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12 Steps To Launching A Consultancy

12 Steps To Launching A Consultancy
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After a Long Career, a Consultancy May Be the Next Best Step

For over 40 years I’ve served as a brand consultant and Executive Coach for people engaged in both business and career transition.  One of the key conversations I’ve had with many people was the ability to launch a consultancy. A consultancy can be rewarding on many levels to an executive. Rewarding both financially and professionally where a network of connections can empower success.

A consultancy can also offer an executive a career option if they have retired, resigned or in some cases, been laid-off.

Here are 12 key steps to keep in mind if you are considering a consultancy as the next step in your career. 

  1. Do a business plan. Sure, it may seem like your consultancy will be simple and uncomplicated, but there are many elements in a business plan that can help you define both your brand position as a consultant and your overall goals and approach.  A business plan guides decisions and the better your decisions – the more likely you’ll succeed.
  2. As much as possible avoid significant startup costs. This might mean working from home but it takes a while to launch a new venture and your roster of clients may take a while to fully develop. There are some basic expenses you will have to consider however. These include business cards, stationery and some of the other basics that define you as a business including one very important one: a website.
  3. Yes, you need a website. Think of it as the front door to your virtual office. A website allows you to clearly identify your services, provide information such as articles, whitepapers or contact information, and can also be used as a portal for client communication. It doesn’t have to be extensive and can grow with your business.
  4. Network, network, network. This includes using both social and business networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and good old-fashioned phone calls and emails. The network you’ve developed in an industry can lead you to recommendations and connections that can get you off the ground quickly.
  5. Build relationships, especially new ones. Most of your on-going work will come from the relationships you build with clients over time. They can also serve to recommend or introduce you to new work and contacts in the future.
  6. Get used to wearing lots of hats. Working on your own means you’ll have to fulfill many of the roles and responsibilities that you may have delegated in the past.  You may find yourself being the janitor, secretary, accountant, operations manager, purchasing agent and delivery man, with a business card that says, “President and CEO.”
  7. Strive for sustainability. As you become more profitable and begin to reach the goals you’ve outlined in your business plan you can begin to sub-contract work and responsibilities to freelancers and other consultants. At some point, you may decide to rent or lease office space and hire employees. That’s when sustainability becomes critical to your long-term success.  You want to get to the point where your business supports itself rather than dumping your personal savings into every monthly bill.
  8. Remember that big opportunities may find you. In fact, many consultants are pleasantly surprised when a client taps them on the shoulder and says, “Do you want to work here?” If the situation is right it could give you a second-wind or a new opportunity with full-time employment and benefits.
  9. Speaking of benefits, pay close attention. Depending on your age and financial situation many of the benefits you took for granted as a full-time employee can be both costly to acquire or simply unavailable. Do your homework and see what you can manage in terms of health insurance, life insurance, disability and retirement.
  10. Incorporate as a Limited Liability Company or LLC. It can be done quickly, simply and cheaply through online sites on the Internet. Search for “How to form an LLC.”  It will grant you fundamental protection for your personal assets in the event of a suit or litigation.  Some sites will let you do this for as little as $75.
  11. Understand the tax laws and the benefits you can realize from a tax perspective as a small business owner. An accountant can help in this regard, but you should take the time to understand the best way to manage your expenses, income and deductions. There are also numerous publications through the IRS to help you understand your options, and a good number of books written on the subject.
  12. Give yourself a break. Many people who have aspired to be their own boss have stated that they were the worst boss they ever worked for. Strive to balance your workstyle with your lifestyle and don’t push yourself too hard. A balanced approach based on a business plan with respect for sustainability should allow you to sleep well and, if you choose, often.


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