will still need a real-estate licence or legal degree to operate. Other industries such as IT may not require specific licences, but it’s still a good idea to ensure that you have the right qualifications and hands-on experience for the job. If you are unsure of what registrations, licences or qualifications you need, we highly recommend getting in touch with a regulatory compliance lawyer who will be able to fill you in on exactly what you need to do.
5. Figure Out Your Price Point
Another major consideration you’ll need to dive into is what you’ll be charging for your services, and this can understandably be incredibly tricky for first-timers. Set your prices too high, and you might scare away potential clients; set it too low, and you may be undervaluing your expertise and services. As always, finding that delicate balance is key.
For starters, have a look at the market rates and industry standards for similar consulting services in your niche. This will give you a rough idea of what you can expect to be charging to remain competitive. Next, look into your fee structure. Generally, there are 3 main fee structures for consultancy, including hourly rates, project rates and retainers for ongoing clients. Each structure comes with its own pros and cons, so be sure to do your research and choose what works best for your individual circumstances.
Remember that clients appreciate authenticity and transparency, so be upfront about your pricing structure and clearly communicate exactly what services you will be offering for your fees.
6. Master The Art of Effective Marketing
We’ll let you in on a little secret. You can have all your ducks in a row, but without an effective branding or marketing strategy, your consulting firm might remain hidden in the shadows. It’s a harsh reality, one that rings true nonetheless. So, if you’re looking to not just establish a consulting firm but also ensure its long-term success, mastering the art of effective marketing is key.
Fortunately, marketing is a lot easier and more approachable than ever before, thanks to the rise of social media platforms, content marketing, online advertising and networking. Networking, in particular, can be one of the most powerful marketing strategies for consulting firms as it allows you to form genuine connections in your industry and cement yourself as a reputable industry expert. So, be ready to invest your time into attending conferences, joining professional groups, and engaging in online forums to extend your reach and expertise.
Remember, these marketing essentials aren’t just tools — they’re ultimately what can make or break your business. So, channel your resources into effective marketing and watch as your consulting business takes off.
7. Embrace Modern Technology
Last but not least, if you’re looking to streamline your operations and ensure that more of your time is spent consulting, rather than dealing with the nitty gritty aspects of business, consider integrating cutting-edge technology into your consultancy. Whether it’s project management software to keep you on track, or automated accounting software that crunches the numbers on your behalf, there's a plethora of tech solutions tailored to make your consultancy journey that much more pain-free.
Not only will these nifty tech tools save you valuable time, but it will also communicate to your clients that you’re committed to providing the best (and most efficient) service possible. It allows you to focus on what you do best – providing expert advice – while the tech handles the rest.
And there you have it — 7 top considerations to make when establishing a consulting firm. Each consideration represents a strategic move and a vital decision that shapes your consulting firm’s identity and journey. So, go forth and conquer.
What are some of your thoughts on establishing a consulting firm? Have some tips or advice of your own? We love hearing from you, so be sure to share them in the comments section below.