Starting a home-based business can be a very rewarding— and challenging— endeavor. For many professionals out there, becoming a consultant is the next logical step in becoming your own boss. Consultants are paid to share their expertise and knowledge to help businesses achieve goals and solve problems. No matter your industry, there are businesses, nonprofits and government agencies looking for advice from the pros on how to improve their organizations.
When starting out as a consultant, you’ll likely work out of a home office. This comes with its own set of challenges as well. You can make progress, stay productive and grow profits with these three helpful tips.
Use technology to help you work smarter
Running a home-based consulting business can be time consuming. In the beginning, you’ll be wearing many hats, from marketing to accounting. Don’t get bogged down by the admin work that could take you away from the work you love. Instead, use technology to make your workflow more effective and efficient. For example, use invoicing software that makes billing clients a breeze. The free app provided by Square, for example, even allows you to invoice customers from your phone. Working without a supervisor means there is only one person holding you accountable— you. If you need an extra push in time management and productivity, technology can help you there, too. Productivity and project management apps, like Asana, Any Do, Freedcamp, MindMeister and Google Keep, will help you stay on task. When it comes to meeting with contractors and clients, Zoom and Skype both offer free teleconferencing services. In addition, you can keep track of expenses, payroll and taxes with software like Quickbooks, Wave or Gusto.
Set up an inspiring home office
When you start your own business, setting up your home office may not seem like a priority, but having your own space to focus, concentrate and meet in person or virtually with clients is very important. The ideal situation is one where you can devote an entire room to your work-from-home needs so you can shut the door and essentially draw a line between work life and home life. You’ll want a space that is comfortable, but also inspiring. An L-shaped desk can save space in a smaller office, while a laptop desk affixed to a stationary bike or treadmill can help you stay active while working. Go for natural lighting when you can, and try to avoid lights that cause glare. Can’t decide between a laptop and a desktop? Have the best of both worlds with a laptop that can snap into a docking station, which connects it to a monitor and keyboard.
Get your name in front of clients
Just because you have decided to become a consultant doesn’t mean that clients will come beat down your door. You have to advertise yourself, so get your name out there as an industry leader, a trustworthy professional and a driven consultant with proven successes. In the past, going to networking events, taking out an ad or giving presentations at events were the only ways to make your name known. While these tried-and-true tactics are still fruitful, the internet has made it easier to get in front of potential customers. For example, you can create a LinkedIn profile and publish blog posts on topics that relate to your field. You can even spend a little money to make sure potential clients can see them. You can— and should— create a website that lists the services you provide, explains your philosophy and tells people how best to contact you.
Starting your own consulting business can be challenging, intimidating— and exciting. Set yourself up for success by setting up an inspiring home office, using technology that helps you work more efficiently, and when you’re ready, getting your name out there in front of the right people.