In this guide, I’m going to show you how to start a consulting business and land your first high-ticket client in the next 42 days.
Because the job market is changing.
More than 53 million Americans — over 34% of the US workforce — are currently doing independent, freelance-style work. Forbes estimates this number will increase to over 50% by 2020.
For many of these individuals, it’s by necessity. Full-time jobs are disintegrating. High-paying jobs are harder and harder to find.
But there’s a silver lining.
The gig economy is bigger than it’s ever been, and as businesses employ fewer and fewer full-time employees, they are depending more and more on independent contractors and consultants to fill in the gaps.
On top of this, consulting is more lucrative than it’s ever been. According to Forbes, the consulting industry is worth a whopping $100 billion per year and is predicted to grow around 80% per year over the next few years.
Simply put, there’s never been a worse time to be an employee, and there’s never been a better time to start your own consulting business.
In this guide, I’ll be providing you with everything you need to start your own profitable consulting business:
- Even if nobody knows who you are
- Even if you have no special skills or experience
- Without being pushy, slimy, or salesy
The framework we will cover today is the exact framework I used to grow my own consulting business to $20 million in revenue in just four years, and become a Forbes 30 Under 30 Entrepreneur.
More importantly, the methods we will discuss today allowed me to completely change my life.
I got out of debt. I stopped having to struggle to pay bills. I no longer had my destiny controlled by someone else. I was finally able to grab the steering wheel in my life and career, and that’s the main thing I hope to leave you with today.
Let’s get started.
(This guide is over 5,000 words long! If lengthy reads aren’t your thing, click below to watch our video training instead)
What Is Consulting And Why Is it So Lucrative?
I believe that a consulting business is unquestionably the best type of business you can launch in 2018.
But why? What is a consulting business? And what makes consulting so lucrative?
There are a lot of misconceptions about consulting. People often think that to be a consultant, you need special credentials, a fancy office, a posh suit, and a professional consulting business plan. They think you need to have staff and the ability to make in-person appointments with big businesses.
Sometimes they think that consulting is only for enterprise businesses: stuff like supply chain management, management, IT, HR and other really formal, stale business things.
But none of this is true.
In reality, the definition of consulting is really simple. The Oxford dictionary defines it as “engaged in the business of giving expert advice to people working in a specific field.”
That’s pretty simple. Expert advice + a specific field.
In other words, to build a consulting business, all you really need to do is focus on helping a specific group of people solve the problems they are facing.
Everyone has a problem they want solved. The more important the problem being solved, the more people are willing to pay to have it solved. And the more money your target field has to spend, the more they will gladly pay to solve the problems they are facing.
The problem might be something you’d expect, like how to scale an accounting business:
Or it might be something else entirely, like overcoming porn addiction:
Best of all, the consulting business model itself is a breeze.
With consulting, you can start immediately with just a cellphone and a laptop.
A lot of other businesses, like eCommerce, require a lot more from you. You’ve got to have all this software and physical products to sell or dropship. It’s pretty complicated and it requires a fair amount of capital up front.
With consulting, you can call someone, sell your service, and immediately collect payment. No product needed. No overhead to pay. No capital required.
And unlike many other business models, the margins are quite high, with plenty of cash flow from day one.
Sell a product for $100 and you might make $20. Sell a consulting package for $1,000 and you’ll probably keep $800. Few businesses can claim such high margins.
And while I typically like to stick to the data, the reality is that consulting is incredibly rewarding on an emotional level. Getting paid to give advice is quite affirming, and watching your clients succeed thanks to your advice is unbelievably satisfying.
Just check out our Consulting.com reviews database and watch some of these videos. When you are good at what you do, you get to watch your clients succeed time and time again... and it’s incredibly fulfilling.
But enough about “why”. Let’s talk about “how”.
The Only 4 Things Needed To Start A Consulting Business
Once you begin to understand something, you often discover that it’s much simpler than you expected. This is especially true in the consulting industry.
As I mentioned earlier, you don’t actually need special credentials, a fancy office, a posh suit, or a professional consulting business plan.
So what do you need?
The truth is that you only need four things to start your consulting business and quickly grow it to six figures and beyond.
- A compelling offer that provides value
- A well-populated niche of potential clients
- A repeatable system for attracting clients
- A rewired mentality
Want to know how to start a consulting business?
That’s it. That’s all you need.
And by the end of this guide, you’ll have a detailed framework for each one.
1. Successful Consultants Have A Compelling Value Proposition
One of the most important lessons anyone can learn in business is how to create value. Until you understand how to create value, you’ll never have anything worthwhile to sell.
So how do we create value as consultants?
Right now, everyone on Earth has a current situation or state. They exist today within a certain environment and with a certain set of circumstances, attributes, limitations, and opportunities.
And no matter what that state of being looks like, part of being human is not being fully satisfied with the present situation. Every human being on Earth desires to improve in some way... often in many different ways, shapes and forms.
What this ultimately means is that every human on Earth has a current state of existence AND a desired state of existence, with a gap in between the two states.
This gap is the motivation behind all human behavior. People invest hours upon hours of their lives laboring to earn money so they can then purchase things they believe will get them closer to their desired state.
This is how the global economy ticks. It’s the reason people do what they do.
As a consultant, your job is simply to help people bridge the gap. The value you bring to the table is the ability to help someone move from their current state to their desired state.
And people will happily pay you for this for one of three reasons:
- They have been unsuccessful in getting there on their own.
- They want to get there faster.
- They want guidance from someone who has been there, done that.
Let’s say you’ve been running a small business for three years, and you’ve been unable to cross six figures in net profit. You’ve tried a number of different growth strategies, and they’ve all failed. Or perhaps you’ve been getting $5,000 close each year, but you want to go faster.
At this point, you can either keep investing your free time and capital in guessing, experimenting, and hoping something works... OR you can bring in someone with a proven system for scaling small businesses... someone who has already helped 20 businesses just like yours double their net profit within a six-month timeline.
That’s the value of consulting, and it’s a no-brainer.
Everybody wants to reach their desired state. If you can help them bridge the gap, whether it looks like scaling a business, losing weight, or overcoming porn addiction, you can build a highly profitable consulting business.
You don’t need to come up with your own consulting business ideas.
Your goal is find a specific, significant challenge that people are ALREADY facing and then become an expert at helping them overcome that challenge. And as long as there are people wanting to solve that problem, there will be a lucrative demand for your services.
Often, the value you provide will come from personal experience. If you’ve “been there, done that”, it’s very easy to help people follow in your footsteps.
But it’s not mandatory that you have personally encountered the challenge. In some cases, outside views are the most accurate. As long as you can help real people overcome a challenge, you can get paid as a consultant regardless of how you develop your method.
2. Successful Consulting Businesses Target A Specific Niche
Let me ask you a question.
If your #1 goal for the next year was to lose 50 pounds, who would you rather have helping you?
- A personal trainer who specializes in helping people lose weight quickly
- A life coach who helps people reach their goals
It’s a no-brainer. We want the specialist.
Because they have devoted their entire career to specializing in the ONE thing we most want help with.
The life coach may be fantastic. They might be really good at what they do. But there is zero chance they are better at helping people lose weight than someone whose career is focused on that specific area of expertise.
That’s the power of niche expertise, and it’s something that virtually most successful consulting businesses (and 100% of successful Consulting.com students) have in common. You will never become really good at helping everyone, but you can become amazing at helping one specific type of person.
Successful consulting businesses target a specific niche.
And the big money in consulting, the REALLY big money, comes when you become known as THE king or queen of your specific mountain.
When you are at the top of your niche, generalist consultants are no longer your competition. They don’t stand a chance. Prospects will literally beg you to work with them at any price, and you get to pick and choose who you work with.
Instead of needing to deliver a time-consuming service, you will be paid simply to offer your advice, and you will get paid significantly more than competing service providers, because YOU are the go-to expert in your specific area.
So with that said, let’s define your niche. What mountain are you going to climb?
To answer that, you need to answer three questions:
- What industries do you already know?
- What are the market’s needs and desires?
- What skills do you already have?
Overlapping your answers to these three questions is how we discover your niche.
A. What industries do you already know?
The first thing to think about is the industries you know about or are interested in. What are you most familiar with thanks to your career and past experiences in general? Are there any niches or areas that you have always been really fascinated with and explored on an amateur basis?
Grab a pen and paper, and write down five industries, niches, or groups you know right now. Examples: plumbers, newlywed couples, young women experiencing binge eating issues, accountants, etc.
B. What are the market’s needs and desires?
Next, you’ve got to think about the market’s needs and desires. What do real people in these niches want and need? What are the main challenges they are struggling with? What are the questions they are always asking?
You will likely need to get outside of your own head in order to figure this out. You will know you’ve done this exercise properly when you can accurately write a day in your prospect’s diary and have them mistake it for their own writing.
Don’t waste time trying to come up with your own consulting business ideas. IT NEVER WORKS!
Got the market and ask them.
- Start by reading the top ten blogs in your niche. Tools like BuzzSumo can help you locate these blogs.
- Look for the most popular posts on those blogs. What topics do they cover? What questions are they answering?
- Now go to the comments section. What are people saying? What are they arguing about?
- Now go to Amazon.com and find out what the top ten books are in your niche. Buy them. Read them. What are they talking about? Why are they popular?
- Now find out who the top ten influencers are in your niche. What are they saying? What are they doing that drives the most engagement?
C. What skills do you already have?
The third thing to think about is your own set of skills and talents. What skills do you have? What are you talented at and could master fairly quickly? What are some things you have wanted to try and feel like you could pick up easily?
You want to take inventory of your current skill set first to see if you can use it to solve people’s problems. But don’t stress if you don’t currently have the skill set.
Let’s say I choose plumbers as the industry I’m going to help, and then I look at the needs and desires of plumbers, and I research their niche, and I find out they need help getting clients — specifically, hot water cylinder repair clients. Now I can see the niche. Now I can see their problem, and there’s a true market need there. But I need the skills to actually help the plumbers get clients.
That’s how it could line up. A lot of people think if they don’t have the skills necessary to help that particular niche solve the problem they have, it’s game over. They think, “I can’t do this,” and they don’t even try.
But honestly, figuring out the “how” of solving the problem is quite easy once you know what the problem is. There are so many available options, and starting a consulting business with no experience is not out of the question.
You can teach yourself how to solve the problem by learning online lead generation. Or you could find someone else who is an expert at online lead generation and learn from them. You could even outsource the solution to an online marketing agency and charge a markup.
It’s not about knowing everything. It’s about finding a niche, finding the problems that niche is facing, and then getting those problems solved.
The overlap of these three things is your niche. This is where you are most potent and most powerful.
A lot a people believe the most important things in business are the skills you have. We live in a generation where people are going to university for like 20 years and getting all of these different letters to put behind their name.
They get a PhD and XYZ, and then they get out of school with insane amounts of debt and can’t even find a job. They have no real-world skills, and no way to take their own destiny by the horns.
The market doesn’t care about your skills. The market doesn’t care about you at all.
The market only cares about its own needs and desires.
If you want to succeed in business, find out what the market wants and give it to them.
And as a final note, how you communicate the value you bring is very important. I ask consultants what they do all the time, and they often give very vague answers like, “Well, I uh... help people with their businesses.”
That’s not good enough.
Here’s a template for your niche value proposition:
For example, you could say, “I help women who suffer from binge eating to become free of binge eating by the end of my six-week coaching program.”
Or you could say, “I help plumbers get hot water cylinder repair clients using Google AdWords.”
Or, “I help local businesses double their monthly clients within six months using local SEO.”
The whole point of choosing a niche and solving those problems is that you have a specific value proposition to offer, so be sure to communicate your new value proposition in specific
3. Successful Consulting Businesses Have A Repeatable System For Attracting Clients
So, we’ve covered how to create value and how to pick your niche, but we’re not quite done.
Now we need to go out, present our offer to potential clients, and close deals.
A lot of new business owners have no game plan for making this happen. They practice what I call “hope marketing”:
- They show up to the office every morning simply hoping the phone will ring.
- They attempt “random acts of marketing” based on the latest fads they hear about.
- They have no clue where their next client will come from.
- They feel like they are on a rollercoaster, never knowing when to expect feast or famine.
- Even in the good season, there is a constant worry about sustaining the business.
Quite frankly, this is a really horrible, emotionally draining place to be. I’ve been there myself, and it absolutely sucks.
When you run your business this way, you are essentially gambling your financial future on worse odds than you’d get at a Vegas casino.
If you want to run a successful consulting business, you must use a proven, rinse and repeat process for attracting and converting clients.
Great... so how do we do that?
Here at Consulting.com, we teach a proven system designed specifically for acquiring high-ticket consulting clients. This is a process that I spent years refining and mastering in my own consulting business, and we have further improved it over the course of training 10,000+ students in this system and analyzing their results.
Here’s the framework we use:
Now, keep in mind that we spend three weeks and around 50 hours’ worth of video teaching this process in our online consulting training. Every piece of this process involves a different skill set that has to be mastered or outsourced to someone who knows what they are doing.
So while we can’t make you an expert in the next ten minutes, we can and will break down this process for you, so you know EXACTLY what you need to do to land clients moving forward.
Let’s get started.
We call the type of system pictured above a “funnel”, and it allows us to transform client acquisition from a guessing game to a simple math calculation.
Here’s what I mean.
Let’s say I spend $500 on Facebook ads, which results in 500 people visiting my landing page. Out of that 500 people, 165 people sign up for my training, and after watching my value video, 16 schedule a call with me and fill out my survey.
I speak with 16 people on the phone and 3 end up purchasing my services at $800 each.
What does this mean?
It means that at ANY time, I can spend $500 on Facebook ads and make $2,400 in revenue. In other words, I can make $1,900 in profit on repeat, as often as I please.
And that’s not all.
What if I want to make even more? I have numerous ways to increase my profit:
- I can optimize my Facebook ads to get more than one visitor per $1 spent.
- I can optimize my landing page to convert more than 33% of those visitors.
- I can optimize my value video to convert more than 10% of viewers.
- I can improve my phone sales process to close more than 20% of callers.
- I can raise my pricing for services higher than $800.
No guessing required. I know exactly how my business is functioning and I can get clients on demand.
If I want to make $20,000 this month, all I need to do is close 25 clients, and I know that it will cost me around $4,200 in Facebook ads to make that happen.
See how powerful that is? Wouldn’t you love to know exactly what you needed to do to make $20,000 in the next 30 days? How about double that? Spend $8,400, close 50 clients, and you can make $40,000 this next month.
It’s literally just numbers at this point, and the sky’s the limit. We had one student at Consulting.com who went from $17,000 per month to $217,000 per month within a single month of using this system.
So now that we understand the purpose of using a funnel, let’s break down the individual funnel pieces.
1. Facebook Ads
Right now, Facebook is the number one place to get clients for your consulting business. With Facebook, you can target the “perfect client” online even with a small budget.
Step one in this process of doing Facebook ads is setting up the targeting.
Facebook allows you to select the location, ages, and genders you want to target. You can even select their job title and general interests.
For example, you can just type in “plumbing” and “business owner,” and then Facebook runs a search for these people and comes back with something like, “There are 57,000 people that match this target.”
And just like that, you can run an ad targeting every plumber in America.
Once you’ve selected your target audience, it’s time to create the ad that Facebook will show them.
Obviously, you can spend hours upon hours testing different words and pictures on your ad, but it doesn’t have to be that complicated. You can start with something as simple as, “Are you a plumbing business owner looking to attract new customers?”
Now we run our ad campaigns with a goal of paying around $1 per ad click.
2. The Landing Page
So where do people go, or “land”, after clicking our ad?
They arrive at our landing page. A landing page is a website page designed to convince incoming visitors to give you their contact information.
This page should serve as an extension of your Facebook ad. If we invited plumbers looking to get more clients in the ad, we should make our promise on the landing page relevant to plumbers looking for more clients.
It doesn’t have to be long. It doesn’t have to be complicated. You are simply going to offer the visitor something free in exchange for their contact info. Since we want as many people as possible to give us their info, I like to keep it really easy, and just ask for their email address.
While we certainly aren’t limited to this number, a good average conversion rate is 33%. This means that for every 100 people who click on our ad and view our landing page, around 33 should give us their emails.
If we are paying $1 per click, and 33% of our visitors are giving us their info, we are only paying about $3 per lead!
3. The Value Video
Once our visitors give us their email addresses, we need to deliver the free training we promised them.
While there are a number of ways we can do this, my personal favorite is to use a 5-15 minute video that I call a “value video”.
The value video is all about... you guessed it... providing value. We say something like, “You’re a plumber who is struggling to find clients,” and then we give them some really useful tips for landing more clients.
Sometimes people think they need to hold their advice close to the chest, but in consulting, we want to give people a ton of value for free. The free value we provide proves that we know what we are talking about, and after all, if the entirety of our expertise can be delivered in a 5-minute video, that’s not much expertise.
The video doesn’t need to be fancy. You don’t even need to include your face if you don’t want to. You can simply record a PowerPoint presentation with a voice overlay. Don’t make this step more complicated than it needs to be!
At the end of the video, invite your viewers to learn even more from your expertise by scheduling a free consultation with you.
You can expect a good 10% of your viewers to schedule that call, and if we continue our math based on averages, you are now looking at very warm leads at only $30 a pop.
And while we don’t have time to go over it in this post, we haven’t completely lost out on the other 90% of our viewers. We already know they are interested in what we’re doing, and with strategies like email marketing, ad retargeting, and all sorts of other fun remarketing strategies, we will have countless opportunities to turn these people into customers down the road.
4. The Calendar
The next step is to send all those warm leads to our calendar.
We want to use some form of scheduling software here that allows our leads to see our availability and directly select a time to speak with us.
We use custom built software for this at Consulting.com, but there are quite a few free and premium tools that can be used for this. Calendly is a tool that can be used for free and is preferred by many of our students.
Imagine trying to schedule all of these appointments with a notebook or even something like Google Calendar. It would be a nightmare. But with good scheduling software, it’s a piece of cake.
5. The Survey
After people select a time to meet with us, we want to have them complete one more step.
I like to have my prospects complete a survey so I can determine if they’re a good fit for working with me. I don’t want to work with just anyone. I don’t want to waste my time with tire kickers or people who aren’t in a position to legitimately benefit from my consulting services.
If you want to protect your time, you need a survey in place in order to pre-screen your prospects before investing 30+ minutes in talking with them.
At this point, as we mentioned before, we are getting people scheduled into our calendar with a completed survey for $30 each. How would you like to pay $30 for a qualified, scheduled appointment with someone in your niche who has the problem you solve?
You might be thinking, “This sounds good in theory, but how do I know this thing actually works?”
Well, this is an example of what my calendar looks like just two days after turning on an ad campaign.
If I want more clients... at ANY time... I can just turn on this system. I turn on my ads and poof, my calendar stacks up like this immediately. I now have back-to-back appointments with qualified people who have a problem I’m equipped to solve.
6. The Call
Now let’s talk about the final step: the call.
There are a lot of things in business and marketing that I’m not an expert on, but when it comes to consulting sales calls, I can say without hesitation that I have this down to an absolute science.
This is where the magic happens. This is where you turn a $30 lead into a $2,000 client.
Let’s think back to our early discussion about the definition of consulting. People have a current situation and then they have a desired situation. There is a gap between these two things.
Your #1 goal on a sales call is to get a crystal clear picture of your prospect’s current situation, their desired situation, and the nature of that gap — the challenges preventing them from reaching that desired situation.
Then we want to position ourselves and our consulting offer as the vehicle to help the prospect bridge this gap.
A lot of people make the mistake of trying to sell their services. They think it’s all about persuasion. They think they need to talk and convince their prospects to trust them and to give them money.
The reality is that prospects often come to you frantic and with a scattered mind. They know they are struggling but they don’t know WHY they are struggling, and they don’t really understand where they are or where they are trying to go.
A truly masterful salesperson is almost like a therapist. By asking the right questions and listening to the prospect, you allow them to process through that confusion and arrive at a place of clarity.
A master salesperson helps bring clarity to the problematic situation the prospect is experiencing, and then they position themselves and their offer as the key to the prospect’s desired situation. You don’t sell a service. You sell a successful future.
I’ve personally done over 1,500 sales calls, recorded every single one, and studied them in the process of putting together the sales script my students now use. I call it the Alchemic Conversion Script, because you can quite literally use it to create gold.
This strategy works. It worked for me, and it works for brand new students with absolutely zero sales experience.
And while the script is retained as an exclusive part of our premium Consulting Accelerator training, I can tell you now that even just changing your mindset going into calls based on the recommendations made here today will give you a massive leg up in closing sales.
And speaking of mindsets...
4. Successful Consultants Rewire Their Mentality
We will only touch briefly on this today, but it’s an important caveat, because everything we just covered is worthless without the right mentality.
Successfully building a consulting company is hard, and knowing all the correct pieces won’t matter if you don’t have a mentality that breeds success.
We’ve worked with more than 10,000 students over the last few years, and we’ve noticed something really intriguing. The students who rewire their mentality see drastically improved results over those who simply extract knowledge and methods from our course.
Remember what we discussed earlier? You have your current state and your desired state.
The reason you haven’t achieved your goals is because you don’t have the mentality required to achieve your goals.
It’s that simple.
The only guaranteed way to succeed is to hack your brain and develop a mentality that naturally breeds success. When you are able to see yourself, your business and the market through the right mental lens, something crazy happens.
You stop fighting against yourself.
You stop fighting against your business.
You stop fighting against the market.
And suddenly, everything becomes much more efficient and even feels easier than it did before.
This is why we spend an entire week with our students focusing strictly on mentality BEFORE diving into the practical mechanics of business building. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. Consulting is not for the mentally fragile.
Consulting is problem solving, both for yourself and your clients, and the more resilient and persistent your mentality, the more successful you will be.
Your Turn: Start Your Own Consulting Business
Hopefully this guide has taught you how to start a consulting business and given you a clear game plan for building your own successful business. As we discussed earlier, there has never been a better time to get started.
You have two options moving forward:
- Build your business on your own: Learn Facebook advertising, landing page design & copywriting, video creation, and sales through your own self-education, and then create and experiment with your own amateur funnel.
- Follow a proven system: Follow the same proven system from Consulting.com that has created 25 millionaires, nearly 500 six-figure earners, and allowed over 3,000 students to quit their jobs and work for themselves full-time.
Whether you decide to go it alone or join our community of ambitious consultants, be sure to sign up for our free webinar. We’ll take an even deeper dive into the framework discussed today and show you numerous examples of people just like you making a killing as independent consultants in every imaginable industry and niche.