The Ultimate Guide to
Starting and Building a Consulting Business

Proven Step-by-Step Strategies and Systems to
Start and Build a Thriving Six- and Seven-Figure
Consulting Business

The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Consulting Business has the strategies, systems, and insights for anyone starting a consulting business or building their consulting business into a thriving six- and seven-figure business. As someone new to consulting this is your map to starting and building a thriving consulting business. As an experienced consultant, this guide will show you how to accelerate your consulting business and create more independence.

The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Consulting Business shows you the proven strategies, systems, and tools covered in the videos, guides, and consulting community of the Starting and Building a Thriving Consulting Business course. 

Consulting is one of the most profitable and satisfying careers available when you build your business correctly. This guide and resources will help you build a thriving consulting business that is satisfying and profitable.

Almost all experts find it takes much longer than they thought to build their consulting business. Even experienced, practicing consultant gets trapped in a loop of feast-or-famine that drives them to work too hard, then face periods of no clients. This guide shows you the systems, strategies, and tools to keep your consulting business from those problems.

Start Your Consulting Business with Guidance

The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Consulting Business has guidance and tips on the business and marketing systems that take you from startup to a six-figure or seven-figure consulting business. If you are a practicing consultant, this guide will help you build proven systems that keep your prospect pipeline full. It shows you how to build the recurring revenue you need for a stable income and greater independence.

The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Consulting Business is based on 30+ years experience consulting with Global 1000 and Fortune 1000 companies, two years researching average and high-income solo-professionals, and the proven systems demanded by investors in Silicon Valley startups.

What is Consulting

What is Consulting? The Lifestyle, Earnings, and Satisfaction

The business of consulting is straightforward – as a consultant, you use your expertise and experience to help others make decisions, solve problems, and sometimes execute the plan.

Having been an independent consultant for 30+ years, I can say that in “most cases,” consulting is a lot of fun. It’s intellectually exciting and challenging, and when done right, it produces a great sense of contribution combined with high income and personal independence.

Average consultants earn more than their peers in industry and boast a higher job satisfaction rate as well. High earning consultants are off the charts in earnings and in job satisfaction rates.

The purpose of this guide and the Starting and Building a Thriving Consulting Business course is to show you how to be a high earning, high satisfaction independent consultant.

Learn more about the consulting lifestyle, earnings and satisfaction…

The Stages of Starting and Building Your Six- and Seven-Figure Consulting Business

There are many great reasons to become a consultant. There are few business opportunities with such high potential and low risk for someone who has prepared well. And, it provides a great independent lifestyle.

To Be Successful, Consulting Requires Very Low Capital Investment, But It Does Require High Business or Technical Skills Combined with Proven Business and Marketing Systems.

A consulting business’ growth usually occurs in stages that build upon each other. Some consultants skip a stage but later find their business stalls or fails, and they have to rebuild their foundation to create the stage they missed.

This guide and the course help you through each stage of building a thriving consulting business. Click to jump to a stage description,

1. Finding Your Best Consulting Niche Ideas

2. Knowing and Finding Your Ideal Consulting Clients

3. Promoting Your Consulting Services

4. Filling Your Pipeline and Selling Consulting Services

5. Calculating and Setting Consulting Rates

6. Crafting Consulting Retainers and Proposals that Win

7. Marketing Your Consulting Services: The Best Website, LinkedIn Connections and Email Sequences

8. Building Multiple Streams of Income with Packaged and Productized Consulting Services

Starting a consulting business is far easier and far more profitable when you find a niche where you can make a valuable impact and can become known.

The Riches are In the Niches!

You want to select one or more niches where,

  • You have high purpose, interest, or passion
    The niche has high-value, bottom line problems
  • You have solutions to one or more of those high-value problems
    The niche wants to pay for your solutions
  • The niche is large or rapidly growing
  • The niche has consulting or functional competitors 
  • You can create a unique brand or defensible position 

While you can guess about which niche is best, the wrong guess could waste years of your life and lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost opportunities.

Finding the right niche may sound daunting, but there are proven steps you can take to find a niche that gives you great income and independence.

Using a little research and a grid to match your skills and impact to niches is a much better approach. It also enables you to validate the niche before spending too much time and map how you can expand once you are in a niche.

Learn more about finding a rewarding niche…

Customer Needs Research

2. Finding Your Ideal Consulting Client and Learning Their Pain

To build a thriving consulting business, you must know how to find your ideal prospect and be able to talk with them about their pain and its impact. If you are going to do that effectively, you need to know exactly how to identify perfect prospects and where to find them. As a solo-consultant, you can’t waste time on leads that will never become clients.

To Connect with Your Ideal Client You Must Know
How to Describe Them and the Pain They Need Healed. 

Some of the criteria we use to identify and find a perfect prospect are their industry, seniority, job title, years of experience, geographic area, and size of business. With key criteria like that and the right search techniques, it’s easy to build a list of prospects by networking or database searches.

Knowing who your prospects are is only the first part of knowing your clients. Once you find them, you must also know their important problems, how those problems impact their organization and how you can talk about those problems.

Learn more about finding your ideal clients and knowing their pains…

Mission Vision Brand

3. Promoting Your Consulting Services

As a great consultant, you must give prospects two things to turn them into eager clients. The first is a vivid image of how great life will be when their problem is solved. The second is confidence that you can solve their problem. Talking about your tools and methods won’t win a client.

Great Consultants Give Their Clients an Image of a Better Life
and the Confidence They Can Take Them There.

When you promote your consulting services, you need a personal and professional brand that quickly gives prospects the confidence you can solve their problems. Your brand represents this trust and authority.

Your Brand is Not a Slogan or Logo.
Your Brand is the Trust and Authority You Build.

Your brand precedes you. It should create an aura, so people quickly know the types of clients you help and how you help them.

Memorable brands have a clear message and support from many elements. As a consultant, there are a few key branding elements you must have to start.

Learn more about how to promote your consulting services…

04 Get Clients Quickly

4. Getting Consulting Clients Quickly

“Filling the Pipeline” is arguably the most important thing a consultant can do next to delivering great consulting services. You will soon face the dreaded “Feast-or-Famine” cycle if you depend upon just the referrals you gathered during startup. You need a system to keep your pipeline full.

There is a whole smorgasbord of methods for filling your prospect pipeline. Whichever style you prefer, writing, speaking, or networking, there are well-defined methods you can build into a pipeline-filling system. No matter which method you use for filling your pipeline, you must create a consistent, reproducible system you continue to use.

You Must Either Work Constantly on Filling the Pipeline
or Create a Marketing Machine that Does that Automatically.

What may be the scariest moment for most consultants is actually “closing a client.” Asking someone to hire you feels like you are forcing them to make a judgment about your value and pushing them to spend money. It’s a terrible feeling – unless you remember the real purpose behind your consulting.

Closing a client doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. You need to remember two things. First, your purpose is to heal their pain. Second, don’t try to “sell them.” Just use your natural consulting skills of questioning to lead a prospect into asking you, “When can you start?”

Consultative selling is a proven method that comes naturally to most consultants.

Learn more about getting clients quickly...

Calculating and Setting Consulting Rates

5. Calculating and Setting Consulting and Retainer Fees

You can win new clients, deliver high value, and have an impressive brand and still not create a thriving, successful consulting business. You must price your offerings, so you are profitable if you want to stay in business and grow. At the same time, you must be competitive. Your fees must be appropriate for the value you deliver and still beat your competition. Setting your consulting fees is a tough job.

Setting Consulting Fees is a Tough Job,
But You Don’t Have to Guess, There is a Scientific Approach.

Many consultants start consulting by charging an hourly rate. The danger in hourly rates is that you become categorized as a freelancer and not a consultant. Unless you are very careful, hourly work puts you into a commodity business that drives everyone toward ever-smaller rates. Avoid hourly rates if you want to build higher income and independence as a consultant.

You don’t have to guess at fees. Instead, use a well-designed consulting fee or retainer fee calculator for calculating a realistic fee range. A good calculator accounts for project estimates and business overheads and balances that against competitive rates.

Learn more about setting consulting fees to win clients and increase profitability…

Proposals Contracts

6. Writing Consulting Retainers and Proposals that Win

While every consulting assignment is different, they all include a few important pieces of paperwork. The paperwork is for far more than just legal issues. You can boost your income and increase productivity with documents that define responsibilities, deliverables, tasks, times, and more.

Accelerate your business with templates for frequently used legal and project documents. You can save time using proven templates for proposals, retainer agreements, and Statements of Work.

Learn more about writing consulting retainers, proposals and Statements of Work…

Marketing Consulting Services

7. Marketing Your Consulting Services

​When you first start consulting, it takes personal time with speaking, writing, and networking to fill your pipeline. Although this brings in clients, you can never let up. You have to continually hustle. This is exhausting, but there is a better way.

Once your consulting business is working, you want to build a marketing machine that automatically keeps you your pipeline full. A marketing machine will automatically and continuously bring in qualified leads and prospects to fill your pipeline.

A Well-Designed Marketing Machine Creates a
Steady Stream of Clients for Your Consulting Services.

A great marketing machine does three things: it attracts a lot of leads, turns leads into prospects, and builds trust and authority. What it should not do, once you have it running, is require a lot of your time.

To create a smoothly running marketing machine, use proven software, scripts, and templates. You can research and test these yourself or build your machine with guidance in the Starting and Building a Thriving Consulting Business course. 

As a solo consultant or boutique consulting business, you don’t have extra time. It is critical that you create a marketing workflow that leverages each main asset you create so you can use it for other marketing. An example would be using a Cornerstone page as the foundation for a white paper, LinkedIn articles, LinkedIn posts, and blogs. (You never want to duplicate, but you can leverage when done correctly.)

Build the right marketing machine with the right workflow, and your marketing will explode with power!

Learn more about how to market your consulting services...

Multiple Streams of Income

8. Creating Multiple Streams of Income

One of the greatest benefits of independent consulting is independence and the opportunity to make high six- or seven-figure incomes through multiple streams of income. Packaging and productizing your consulting gives you a chance to work when you want, where you want, and with whom you want.

Building Multiple Streams of Income from Packaged Consulting Services Gives You Greater Independence and Income.

If you build your consulting business, so your clients depend solely upon you, then you have defeated one of the advantages of solo consulting, your independence. You also are limiting how great a contribution you can make to the world.

Older consulting models depend upon you working in your business and at your client. You are trading personal hours for income. The old model pushes consultants to work longer hours and increase their income by trying to expand the scope of work in the client. This drives you to work longer hours, limits how many people and businesses you can impact, and may not be ethical to the client.

Newer consulting models leverage your consulting services to create products that don’t depend upon on-site hours. “Solo Scaling” delivers your value through a broad portfolio of services and products across multiple channels.