If you are a highly experienced educator or a highly qualified businessperson or administrator in the education field, you may put your skills to work as an education consultant. Consultants are entrepreneurs, generally working for themselves at a significant hourly or per-project rate. This work comes with all the risks and rewards of being a small business owner: being your own boss, setting your own schedule, living with an unpredictable income, and being at the constant mercy of clients.
Determine who your target market is. You may choose to work with schools, parents and students, or companies and organizations such as textbook publishers, governments or international development organizations. Base this decision upon your expertise, your ability to contact potential customers in that market, the size of that market and the speed with which it's growing, and your passion.
Investigate your competition. Local schools or organizations may already have consultants or other resources that they use to do the same tasks you would be providing. Be particularly aware of free resources that may make your offering obsolete. Determine what needs your customers have that are not already being fulfilled. These are areas you can compete in.
Develop your specialty and offerings. You may choose to help private secondary schools go through the accreditation process or to help parents decide which schools and afterschool programs to enroll their children into. In all cases you should have a significant expertise in that field or formal education to back that up. A Ph.D. or Doctor of Education degree may be a necessity, depending upon the competition in your market. If your consulting is directed at families and includes helping a child get back on track academically or working with special groups such as the gifted or learning disabled, you may start your practice small with tutoring and working one on one with students.
Price your services appropriately for your market. You may choose to quote an hourly rate, a per project flat fee, a percentage of the budget for the project, or other pricing strategy. Try to put yourself in your clients' shoes to determine whether your rate is fair for what you're providing. Then calculate your costs and your required salary to determine whether that price will meet your needs.
Set up your business. You need a business license from your state, and in some states you may need licensure or professional insurance. You'll also need a business checking account, business cards and a website. You should consult with a certified public accountant (CPA) or tax accountant to help you separate your business finances from your personal finances. Consult with a lawyer to draw up the contracts you will use with your clients.
How you market your services depends upon what types of clients you chose. If your clients are schools, you may be trying to reach school administrators, who are likely to attend workshops or read informative articles. In that case, write those articles or sponsor or host workshops. A consultant must never stop selling services. Make sure everyone you know is aware of what you do and is able to convey that message to others in a few words.
Evangeline Marzec is a management consultant to small high-tech companies, and has been in the video games industry since 2004. As a published writer since 1998, she has contributed articles and short stories to web and print media, including eHow and Timewinder. She holds a Master of Business Adminstration from Thunderbird School of Global Management.