Tips for Getting Your Home-Based Consulting Business Off the Ground

Starting a business at home is much more common than you may think. In fact, around 50 percent of small businesses are home-based and often run by just one person. Many people prefer the flexibility of self-employment and freelancing (Jobs4Travelers has some great tips to help you make the most of your freelancing career, if that's what you're interested in pursuing), while others enjoy the extra cash they get from their home-based side gig. Whatever your motivation, starting your own business requires plenty of drive and self-discipline. But once you have that, all you need are the skills to get off the ground. Here's where to start.

Decide if Consulting Is for You

The skills and services offered by consultants vary widely. But, the general idea behind consulting is to offer your expertise to help other people move forward with their own businesses. Typically, consultants handle jobs such as business strategy, social media and public relations. It's a great area of work for people who are deeply knowledgeable in a particular field. You don't have to be an expert, but you should have extensive experience in that area. People skills are also important in consulting since you'll be working one-on-one with clients.

According to Forbes, you don't necessarily need a formal education to become a freelance consultant. A previous job may have already given you expertise in a particular niche. There are also plenty of courses and webinars online that can help you round out and expand your skill set. As long as you can prove to potential clients that you have the skills they're looking for, you shouldn't have a problem finding work without a degree.

Utilize Available Business Tools

Home-based businesses can be more productive now than they've ever been thanks to the rise in smart marketing and business management technology. These tools help you organize your work so you can get tasks done more efficiently. They can also be used to enhance the services you offer to clients. For example, you can use programs for automating your marketing plans or organizing your business strategies to present to clients.

Some of the most indispensable home-based business tools are accounting systems, supply chain management, and customer relationship management. Although many of these are developed for e-commerce businesses, they can work well for service-based businesses as well. For example, accounting tools can help you easily track billing invoice clients. These allow you to create professional-looking invoices to send electronically and keep track of what has been paid. Mobile invoicing programs are convenient for sending invoices while you're away from your computer and can be useful when at client meetings or on the road.

Find Your First Clients

Landing your first couple clients is the hardest part of starting your own business because you don't have a portfolio or references to back up your claims. The key to landing clients at this stage is defining the specific expertise that you can bring to their business to help them solve the particular problems they're experiencing. You'll have to describe exactly what services you offer and focus on how these services can benefit the client with an emphasis on how the client can be better off after working with you.

When it comes to looking for work, you'll need to have a good marketing plan. What makes this difficult is that your potential clients may not even be aware they need your services. Fortunately, has detailed a variety of methods you can use to attract and hold onto clients such as brochures, cold calling, newsletters, advertising and referrals. You can also set up a profile on job boards to find clients. For example, if you're interested in becoming a social media consultant, you can create a profile on a website like Upwork and connect with different clients almost immediately.

Remember, starting your own business is harder than just getting a job. So, if you're just looking for a way to pay the bills as quickly as possible, a home-based business may not be the best choice for you. Finding customers and clients can be hit or miss, so it's normal for beginners to go months or even years before making a satisfactory income. But if you're ready to stick with it for the long haul, go ahead and get started now!

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