The 7 best things about starting a consulting business

There are a bunch of things I love about consulting businesses, but today, I’m going to talk about the 7 best things about starting a consulting business.  So let’s go!

Measure success

How do you measure success?

1.  Extremely low start-up costs

There are tons of business opportunities out there, but consulting ranks among the lowest for start-up costs.  While you could spend tens of thousands of dollars purchasing a franchise, you could instead start a consulting business with as little as $100 or $200.  And as any business owner knows, keeping costs to the bare minimum lowers your risk, and extends the time you have to start being profitable.

2.  You already have the skills to become a consultant

OK, so maybe you’re thinking that you don’t have any marketable skills.  But you’re wrong.  You’ve had jobs, you have interests and hobbies.  And each of those areas is an area of expertise.  Consulting is at its most basic just selling your expertise.  Obviously, if you’ve got technical expertise in, say, software development, then you have a logical market niche.  But regardless, you still have talents and experience that others will pay for.  You don’t need expensive, time-consuming training to start a consulting business–you can start now!

3.  You greatly increase your income potential

Since a consulting business typically has such low costs, you’re likely to be profitable as soon as you get your first payment from a client.  And if you follow my recommendation to start a consulting business as a side hustle in addition to your day job, your consulting income is extra cash on top of your regular salary.

The increased income from consulting can truly be life-changing.  When my wife was laid off from her job, I was able to support our family solely from my consulting income, since my consulting revenue was more than what we both made combined before I started consulting.  On a related note:

4.  Less risk

I’ve written about the risk of having a regular job here and here, but I’ll say it again:  relying on 1 job for your income is VERY risky.  People get laid off, downsized, and fired.  Companies go out of business.  Your employer can cut your salary if business is slow.

But when you consult for many clients, your risk is lower.  Some clients may not need anything from you for several months, but that’s OK.  You’ll get work from other clients.  You’ll get new clients. And the longer you do consulting, the more clients you have, and the more repeat clients you’ll have–which leads to increased income and less risk.

5.  More flexibility

  • Your own consulting business will give you the freedom to set your own work hours and work from virtually anywhere.  We all have personal business and interests, and having a set-in-stone schedule for a day job can make your life stressful.  I remember feeling stressed if I had to stay home when one of my kids got sick, and I’d feel guilty that I wasn’t at work and guilty that I wasn’t fully present with my child.  At my regular day job, I couldn’t always schedule vacation time when I wanted, and worse yet, at one point had a boss tell me that I had to make up the sick time when I was home with my sick child.  You get the idea.

Now, I can volunteer at my kids’ school every week, guilt-free.  I can work at home, in my office, a cafe, or even in the park or at a beach.  I just need to make sure that my clients are happy, and that I’m working enough to pay the bills.  But I have none of the schedule-related stress that used to go with the day job.

6.  It feels great to help others (and get paid for it)

This is one of the neatest things about my consulting work.  I like the technical work that I do, but it’s much more gratifying to know that I’m helping my clients.  In fact, yesterday, I received a fruit basket as a completely unexpected thank-you gift from one of my clients.  It felt great to know that my work was valued.

7.  A completely different mindset

This is a big one, and it was a bit unexpected for me.  When I started my consulting business, my way of thinking shifted.  I stopped feeling dependent and/or victimized, and started feeling more active and responsible for outcomes.  This shift didn’t happen overnight, but was more gradual, especially as I saw the direct results of my efforts to build my consulting business.  Over time, it’s gotten me to the point where I can’t imagine ever having a day job again.

What do you think? What are the downsides to relying a day job for your income?  What’s stopping you from starting your consulting business?

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TheCosmopolitan21 . - March 15, 2014 Reply

Hi Greg: something pretty important is about legal agreements and exclusivity. If you are not careful enough, you may end up restricting a lot your future consultancies by other contractors, as some companies are asking for too much exclusivity and if you sign such agreement you won’t be able to help others in the same area of business.

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