Freelancing is becoming increasingly popular across the country and with working from home being widely available, starting your own freelance consultant business is a great way to start out as a freelancer.
If you have previous experience as a consultant, you already have the knowledge to start offering your service. But how do you showcase your consulting business, and how do you get clients? Symposium has gathered the basics for you in this article!
What does freelance consulting entail?
A consultant is a professional who provides advice in an area of specialization. The good news for you is, this area of specialization can be anything. From legal advice to market researcher, the types of consultants are infinite!
But what are your responsibilities as a consultant? The short answer is whatever you agree upon with your client. The longer answer, however, is to provide professional insights and advice about the topic of your expertise. This advice can range from spoken or written conclusions derived from research, but can also include physical labor. As a chemical consultant, you may be required to create the setup you are advising, so that your client can start working with it. Whereas a legal advisor may only be required to file a written report with research findings and conclusions or recommendations.
The red line throughout your consulting career should always be to make sure that you communicate your intentions clearly to the client. This will prevent stress, disappointing collaborations, and potential negative reviews for your business.
Getting started as a freelance consultant
In terms of working hours, this can be as flexible as you like it to be. One of the biggest pros of becoming a freelancer is the flexibility of working where and whenever you want. But be careful, because this is also where individuals often fail. Learn about the Top Time Management Tips for Freelancers to make the deadlines you promised your clients (and yourself).
Depending on your consulting field, you may need to be available to your clients during regular business hours. In other cases, you may have to work weekends and/or evenings. It truly depends on the industry you’re working in, as well as your client’s expectations.
Determine your consulting rate
Once you have established your working hours and days, you should start thinking about your consulting rate. Again, this amount can vary greatly based on your industry. When working for clients on an hourly basis, an hourly rate probably makes the most sense. In terms of a project-delivery type of job, you might charge your client for the project as a whole. Keep in mind that this package-price should also include your labor costs. Here are some tips on how to set your freelance rate.
How to get freelance consultant clients
Once you have established your consulting business, work hours and rate, it’s time to get clients. Although this might be the more challenging step of getting started as a consultant, it can also be a lot of fun! There are various ways to let (potential) clients know about your consulting business, so here are some ideas to get started:
1. Build a website and online presence
Although a website isn’t necessary, it is an excellent way to share your business information, contact details and maybe even some snippets of your work. Think of your website as your portfolio. Make it look attractive enough for your audience to get excited about doing business with you and make it easy for them to contact you.
2. Start networking with people in your industry
Nowadays, networking events are organized for all sorts of industries. LinkedIn has a great feature to stay on top of networking events in your industry. It’s a great way to meet businesses and people you would like to work with and for, but it’s also a great way to sell yourself. If you make a good impression, people will remember you when they need something in the future.
Even though networking is an excellent way to meet potential clients, you don’t have to focus exclusively on them. You can also join networking events where you meet colleagues and competitors. Think of your competitors as colleagues. If they attract a client who doesn’t fit in their scope of work, or they don’t have the bandwidth to work with them, they should be wanting to send the client to you instead! Learn from each other, make them laugh, and leave them your business card. After all, people are more likely to send business your way if they like you.
Not ready to attend in-person events? No problem! Symposium is an online platform that connects you to other professionals, as well as potential clients! Download the app for free, or sign up for the newsletter for more information.
3. Maintaining existing relationships
In some areas of expertise, it may be possible to sign contracts with your clients for ongoing work, or repeating business. From a weekly check-in or a monthly meeting to a quarterly audit or yearly recap. If getting new clients is hard in your consulting industry, holding onto the clients you do have might be more profitable than spending lots of time attracting new ones.
Learn more about how to get (and keep) freelance clients here.
Is a freelance consulting career your next gig?
Becoming a successful freelancer requires a few important traits. Although most of these can be learned, it’s incredibly important to truly understand your market, target audience, and have a basic understanding of how to run your own business. Luckily, 2022 is a great year to start working as a freelance consultant. Not only are many businesses looking for the flexibility to hire a consultant when they need it, the industry is also in desperate need of them!
So take a critical look at yourself and see if you’re ready to start working for yourself. Are you:
- Motivated to start work and helping others succeed;
- A strong communicator who can set clear expectations;
- Capable of setting yourself deadlines and sticking to these;
- Knowledgeable about current trends and developments in your business’ market;
- Wanting to network and build relationships?
Sign up for Symposium and start networking and meeting your clients today! And until the work assignments roll in, make sure to stay active and relevant in the online world of your industry.