So you have decided that the time has come where you want to share your knowledge and expertise with others by going into business as a consultant. If you are a first-time entrepreneur, this can be a scary feat. If this is not your first business venture, there are still areas that can be worrisome. But becoming a consultant can be very fulfilling. Become knowledgeable in the area you want to specialize in, run your service as a professional business, and you will prosper. There are many nonprofit and for-profit businesses that can use your services.
Choose your specialization. The best way to market your business is to show that you are an expert in one or two areas. It is extremely difficult for a person to master all subject areas, so if you claim to do so, it will deter people and businesses from using your services. Once you have determined your niche, research and read about the area frequently to stay active and up-to-date in your knowledge.
Choose a business entity. You can operate as a sole proprietorship or as a partnership with other consultants. You can incorporate. Select a business name. The name should be memorable, easy to say and not too lengthy. It should also explain what your business does--for example, it could be your name with the word "Consultancy" next to it. Whatever name you choose, keep it consistent on all your business documents, tax filings and other paperwork.
Choose a location. You can be a home-based business to keep costs low, or you can rent an office suite. Choose the option that works best for your budget and lifestyle. You can also upgrade, but realize that when you do, you have to change your business address on your business cards, website, letterhead and business documents.
Register your business with the city. A consulting business does not need any special license if it is a DBA (“Doing Business As”), but it must be registered through the local town or city hall. If it is a corporation, it can be registered by the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Apply for an employment identification number (EIN) with the IRS. Register with the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR). This department deals with tax reporting.
Open a business bank account. It is important for tax reasons to keep your business income separate from your personal income. Establishing a good relationship with the bank is important if you should need a business loan in the future. Banks will need your EIN and business documents to set up your account.
Market your business to obtain clients. People will not know you are a consultant or your area of expertise if you do not promote your services. Make sure to get professional business cards and a website. Cold-calling is an approach to obtaining new clients. Do not forget to promote your consultant service to your friends, families and former employers. Register with your local Chamber of Commerce, which can provide a valuable resource for networking with other businesses.
Najla A.Y. Slowe is a recent M.B.A. graduate from Strayer University. She started writing in undergraduate school at the Fashion Institute of Technology as a staff writer for W27. She has over 10 years of marketing-related experience.