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Before you start a consulting business, it is a good idea to review your expertise and credentials in the subject matter or industry in which you wish to offer your services. You should also make an honest evaluation of your reputation within your business network as well as the industry in which you work. If you believe that you have the necessary knowledge and skills to start a consulting business, you should take steps to build your entrepreneurial skills and to develop a business plan. In some cases, it may be possible for you to take on consulting jobs while still working for an employer, provided that you are not stealing business from your current company or that company policy does not forbid you from doing this type of work. By taking up side projects before quitting your job, you may be better able to decide whether a consulting business is the right decision while also continuing to earn a steady paycheck.
Many of your potential clients are most likely to hire you if they are confident that you have a significant level of expertise and a unique perspective that can help their businesses grow and thrive. If you want to start a consulting business, do not be shy or reticent about stating your credentials. You will need to establish that you know what you are talking about and that you can help a client put your knowledge to work in his business. When putting together your business marketing materials, be sure to state your credentials, including certifications and licenses, school certificates and degrees, as well as any honors or awards that you have received. In addition, if you have published work or have been featured in media stories, you should provide references to these resources.
When you feel that it's time to start a consulting business, be sure to let your business and social contacts know about your new venture. Although you may not receive a lot of business from your personal contacts, these people may be able to let others know about your services. This can particularly be true if you have had a very positive business relationship with somebody whom you know from your current or previous employment. This person may continue to work with your previous employer, but have no problem referring you to her friends throughout the industry.
Other ways to kickstart your business are to take out advertising in industry magazines and newspapers. You may also wish to write and submit articles to these publications in order to demonstrate your knowledge and make people aware of your availability as a consultant. Finally, make a point of attending and participating in industry conventions and trade shows. These are great places to learn more about your field, to network with others, and to get the word out about your services.
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