How to Start a Consulting Business: Your One Page Business Plan
Learn the three critical components of your business plan and download a template to get started
I wrote several business plans while obtaining my MBA from the University at Buffalo. But, for some reason, I totally skipped that part when it was time to launch my consulting business. My only real plan was to generate revenue, which often involved saying “yes!” to any opportunity that came my way, and not charging nearly enough for the services. And, when my daughter was born, I was too concerned about the future to be fully present. I was there, but I was more preoccupied with worrying about how I would provide for her than I was with enjoying and appreciating the experience.
Fortunately, that all changed once I decided to create a real plan aligned with the vision I had for my business and my family. That was six years ago and I’ve now packaged it as the One Page Business Plan for Consultants. I’m sharing the framework with you so you can avoid my mistakes, and compress the amount of time it takes for you to find fulfillment. This is by no means a hack - you’re going to put in work - but this guide will reduce the confusion and frustration that can come from starting a new business.
I should also note that you may not complete it in one sitting. By design, it will challenge you and expose blind spots you may not be aware of. That’s a good thing! Addressing these critical issues now will save you from months - possibly even years - of self-doubt and lost revenue.
And, if you’re currently offering professional services, but are wondering why you haven’t been able to “figure it out” just yet, this plan could be the key to unlocking your revenue potential.
It’s all centered around answering three critical questions, which I’ve highlighted below.
What do you do, who do you do it for, and why?
Clarity is the precursor to confidence. Once you establish clarity on your services, audience and motivation; you’ll be able to confidently move forward with the next steps. I address how to get clear on your services in the article How to Start a Consulting Business: 3 Steps to Finding Your Idea, so I suggest checking that out in addition to the guidance provided in the business plan.
Be sure not to skip defining your “WHY” - the purpose, the cause, or the belief that drives you - this will become a valuable differentiator as you grow your business. And, if you need help crafting yours, Simon Sinek literally wrote the book on it, but you can also check out his brief YouTube video that provides some valuable tips.
How do you attract clients and opportunities by expressing your expertise and personality? (Marketing)
When I first started offering Digital Marketing services, I visited a local business in Brooklyn so I could pitch them in person. I knew launching a business would require stepping out of my comfort zone and I saw this as the perfect opportunity to do so. Incredibly enough, they said “yes”, but I never did door-to-door sales again. Why? Because I hated it, and I knew there had to be a more efficient way.
Your goal should be to land clients based on how you feel comfortable presenting yourself and the value you provide. Not by spending 20 minutes hyping yourself up by listening to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” on repeat before you finally get enough courage to ask for their business. Everyone may be telling you to join Clubhouse, but answering questions on Quora might be a better fit for your personality.
It’s also crucial to attract the right prospects. I used to get contacted by people who asked how much I charged before asking how I could help. In time, you’ll learn how to weed those people out so you can focus on prospects who understand the value you provide and are willing to pay you what you’re worth.
Beyond that, your marketing tactics need to be measurable and repeatable. Otherwise, you won’t know how to avoid making the same mistakes or double down on what’s working for you.
How do you deliver your services and scale revenue? (Delivery)
Experiencing burnout — emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress — is far too common with entrepreneurs. One way to avoid it: develop a process to deliver your services that is aligned with efficiency and impact.
While custom projects can be lucrative, they also require much more coordination and development. Defining the delivery - and pricing - of your services in advance allows you to create a business model that is aligned with your desired revenue and lifestyle goals.
You can see options for delivering your services below.
By documenting this process, you’ll also be able to better project and scale revenue, which reduces uncertainty and gives you the freedom to take time off without worrying about where your next paycheck is coming from.
Download the One Page Business Plan and block off three hours to work on it. I suggest working for 50 minutes, taking a 10-minute break, and repeating that cycle three times. And, if you have any questions feel free to reach to me on LinkedIn or join a live Q&A session.
Ready to start your consulting business? Check out our Consulting Business Accelerator and get going today! You'll gain access to training videos, hands-on activities and join live weekly Q&A calls.