"Consultant" is the ideal job description for many young careerists. Who doesn’t want to be considered an expert and paid large amounts of money to give advice and help solve problems.
But how do you become a consultant?
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to ditch the corporate system and become a successful consultant
- Even if nobody knows who you are
- Even if you have no special skills or experience
- Without being pushy, slimy, or salesy
Our proven, 10-step method has allowed over 3,000 Consulting.com students to quit their jobs and become completely self-employed. Out of that group, over 400 are earning six figures and 24 have crossed over into seven figures.
If you have any interest in ditching the 9-5 grind and creating a career on your own terms, this is the guide for you.
(This guide is nearly 3,00 words long! If lengthy reads aren’t your thing, click below to watch our video training instead)
The 10 Steps To Becoming A Consultant
All you have to do is follow these 10 proven steps:
- Embrace The Entrepreneurial Mindset
- Identify Your Optimal Niche
- Identify A Common Problem You Can Solve
- Create Your Consulting Value Proposition
- Build Your Online Hub
- Create A Repeatable System For Attracting Leads
- Optimize Your Method For Closing Sales
- Improve Your Delivery Method
- Build Your Brand
- Evolve Your Offer
This process works. We’ve spent years perfecting it. We’ve had thousands of students test it within thousands of contexts and scenarios.
Follow these steps to learn how to become a consultant in 2018.
1. Embrace The Entrepreneurial Mindset
The first step to being successful as a consultant is embracing the entrepreneurial mindset.
Only around 14% of people will risk starting a business, and out of those, half will fail within 5 years.
In other words, to be a successful consultant, you have to be more persistent and better at solving problems than 93% of the world.
Success is unlikely.
Nobody is going to bail you out.
You figure it out or you lose.
If that excites you, you’ve embraced the entrepreneurial mindset. If that scares you, the question becomes, "What are you going to do about it?"
"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear."
― Franklin D. Roosevelt
Some people get a high from the risk. Others hate it but power through it. Both can succeed as entrepreneurs.
2. Identify Your Optimal Niche
Once you’ve embraced the right mindset, the next step is to find the niche specialization that fits you best.
The goal of a consultant is not to solve random problems for random people but rather, to solve a specific type of problem for a specific group of people.
As Consulting.com founder Sam Ovens states, "It’s hard to be the best in the world at multiple things, however it’s surprisingly easy to become the best in the world at something specific."
Andrew Argue was an accountant who wanted to become a consultant. He knew that private practice accountants struggled to grow their businesses, so he focused on helping accountants grow their business through online marketing.
There are thousands of people offering online marketing. Many are doing okay. Many are barely scraping by. By specializing on the accounting niche, Andrew was able to earn six and then seven figures within just a few years.
That’s the power of niche expertise. If you can solve a specific problem for a specific group of people, you can earn significantly more than you can as a generalist.
So how do you find your niche?
It’s a three-part equation:
- Industries you already know
- The market’s needs and desires
- Skills you have or can learn
Let’s look at each one.
A. Industries You Already Know
As a consultant, our goal is to find the most pressing problems in a niche and then solve them, and while it’s certainly possible to pull this off in a brand new industry, you are much more likely to succeed in an industry you already know and understand.
Take a moment and list out niches and industries you already have some familiarity with, whether through direct work experience, research, association, etc.
B. The Market’s Needs & Desires
The entire purpose of us focusing on industries we know is to correctly identify what the market wants. Don’t make the mistake of creating a business selling something nobody wants.
If you want to make good money as a consultant, the only thing that matters is finding what the market wants and then giving it to them.
If you know the industry, you have a good starting point, but you’ll want to dive deeper. Peruse leading publications and influencers in your niche. Read popular blog posts. Scan comments. Read the bestselling books.
What are the themes? What are people talking about? What are people asking for?
C. Skills You Have Or Can Learn
Finally, you will need to actually be able to deliver something of value. It’s not enough to know the big problems in a niche if you can’t solve them.
List out your existing skills and areas of expertise. Also list any skills that you feel capable of picking up on a relatively short timeline, as well as skills or services that you know you can outsource.
The intersection of these three piece will give you your niche.
3. Identify A Common Problem You Can Solve
Now that you’ve identified your niche, it’s time to identify THE problem that you will solve as a consultant.
To identify some of the key problems in your niche, ask the following questions:
- What do people in your niche want the most?
- What is keeping them from getting that?
- What problems are keeping them up at night?
- What issues are causing the most anger or frustration?
- What solutions are people currently investing the most money into?
Just like our niche needs to check off three boxes, the problem you focus on should check off three boxes as well:
- Affects a large number of people
- People are willing to pay a decent amount to solve the problem
- You can offer an equal or better solution to what is commonly used
Once you have your niche and key problem, it’s time to craft you consulting value proposition.
4. Create Your Consulting Value Proposition
Who are you? What are you all about? What’s your pitch? What do you do?
How do you respond to these questions? Many new consultants don’t have a good answer. They will give very vague answers like, "Well, I uh... help people with their businesses."
That's not good enough.
To become a consultant, you will need to effectively communicate the value you provide. How you pitch your "offer" is incredibly important, and you can answer all these questions effectively with a Consulting Value Proposition.
Your Consulting Value Proposition should succinctly include everything we’ve already discussed:
- The Niche
- Problem Solved
- Solution Method
Pulling from our previous example, Andrew Argue helps accountants to grow their business by training them in online lead generation.
This value statement is the core of your business. It’s the lens through which you will communicate your value in person and online.
5. Build Your Online Hub
Now that you have established who you are and what you are offering, it’s time to build your online hub.
Your online business hub should typically start with a website. Social media profiles and pages can be part of your hub, but it’s important that your primary online location business location is completely under your control, which is not the case with social pages.
If you have no web design skills and you aren’t tight on cash, simply put together a 2-3 page website using ClickFunnels. This method is fast, convenient, and positions you well for the next stage in our journey (lead generation).
If you are tight on cash, you can opt instead to create your own website using tools like Wordpress or Squarespace. This will require to learn some light web design skills, but it won’t be that difficult, and you will save a good deal of money.
In addition to your website, create social profiles on whatever platforms your niche frequents.
Whatever you do, don’t waste time or money here:
- Don’t pay someone $5,000 to build you a website.
- Don’t spend any time or money whatsoever on creating a logo.
- Don’t spend hours agonizing over social profile details.
- Get this stuff set up as quickly and painlessly as possible.
You don’t need the world-class branding of a Fortune 500 consulting firm. One of the biggest mistakes we see new entrepreneurs make is wasting tons of time and money on this type of stuff - stuff that ultimately has little influence on whether your business succeeds or not.
You can nitpick this stuff as much as you want AFTER you are consistently bringing in clients and revenue.
6. Create A Repeatable System For Attracting Leads
If you can consistently bring in leads and close sales, you can succeed in business. Period. This is probably the single most important part of starting a consulting business, and it’s what we spend the most time covering in our training.
As a consultant, your goal is to find out where your potential customers are and then create a repeatable system for attracting them to your business.
Here’s how we teach our consultants to do it:
While Facebook Advertising isn’t the only way to bring in recurring leads, it is our favorite method and the one thousands of our students have used to go full time as consultants.
Everyone is on Facebook. With over 2 Billion users, the platform can allow you to reach virtually every niche imaginable.
Here’s how our system works:
- Potential customers see a Facebook ad and click on it.
- They are taken to a landing page with a video that teaches them something valuable.
- They click to schedule a free consultation and are prompted to fill out a survey.
- You talk with them 1-to-1 and attempt to close them as a client.
There are obviously a lot of pieces to this funnel, each of which needs to be created and optimized. We spend around 50 hours just on this funnel alone in our Consulting Accelerator training.
Once you have a funnel like this in place, you can know exactly how many new clients you stand to close each month, how much it will cost to acquire them, and how much profit you will make from them.
7. Optimize Your Method For Closing Sales
Attract and close. Attract and close. As we just mentioned, our preferred method for closing sales is the 1-to-1 sales call, but that may not be the optimal method in every niche.
Just like there are alternative methods for attracting leads, there are numerous methods you can use to close sales.
- Online orders
- Inbound sales team
- Outbound sales team
- Referral network
- Affiliate sales
Perfecting your interpersonal 1-to-1 sales skills is always incredibly beneficial, and to this day, it remains one of the most effective methods we’ve seen, which is why we recommend it.
But that said, it’s your consulting practice. Find what works for you.
8. Improve Your Delivery Method
While bringing in paying clients is the most difficult challenge most consultants face, the gig isn’t over once you have the cash.
To become an independent consultant, you also need to be able to deliver the goods and solve your client’s problems. How you go about doing will determine your profit margins, earnings, referral clients, and overall brand standing.
The most important thing to focus on early is successfully solving your problem. That is your #1 objective. You don’t need to be able to personally solve it. If you can outsource the solution to someone else, that is perfectly fine, provided the client gets their problem solved in the end.
From there, your goal is to minimize your costs. You want to spend as little time and as little money as possible while still solving the problem
- If you are doing things entirely yourself, can outsourcing allow you to scale to higher earnings while freeing up your time?
- If you are currently outsourcing, can you save money by training an employee to do handle the same responsibilities?
- Can you find software that automates parts of your workflow?
- Can you turn parts of your workflow into a universal, step-by-step process that your clients can do for themselves?
Improving your delivery method is how certain consultants are able to make six and even seven figures with the same limited hours we all share.
9. Build Your Brand
When first learning how to be a consultant, branding shouldn’t be the focus. You don’t need a brand to solve problems and collect payment.
That said, by building your brand, you can increase demand for your expertise, allowing you to command higher fees for your advice and services.
There are numerous ways to build your brand. You can build an audience via social media:
You can share your advice via blog posts, videos, and live Q&As:
You can submit your accomplishments to publications and organizations that recognize consultants and entrepreneurs:
Building your brand is ongoing pursuit and will benefit you in the long run.
10. Evolve Your Offer
If you gather 100 consultants in a room and ask them to describe their "offer" you will hear a wildly diverse assortment of answers.
There are many types of consulting careers and consulting offers out there, and some are more lucrative than others. Here are the five methods we like to talk about with our Consulting.com students:
1. Done For You
It’s rare for new consultants to be able to earn money simply from offering advice. You need a track record for that.
You don’t need a track record to actually solve people’s problems. If you can provide a "done for you" service that solves a problem, you can start landing clients even with no experience and no track record. The client pays you money and then you take care of everything.
Using Andrew’s example, he would essentially be running all marketing for his accountant clients. They would pay him a monthly fee and he would bring them new clients on an ongoing basis.
2. Done With You
Once you’ve run enough successful "done for you" campaigns, you can start evolving your offer to give more responsibility to the client. You provide the strategy and do part of the work, and then the client does the rest.
Using Andrew’s example, he would provide the strategy and setup the initial campaigns and then the client would do the ongoing monitoring and split testing with the help of a once-per-month review and consultation from Andrews.
3. 1-on-1 Coaching
When clients are willing to pay you solely to teach them, you have moved from being more of a service provider to more of a consultant.
Using Andrew’s example, he would be meet with the client 1-to-1 and tell them exactly what to do to setup and run their marketing and then the client would handle the actual execution themselves.
4. Group Coaching
If you are able to generate a high enough demand for your advice, people will be willing to pay for you advice even in a non-exclusive setting. You can still offer 1-to-1 coaching at an extremely high price point, but offer a more affordable group coaching plan for the majority of clients.
Using Andrew’s example, he would have weekly group coaching calls with 10 accountants where he answers their questions and provides group training.
5. Online Programs
The most scalable option is the option that requires none of your time. If you can productize your expertise into an online training program, you can scale your income indefinitely without needing to increase your workload.
Using Andrew’s example, he would turn his accountant training into an online program and sell the program to students around the clock.
None of these methods are necessarily better than the other. They can all be scaled in different ways and come with their own upsides and downsides.
The key for you as a consultant is knowing which one you want to pursue and making sure you are actively taking steps to get there.
Your Turn: Become A Consultant
Consulting has never been more accessible. You don’t need to be famous. You don’t need a degree. You don’t even need startup capital.
With persistence and a commitment to problem solving, you can build your own successful consulting business using the 10-step method we’ve outlined today.
We hope today’s guide has helped you better understand how to become a consultant. If you’re ready to get started, sign up for our free webinar training below. We’ll dive deeper into the methodology discussed today and give you a detailed blueprint for building your own successful consulting practice in the next 42 days.