Even before advertising, however, it's important to determine your fees. Most consultants bill hourly for time and materials, says Ruhl. According to a 1992 survey of computer consultants by Khera Communications Inc., a computer consulting firm in Rockville, Maryland, the median rate for all types of services is $55 to $60 per hour. But, cautions Ruhl, don't base your fees solely on the national rate because the going rate in your region for your service and experience will dictate how much you should charge. To find the going rate, ask other consultants in your region what they charge or ask local consulting brokers what they would pay you hourly (add 40 percent for their commission).
Some consultants base their rates on an estimated cost of doing business. To determine this, you would estimate your expenses, decide the annual income you want to make, divide that figure by 1,000 (the number of hours per year used as a base figure by CPAs and other professionals) and then establish an hourly rate that covers expenses and yields the desired income. Ruhl offers an even simpler way: Take the annual salary a person of your experience would receive and divide by 1,000. Whichever method you use, remember that the result will be tempered by the going rate in your area and your experience level.
Obviously, operating a computer consulting firm is more than a matter of technological troubleshooting. It takes entrepreneurial know-how and a willingness to take a risk. If you fit that bill, then boot up your business and get growing.