How to Become a Business Consultant

A business consultant develops strategies to help businesses as they seek new markets, marketing strategies and financial organization. Businesses can make calculated changes without having to hire someone into a full-time position. Business consultants must choose a specialty, so that they can focus their career path and become experts that can help a business to improve. Successful business consultants have an entrepreneurial drive to create their own business and be their own boss. They must also be well-organized, be good teachers and have a social nature. Find out how to become a business consultant.

This article on how to become a business consultant.

1- Develop Business Expertise
1. Earn a bachelor's degree in your field of interest. You can choose to complete a 4-year degree in business administration, or you can specialize in accounting, finance, economics, marketing or public relations.

2. Take internships while you are in college. This will give you the work experience you need to decide the direction your career will take you. You may also be able to move up the ladder at a company faster if you have already worked in a business environment.

3. Gain work experience. Work in a corporate environment in the sales, marketing, accounting, public relations, buying or other departments. You can also choose to become a project manager, where you will learn how to strategize and complete projects according to budget, deadline and scope.

4. Return to school for your master's of business administration (MBA). In most medium to large companies, you must hold an MBA to move into management. Seek a program that is nationally ranked with high alumni involvement.

5. Work in mid and upper level management. Apply for management positions within your own company and in other companies. As a manager, you will learn to handle decisions on a macro level, while developing leadership, public speaking, organization, reporting and problem solving skills.

6. Become a member of a professional organization. These networks connect you with other companies, professionals and training opportunities. Get certifications and attend conferences to reap the benefits of this affiliation.

7. Develop successful strategies in your specialization. You need to start developing your expertise. There are a number of ways to do this that will help you to move forward with consulting in the future.

  • Be creative at your job. Take calculated risks and record your results. You will need an excellent track record to label yourself an "expert" in your field.
  • Start a blog. You can show your extensive insider knowledge by helping others in your field. Many blogs end up making money and becoming affiliated with other business organizations. A successful blog will make it easier to start your own consulting business when the time comes.
  • Write a book or ebook. If you excel in a certain skill, write a book for other professionals. Once you become a consultant, you can sell your book or offer it free with your consulting fees.
  • Become a trainer. You can begin training departments in your own company. Then, start lecturing at conferences. A mentor position can also help you to organize your expertise into a marketable product.

2- Start Business Consulting

1. Start your own business. Each state has different requirements for consulting, so call your Secretary of State to see what you need to do.

  • Apply for a professional license. Most states require a license in order to start offering consulting services. You may be required to pay a fee, gain extra training, prove your experience, take a test and pass an ethics exam.
  • File the appropriate business documents. You must decide if you will be a sole proprietor, partnership, limited liability corporation or another type of business.
  • Choose a name. You should include your type of services and possibly your legal name in your business name. File a "Doing Business As" certificate and consider filing a trademark registration with the state.
  • If you intend to have employees, you will need to file for an employment identification number and register to withhold payroll taxes for the state and federal governments.

2. Write a business plan. This document will help you to raise start up costs and create long term goals.

  • Define your target market and your competition. You should have a very good idea of who you will offer your services to and how you will target them before you quit your job to become a consultant.
  • Set your fees. Be sure to include your administrative costs in your fees, or you will not have a profitable business. Most business consultants double or triple their hourly rate after they calculate what they were making per hour at their last position. Remember that if you set fees too low, it is hard to raise them later. Businesses expect to pay a reasonable, but somewhat high, price for your expertise.

3. Focus on your finances and marketing. These 2 areas of your business plan should be planned out for at least 5 years. Overestimate your start up costs, in case of additional expenses, and seek loans or investors. Then, invest heavily in marketing during the first few years.

4. Implement your marketing strategy. Create an exceptional website, letterhead, logo and materials to give to perspective clients. The following are additional ways you can market yourself:

  • Use your blog or book. Seek more online affiliations so that you can announce your consulting business and gain access to perspective clients.
  • Attend conferences. Whenever possible, speak at them so that you can show an example of the type of help you can offer companies. Sell your books at the conferences in the exhibit hall.
  • Seek referrals from your alumni, professional organization and business contacts. Most people get their first clients from their friends. You may give a discount or free service to the first few people who help you to get started.

5. Work extremely hard for the first few years. You may find that you need to put in more than 40 hours a week as you begin the business. This hard work will reduce the risk that your business will fail within the first 5 years.