Consulting business ideas - Part 2

Archive for the ‘Consulting business ideas’ Category

Smart social butterfly turned into software

I was at O’Reilly Strata last month, where I met Claude Theoret. Claude’s story is fascinating. He’s an astrophysicist turned consultant turned social media software pioneer. And he’s found a way to take his social and analytic skills and turned them into software.

Now, if you’re a consultant, you should be stoked at the thought of turning what’s in your head into a product that you can expand forever without ever worrying about time. It’s the joy of infinite solution-based consulting fees.

Claude’s Inner Consultant

Those of you who’ve read Discover Your Inner Consultant know that I encourage people to take what they love and find new and interesting ways to apply it. Claude’s got great networking skills and that’s shaped his career in some ways you might not expect. He helped found the astronomy at McGill University (known as Canada’s Harvard), then went on to work for CERN and French Universities, where he published articles in Science and Nature. Along the way, he got really good at crunching numbers and he already had great skills in connecting people. So, in 2006, he founded Nexalogy Environics, a firm with the goal to build  “the best strategic network intelligence firm in the market.”

Claude’s story of science expert turned social media expert intrigued me. After all, I’m a consultant, so anything to do with building expertise captivates my interest. And I’m a marketer, so social media really gets me fired up. But watching Claude in action was something else too – he’s that guy at a conference who seems to know everyone and who excels at introducing people to others who have their interests. (Thanks for all the introductions, Claude.) And the amazing thing is that Claude has found a way to use software to do that for other people. Imagine that you’ve tapped into the brain of a social butterfly – a really smart social butterfly. An astrophysicist social butterfly who knows marketing.

Turning consulting services into a powerful product

Originally a consulting services firm that helped organizations manage stakeholders, Nexalogy noes helps all sorts of organizations do risk mapping. What’s that, you ask? Well, let’s say you own a natural resources firm and you’re about to take on some new projects. Using Nexalogy Environics software, you can peruse social media – like Twitter or blogs, for example – to find out who’s been talking about that area or your firm. You can find out who’s a fan and who’s been griping. You can sort out the memes that emerge and then identify influencers and detractors. With that information, you can then seek to engage and educate those stakeholders about the work you’re doing. Given the breadth and span of social media, you can engage people who might not be able to show up at townhall meetings, perhaps because they live too far away or their lifestyles just don’t accommodate it.
(Now, as a consultant, I think this is really cool. Claude has productized his consulting services.)

What’s in it for consultants

If you’re a consultant, using social media tools like Nexalogy can help you bring new ideas and insights to your clients. An IT consultant can see what the big stories at major conferences are. A marketing consultant can review the online landscape, get a better understanding of an online brand, and do a better job. Claude notes that this provides a great opportunity for consultants “to look smart and value add”. He notes that Nexalogy’s going after the heavy hitters – enterprise users. But, even if you’re a start-up consultant in a small town somewhere, Claude says you can still tap into tools like Viralheat  before you scale up to Nexalogy.

New opportunities in brand evaluation

Social media software like this also means new opportunities in brand evaluation. You can scan all the blogs, Twitter and other social media and see what themes emerge, says Claude. You can find out how people are really relating to your product – and how they’re using it. You might find out some people are using your product in unexpected ways – ways that, if you brought their attention to more markets, would allow you to deepen your reach and expand sales. And you can do all this without having to read individual blogs and Twitter feeds – while still gaining information about how people spontaneously relate to your brand in their natural environment. That’s way more insightful than an artificial focus group.

Visual presentation of stuff you’d otherwise have to read

Nexalogy has some great examples of their online software in action:
 By the way, if you missed my coverage of Strata, you should at least never use 3D charts again without reading this.

Types of consultants

Types of consultants – Think there are only just a few types of consultants? Well, think again! There are hundreds of types of consultants. Here at Consultant Journal, we have profiled numerous consulting niches, and we’ve only just scratched the surface!

Types of consultants can be broadly arranged into consulting sub-categories. Of course, some types of consultants can be grouped into more than one category, so be sure to check out all the categories if you’re looking at this list of types of consultants for inspiration on your journey to become a consultant.

1. Personal consultants

Personal consultants offer personal services to individuals, such as weight loss and fitness consultants, home staging consultants, clutter consultants, skin care consultants and wedding consultants.

Personal consulting tends to be easier to get into because there are fewer certification requirements.

2. Technical consultants

Technical consultants perform technical services for business. Quite often, these types of consultants are hired to execute a specific project or deliverable, rather than provide advice.

There are a wide range of technical consultants and they can range from graphic designers, IT consultants, grant writing consultants, online researchers, copywriting consultants, and more.

3. Business consultants

Business consultants provide advice to other businesses, from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies. There are numerous types of consultants in this sub-category, especially because many business require these services but do not require them enough to warrant hiring a full-time staff member. Thus, businesses turn to consultants to fill this need.

There are numerous types of business consultants, and some examples include marketing consultants, sales consultants, human resources consultants, restaurant consultants, and business development consultants.

4. Executive consultants

Executive consultants are a smaller group of consultants, and they tend to charge the highest fees. Some examples of executive consultants are legal consultants, labor relations consultants, conflict resolution consultants, jury consultants, medical consultants, and other highly skilled and highly trained consultants.

For even more ideas for consulting ideas, check out this list of types of consultants.

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Big data – the super hero consulting opportunity

Big data offers a world of opportunity for consultants. Despite the boring moniker, big data can help turn you into a superhero – imagine preventing diseases, deterring terrorism and fighting crime. Well, with big data, you can do that. Big data refers to data sets so huge that they defy management by tools like databases. It’s hard to capture, store, search, analyze, visualize, share and interpret big data. Figure out how to help people do any of those tasks and you’re in business.

O’Reilly Strata – the conference on big data – opened yesterday, after selling out more than 1200 tickets. “What it means is we’ve hit onto something,” notes Tim O’Reilly, founder of the company. “A big inflection point in our industry.”

Big data – the next big thing for consultants

For consultants, big data seems to offer a world of opportunities. While companies ranging from Twitter to Nexalogy and from Fedex to Saaspire work at building tools and aggregating data, someone’s got to figure out what it all means.  Roger Magoulas of O’Reilly’s research team notes, for example, that services such as can capture interest in, say, Egypt – but there’s a still a big opportunity. “It doesn’t tell you how to run Egypt, it tells you what’s going on in Egypt.”

Alistair Croll predicts opportunity for consultants

So someone still needs to make a decision about what to do with the data. For consultants, that means taking on new roles with clients and exploring new opportunities. Bitcurrent’s Alistair Croll – co-chair of the Strata conference — predicts there are “10 years of money to be made helping people get to that mindset of being data driven”, although “consultants are used to being the ones that provide answers.”

If Croll’s predictions are on target, consultants will need to change their skillsets. Being a primadonna won’t work. You’ll still need to be an expert, but that expertise will need to go beyond technical expertise. You’ll want to get good at facilitating, mentoring, synthesizing and coaching,

That’s good news, though. If you’re providing a solution-oriented approach and delivering value, you’re going to be able to command higher consulting fees and move to rates that reflect the value you provide.

But only if you can do it without 3D charts.

How to become a business owner

 How to become a business owner – wondering how?

The first step to discovering how to be a business owner is deciding that becoming a business owner is right for you. The way to decide whether owning a business is something you should pursue is to invest the time and energy in understanding what it takes to become a business owner.

Thankfully, research regarding how to become a business owner doesn’t have to be passive or boring. In fact, researching can be as easy as considering what type of business you’d like to own and then immersing yourself in that business: by speaking to those already in the business, reading about the industry or simply launching your own business as a side-job.

That’s right, if you’re wondering how to become a business owner one of the easiest and most valuable things you can do is to start your own business as a second job. In fact, starting a business doesn’t have to be expensive.  When you run a business as a side-job, you’re gaining valuable knowledge and first-hand experience in what it takes to become a business owner without having to give up the stability, benefits and other perks of your current day job. Once your business is up and running, you can take the leap to running your business full-time.

Still wondering how to become a business owner and run your own business? Consider consulting. Why? Because consulting is one of the quickest and simplest businesses to start, consulting offers flexible hours and it’s lucrative. Want to learn more about the type of consulting business you can start that takes advantage of your skills and competencies? Check out the Consultant Journal store for insider tips on how to jumpstart your consulting career.

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Be the Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread

Positioning yourself as an expert can give your career and your business a boost. After all, when you’re a trusted authority, people are more likely to seek you out and to refer you to others. Whether you’re in business or simply a professional career, figuring out just how to build your expert status can give you an edge.

After I got interviewed by CBC this week, some people asked how they could do the same. And, every day, someone comes to this website, wondering how they can build up their expert status or position themselves as a consultant, so that they can command higher fees. And while I’ve got Six Tips for Jumpstarting Your Expert Status, I thought perhaps a little presentation might help. 

And so I created…

How to be the greatest thing since sliced bread

(You can view it full-screen by pressing play and then clicking the little rectangle with the black box in it on the right.)

The thing is, I believe each and every one of you has it within you to become an expert at something. Really. You just need to pick the right niche and work at it. Give it time. You might not get it right immediately. But give it time.

Incidentially, kudos to my dad, who often talks about this or that being the greatest thing since sliced bread. (I must say I had a great time reading about the history of sliced bread.)


Starting a consulting firm

Starting a consulting firm can become a reality. Have you always dreamed of starting a consulting firm? Stop dreaming and start planning. Soon enough you too can start a consulting company.

Starting a consulting firm can be broken down into a few key steps:

1. Choose your niche

Starting a consulting firm begins with a niche. What type of consultant will you be?

2. Choose your clients

The more specific your client base is the easier it will be to market your services. Choose your clients.

3. Set up your office

Whether you’re starting a consulting firm that’s home-based or out in the public eye, you’ll want a clear, clean place to work. Set up your office.

4. Start marketing

Starting a consulting firm means getting your name out there. Understand your market and start marketing your services. Want to know the secret to marketing your consulting company? It’s all about relationships.

5. Start consulting

Once you’ve landed your first client, do your best work. Pull out all the stops, because your existing and past clients are your number one priority. They will give you referrals and they could end up coming back to you again and again. Start consulting!

Starting a consulting firm can become a reality. Whether you’re planning on jumping in with two feet starting a consulting firm from scratch or whether you’d like to start slow and keep your day job, it can be done.

Are you looking for mentorship to help you get started? Consider registering for the Become a Consultant: How to Make the Leap course. With audio and written lessons, 25 exercises, discussion forums and more, you’ll have mentorship in your journey to consulting.

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30 things I love about being a parent entrepreneur

 I ran a consulting business before I ever had kids, but I certainly run a different business now that I have kids and I’m a parent entrepreneur….

  1. I once did a one-hour long radio interview while making googoo faces at my baby and still made it to the radio pilot
  2. I recorded a radio pilot during naptime
  3. I get to pick up my son from preschool
  4. The kindergarten teacher called me by name at pick-up and give me a newspaper clipping she’d saved – in the second week of school
  5. I have an inside view of my son’s world because I stay at the playground for an hour or two after kindergarten ends
  6. All the community centre staff know my name
  7. I get to write off my business use of home
  8. I share cool gadgets and toys with my business and get to write off the business portion
  9. I never have to ask a boss if I can have time off for a field trip
  10. I walk my kids to and from school
  11. I love baking cookies while working on a report
  12. It’s awesome to long distance Skype a client from the wireless café during preschool
  13. Other moms prompt me to hand their friends my business cards on the playground — and I can do it without that schmoozy feel I get at networking events
  14. My kids love the art supply section of the office supply store
  15. Collaborating is the key to success in business and, as a mom, I get that.
  16. I get to live my vision. The work I do is mine. I own the mistakes and I own the glory.
  17. I’ve put my kids down for just about every nap. I’ve been there for just about every wake-up time.
  18. I rolled homemade sushi at 3 in the afternoon the other day.
  19. I don’t have a cubicle. My home office has a toddler table, a train table, a dinky car on the floor, and a fold out tent, though.
  20. A business owner I met at parent-infant group turned into a great client, then I became her client, then we became close friends. Our kids think of one another like cousins.
  21. I feel a deep connection to several other parent entrepreneurs and count so many as friends
  22. My commute is…there’s no commute.
  23. I can dress up when I feel like it and dress down when I don’t.
  24. I work my business around my family, rather than working my family around someone else’s business.
  25. If I feel stuck in a rut with my work, I can simply shift gears to accounting, sales, admin, operations, finance, management…whatever suits me.
  26. I can choose how many hours I work. If the hours start to exceed my tolerance for work, I can outsource or cut back.
  27. I can start dinner while checking my voice mail.
  28. I can go outside whenever I want. Heck, I’ve been known to work outside.
  29. One of my favourite business networking sessions involved my toddler, a client, her toddler and a lovely day at the beach.
  30. No fluorescent lights.
My life isn’t perfect. Even I have my days. But it’s my life. My design. My choices. My values. All before me and within my control. And that — well, who could complain about that?

Become an independent consultant

Become an independent consultant – Think being an independent consultant is just a pipe dream? Think twice. You can become an independent consultant. Yes, even you.

Here at Consultant Journal, we have over 800 free articles that explain every aspect of how to become an independent consultant, from choosing a consulting specialty and setting consulting fees to marketing your business.

Become an independent consultant in seven steps:

1. Do your research

In order to become an independent consultant you’ve got to do your research. What is a consultant? How do consultants make money? What are the risks of being a consultant? What are the benefits? Learn the ins and outs of becoming a consultant by reading, researching and meeting working consultants.

2. Get your financial house in order

Becoming an independent consultant may mean giving up a steady paycheck, and many consultants go through the feast or famine cycle. Get your finances in order before becoming a consultant. Amass a minimum cushion of savings, get your debts in order, get a business credit card for operating costs, open up a business bank account and consider applying for a low-interest line of credit. These financial products are easier to obtain before you make the leap to consulting so, if possible, plan before you leap.

3. Choose a consulting specialty

Independent consultants are experts who sell their knowledge. Experts are specialists in a very focused niche. Check out this list of ideas or cut to the chase and purchase the Discover Your Inner Consultant guidebook.

4. Understand the value that you provide to clients

When you become an independent consultant you are providing crucial advice and services that will invariably help your clients improve their interests. In order to become a financially successful independent consultant you must understand what you’re selling.

5. Set your consulting rates

After you become an independent consultant you will quickly learn that there is nothing more important than how you set your rates. Further details on how to set your rates are here or, for the full discussion, purchase our guidebook: Consulting Fees: A Guide for Independent Consultants.

6. Build your expert status

As a consultant, you’re billing yourself as an expert. Subscribe to Consultant Journal’s newsletter and receive Six Tips for Jumpstarting Your Expert Status when you sign up.

7. Make the leap to consulting

Be it full-time or part-time, you are ready to become an independent consultant!

Still wondering how to truly become an independent consultant? In addition to the over 800 free articles here on Consultant Journal, we offer a few products to help you when ready to seriously take the leap.

Course and mentorship package:

Become a Consultant: How to Make the Leap With audio and written lessons, 25 exercises, discussion forums and more, you’ll have mentorship in your journey to consulting.

Guidebooks for independent learners:

Discover Your Inner Consultant: A Guide for Discovering What Consulting Business You Could Start – You’ve started thinking about becoming a consultant. Maybe you’ve mulled over a few ideas or maybe you’re stumped. But how do you choose a consulting business? How do you figure out what business would work best for you?

Consulting Fees: A Guide for Independent Consultants – Learn a system for setting consulting fees and maximize your earning potential. Set your rate and ask for it with confidence.

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Become a small business consultant

Become a small business consultant today and enjoy the benefits and freedom of being a consultant.

What is a small business consultant? A small business consultant is an independent consultant who helps other small businesses thrive by offering advice and an outsider perspective.

Here are the top questions about how to become a small business consultant.

1. Who should become a small business consultant?

Unlike some consulting niches, small business consultants come from varied backgrounds and certification is not required. Invariably, though, small business consultants should have experience working (or studying) successful small businesses.

Small business consultants need to have an understanding of the following areas:

  • Defining small businesses
  • Growing small businesses
  • Attracting customers
  • Identifying problems and proposing solutions
  • Business strategies
  • Marketing strategies

2. How long does it take to become a small business consultant?

The length of time it takes to become a small business consultant can vary greatly. Being a small business consultant means developing a rapport with small businesses. The length of time it takes to attract clients depends on your network, marketing skills, expertise, social skills, confidence, expertise and many other factors. Check out this article that explains how long it takes to become a consultant.

3. What are the benefits of being a small business consultant?

Besides the basic benefits of being a consultant, small business consultants report high levels of job satisfaction because they help small businesses grow and witness the changes firsthand.

4. I’ve decided to become a small business consultant. Now what?

In order to become a small business consultant you’ve got to take the leap! If you’ve done all your research and you think you’re ready to become a small business consultant, then you’re ready to start building your expert status. Want to know how to build your expert status as a small business consultant? Subscribe to Consultant Journal’s newsletter and receive Six Tips for Jumpstarting Your Expert Status when you sign up.

Want help in making the transition to consulting? Enroll in the official Consultant Journal course — Become a Consultant: How to Make the Leap. With audio and written lessons, 25 exercises, discussion forums and more, you’ll have mentorship in your journey to consulting.

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Personal inventory – taking stock of yourself

Personal inventory taking a.k.a. taking stock of your unique attributes can help you determine your future in self employment. Your personal inventory can help you figure out how your skills, experiences, strengths, weaknesses, goals and interests all fit together. By getting a better sense of your personal inventory, you can figure out who you are and what you have to offer – and just how self employment might fit into that.

Personal inventory can launch your dreams

Many people dream of self employment, but freeze up when it comes to actually doing something about it. That’s understandable. Not every dream needs to be explored. But taking the time to figure out what your dreams are and how who you are fits into those dreams can help you uncover your potential. And a personal inventory can help you explore who you are in depth.

Personal inventory can help with overcoming obstacles

Moreover, by taking the time to work through your dreams and interests, you may discover solutions to problems you thought were unsolvable. For example, some people worry about letting go of their day jobs, so, for them, starting a side business may be the best option. Others worry about carrying all the weight on their own shoulders, so they seek out business partners, joint venture partners and mentors. Still others get nervous about income fluctuation, so they build up solid emergency funds.
A personal inventory can help you get a strong sense of who you are, so you can build an action plan to achieve your dreams. And that confidence will serve you in good stead, whatever path you pursue.
If you’d like to work through a personal inventory, consider our Discover Your Inner Consultant or, for parents, Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur (for Moms).

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