How to start a Consulting Business on the side and grow it: Side Hustle
Looking for how to start a consulting business on the side and grow it as a successful side hustle? Then read this guide on how to do it step by step and make money.
If you are good at something, don’t do it for free. – The Joker
Do your friends flock around you asking you for advice about a certain topic?
Do your colleagues want to run some of their ideas by you, even if they don’t have to?
If yes, you know you are good at that ‘something’.
It could be anything from business writing to digital marketing, accounting, lead generation, or something design related.
And when you are good at something, take the cinematic supervillain’s advice and don’t do it for free.
By starting a consulting business, you can make money by providing expert advice and guiding people in the niche that you excel in. And that’s possible even if you are working a 9-to-5.
Ready to start your consulting side hustle? Here’s the primer you need to get started with your consulting business in 2022 and begin making a decent stream of income on the side.
Let’s get straight to it.
Step 1: Find if your expertise has a market
Being great at something doesn’t always mean you can make a business out of it.
I, for example, am great at peeling potatoes (my mom said that!). However, there isn’t a way for me to use my potato peeling expertise to start a consulting gig on the side.
So, the first step towards setting up a consulting business is knowing your marketable expertise.
Start by listing all the things you are good at. Out of the options select the ones that you can guide/consult people about. Then zero down on the ones that people will pay for.
Once you have found your marketable expertise, it is time to look around and research the consultancy industry and market too.
As a part of the market analysis, consider the following factors:
- How much is the demand for your service? If people don’t want your service, no matter how great you are at it, you won’t be able to make money. So, you need to know whether or not people are looking for consultation services in your area of expertise.
- How much are people willing to pay for your consultation? Your main purpose behind establishing a side hustle is to earn money, right? What if the amount of money you can make with your consulting business is not enough? That would be counterintuitive. To avoid that, make sure you understand how much people are willing to pay for what you have on offer. Consider the standard market rates and then try to see if that is enough to fund your dreams.
- How saturated is the market? Markets with too many competitors and cut-throat competition are tough to penetrate. Check how saturated your intended market is. If the competition is too high, it will be tough to gain ground while not working full-time. Such markets are not ideal for setting up side gigs.
Step 2: Decide your consulting model
One of the biggest benefits of a consulting side hustle is that you get to choose your working model. Based on what suits you better you can pick one of the below listed consulting models for your business.
The primary models that you can choose from include:
- The solo consulting model
Exactly as the name suggests, in the solo consulting model, you are the only one who works with your clients and does the consulting.
The primary pro of this model is that it gives you the liberty to decide when to be open for business and when not. Also, you can bank on your personal brand to get clients and you can mainly work and earn from home.
However, remember that if you are a solo consultant, you won’t be able to stop working to let others take charge while you count cash. The clients are all in because of you and your business image is also closely tied to your own.
- Consulting firm setup
If you are comfortable with managing people and overseeing the overall activities of an organization, you can start your consulting firm. Such a setup will include consultants other than yourself, and you will be responsible for not just working with clients but a lot more.
For a side hustle, this might be too hectic. However, the plus point is that once established a consulting company would be able to make money even without you. That way, you can get a constant inflow of money without even having to work.
- Productized consulting model
If you can turn your expertise into a standardized product, you can start a productized consulting model. For example, say you are willing to offer digital marketing consultancy.
Now if instead of curating custom digital marketing guidelines or plans for every client, imagine a standardized roadmap that can be used by any organization to get worthwhile results.
If you can make that happen, you can sell your clients the same productized version of your expertise. This way, you will have to only focus on getting clients and collecting pay checks. However, remember that not every expertise can be converted into a product. And if not done right, your clients won’t get the expected results which would, in turn, be detrimental to your side business too.
Step 3: Figure out finances
Finance is the lifeblood of any organization.
Unless you have money matters sorted out, you cannot succeed in your consulting business. Here are the things you need to consider from the financial side:
- How much money do you need to start the business? This will depend on the model you choose, and the marketing means you choose.
- How will you charge your clients? Will you accept milestone-based payments, one-time lumpsum payments, or charge a monthly retainer fee?
- Will you show your income as your individual earnings, or will you set up a separate business enterprise? More on that in the legal section.
- Who will manage the accounting part of your business? If you plan on doing it yourself, check whether you qualified for that or not.
- How much of your business income would you keep for yourself and how much would you plough back into the firm?
Step 4: Look for legal advice
Setting up a business, even as a side hustle has legal repercussions.
To begin with, you will have to see if your current employer allows you to have alternative sources of income.
The next step would be to register your business. Being a solo entrepreneur or registering a limited liability company (LLC) is the best option. If you have a partner, you can also go for a partnership business or a limited liability partnership (LLP).
It is important to get legal advice regarding such matters so that you don’t land in hot soup later on.
Step 5: Get online
Once you have decided on the basic setup of your consulting business, it is time to get online. No matter what consultancy model you have chosen, the ideal way to get clients is to find them online.
Why? According to Beroe’s market study consulting firms that go digital provide their clients with a modern and convenient way of tapping into their services and often people looking for consultations want to remain flexible.
And it appears that not many consultancy firms have made the digital transformation happen, so you should use this at your advantage.
So, for that, you first need a website. No, no, don’t panic. You can now build a website for yourself and your small consulting business without hiring web developers.
How? With easy-to-use, drag-and-drop, and what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) website builders like WordPress.
Worried about the cost and complications? We have the solutions and resources right here.
- Get cheap yet reliable WordPress hosting with an easy-to-use admin panel here.
- Find affordable domain names with varied extension options here.
- Pick a custom, professional email for your business to build trust here.
- Find a step-by-step website building guide right here.
Step 6: Market your consulting services and onboard your first client
Once your website is up and running all, you must do is market it to start landing clients.
For that you can:
- Hire digital marketing freelancers or agencies
- Get paid digital ads services
- Get SEO services to get organic rankings and qualified traffic
Don’t want to spend money on paid platforms and still want your website to attract customers? Learn marketing yourself and apply it to your business.
Here is a step-by-step, actionable guide that you can check out.
Other ways to land your first client:
- Word of mouth publicity. Become a walking-talking ad for your business and make sure you talk to as many people about your business as possible.
- Referral channel. If you have helped some of your friends, family, or acquaintances before you can ask them for referrals. They can probably introduce you to others looking for consulting services that you can offer.
Step 7: Continue growing and scaling
Once you have found your first client, it is time to start working for them. And also, towards finding more clients.
For that, you will have to invest some time, resources, and effort.
Free business listings can be a great way to begin growing. Such listing can be used to increase visibility and get prospective customers to walk toward you with pay checks in their hands.
For a quick boost, however, online marketing services, especially Google Ads can be leveraged.
Take the plunge today
The distance between your dreams and reality is called action.
So don’t wait anymore, act now and don’t let later become never as a side hustle business is the perfect starting point. You have the guide you need, and you have SeekaHost’s support for getting your consulting business up and online to kickstart your side hustle and make money even as a beginner. Get started today and let those bucks walk into your life.