Step 2: Uncover the Demands of Your Target Market
Once you have identified your niche, delve into the questions, challenges, and pain points faced by businesses in your chosen area of expertise. Merely possessing a strong skill set and extensive knowledge in your field is not sufficient. If your consulting business cannot address the problems that businesses encounter, you may struggle to make progress.
The most effective way to determine the wants and needs of your market is by seeking input. Start by conducting online research to discover relevant blogs within your niche. What topics are the thought leaders discussing? Where is there significant confusion or heated debate in forums or comment sections?
You can also identify market pain points by leveraging your network. For example, if you aspire to launch a digital marketing consultancy, consider individuals who own businesses, collaborate closely with digital marketers, or are digital marketers themselves. You likely have a network of contacts, so reach out to them and inquire about the challenges they face in achieving their short and long-term goals. Then, determine how your business can provide assistance.
Step 3: Harness the Power of Organic Marketing
As an independent consultant, the responsibility falls on you to grow your client base and ensure a consistent flow of business. The most effective approach is through marketing, and organic marketing stands out as the optimal strategy.
Business owners possess two significant advantages with organic marketing. Firstly, they often have connections within their industry and can refer clients to you. Similar businesses tend to associate with one another, so if you establish a positive working relationship with someone, it's likely they will recommend you to their peers.
Secondly, organic marketing is cost-effective—it doesn't require a financial investment. I may be biased about the effectiveness of organic marketing because it's free.
Step 4: Invest in Essential Tools for Your Trade
Hopkins successfully built her business by utilizing technological tools that facilitated and maintained connections with clients, prospective employees, and her assistant. I employ three types of recruitment software, including web-based platforms that simplify job postings. MightyRecruiter, for instance, feeds job listings to prominent sites like Indeed, Monster, and LinkedIn, consolidating applicants in one space and saving time.
ZipRecruiter, on the other hand, is ideal for low-level positions. LinkedIn offers a two-tiered recruiter service for reaching out to candidates or seeking referrals. The monthly cost for MightyRecruiter is $300, while ZipRecruiter costs $1,000 annually. LinkedIn's RecruiterLite is priced at $150, and the corporate option is $700. Overall, I pay approximately $500 per month for these recruitment tools, which grant her access to a wide range of job seekers, from culinary professionals to data scientists.
Additionally, I recommend investing in video conferencing software, which costs around $200 per year, as it enhances client connections. When clients join the video conference, they get a sense of familiarity with me. They know my physical attributes, such as being 6'2", having a vibrant personality, and expressive blue eyes. Even without a physical office space, they establish a connection with me.
Besides these specialized tools, new consultants should also consider the essential requirements common to most small business owners: developing a well-designed and navigable website (around $2,000, plus $200 for hosting), ordering business cards, establishing an LLC (costs vary by state), opening a business checking account and business credit card, and hiring an accountant for bookkeeping and tax filing (approximately $700 annually for a small business).