Starting an online consulting business is a good idea to keep costs low, and it gives you the most freedom when working with clients. You don't have to drive to in-person meetings, or rent a conference room to consult, the way you might if you were running a traditional consulting business from home. Think through the following components of an online consulting business, before you start yours:
Decide on an Online Consulting Business
You may have many areas of expertise, which makes choosing a niche difficult to do. Don't confuse prospective and existing customers by trying to be everybody's consultant. Decide what consulting business to do, and discipline yourself to stay in that industry. Some fields that are proven or emerging are:
- Emergency preparedness
- Weight loss
- Public relations
The business you choose should align with your experience, expertise and skills. If you don't have all three, then don't work as a consultant in that industry. Choose another role until you acquire these three things.
Write an Online Consulting Business Plan
There's a myth that you only need a business plan if you're seeking financing. That's not true in all cases. Savvy business owners who have no interest in outside sources of funding write business plans to give them direction in their businesses. You'll do well if you write one for your online consulting business. It should include your start up costs, a marketing plan and a technology plan to help you manage a team in the future and to deliver work to clients online. Yahoo! or some other email program is not going to be enough technology in your business. The plan should also include financial statements, such as cash flow and income projections.
Buy Malpractice or Errors and Omissions Insurance
You might miss the mark with a client and give the wrong advice. The other mistake consultants make is failing to give full advice, and clients get upset when you omit information. Your license to practice is at risk, if you have one, if you're accused of negligence. Malpractice insurance protects you in lawsuits brought against you in either scenario, by paying damages and offering legal counsel to defend you. Errors and omissions are appropriate when you don't have a license to protect. It works the same way as malpractice insurance. Any insurance company that sells business insurance should offer both types of insurance.
Open for Business Online
Launch a website that will do more than market your online consulting business. It should have the capability to communicate directly with clients, and take requests for free and paid consultations. For example, you can have a "Clients Area" on the website for clients to log in and view milestones in a project you're working on, see all email communications, and read relevant research and information that you find for them. A web developer can help you create this if you don't have the technological know-how.
Starting an online consulting business is easier than ever before with all the technology available. There's more competitors as a result, and your job is to stand out from the pack.
Daphne Mallory, Esq. is the co-owner of Mallory Writing Services and has written more than 100 articles helping home based business owners and entrepreneurs start and market their business. You can learn more about her here.