If you’re looking for a business to start, you could take a look at our somewhat overwhelming list of 200 different ways to make money online. The first category of that list is “Freelancing”, which actually sounds better when called “Consulting”.
Let’s assume that freelancers and consultants are the same thing for now, though the only difference I can think of is that consultants can actually be employees of large consulting firms, while freelancers are more on the “I work alone and I’m totally free” side of things.
How to start a career as a consultant?
First things first, consultancy services provide expert advice in a specific area. Do not let the “expert” term scare you and remember the Pareto Principle (aka the 80 /20 rule) instead: If you know more about a specific subject than 80% of the people around you, then you’re an expert in that matter.
Let’s go through 5 different examples to illustrate that:
1. Software / Web / IT consulting
This is what I do! I started my corporate career as a software developer and worked on a couple of Google Earth and Google Maps related projects at the very beginning of my first job. These were very fun and I learnt quite a lot about those technologies over the course of several months. This made me the de facto Google Maps guy in my company. People would come to me to get their Google Maps questions answered.
Years later, I decided to give a shot at freelancing and figured out that Google Maps was a good place to get started. I had very little competition and people needed to put their data on maps to show on their websites. The niche was big enough to get me regular gigs, which kickstarted my consulting career. Then I left my day job and the rest is history.
What do we learn from my experience? Don’t try to become a “Web consultant” or a “Java expert”, as there are hundreds of thousands of people doing exactly that all over the world. Trust me, you don’t want to compete in such a massive market. Pick a smaller area of expertise instead.
2. Marketing, social media and SEO consulting
This is another very big area with lots of potential. Online marketing generates billions of revenue and every single company is looking for a silver bullet to increase their online marketing tactics.
If you know how to promote a webpage on social media and have a successful track record on that, then you won’t have any issue finding clients who need your services. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google Adwords are just some examples of technologies that you could provide help with.
3. Human resources and executive search consulting
Ever wanted to become a headhunter? From my perspective of frequently being in the shoes of the hunted, I can tell there is a pretty big market out there.
This year I declined an opportunity once and recommended someone I knew who I thought could be a good fit. That’s how I earned my first $1,000 finder fee for forwarding the right resume to the right person. It was so easy I could not believe it!
4. Accounting and financial consulting
These are two interesting options for anybody who already has a day job in one of those fields. Every business needs accounting done, and most of us welcome financial advice in order to prepare for our future.
5. Legal consulting
This covers so many different fields: Business, immigration, housing, contracts, etc. Legal consulting usually requires to be a licensed lawyer, yet there are many creative ways to help people in that domain by publishing books or online courses.
For instance, I have immigrated to the US from France and I can tell there are many more people who want to do the same thing. I learnt a lot by going through that process and I know that my experience can help other people achieve the same goal. I usually provide free guidance to anybody who asks me about that, but I’ve been toying with the idea of creating a business out of it.
By now you probably have a better idea of how you could start a consulting career. All of the above suggestions can be implemented from the comfort of home with an internet connection. Don’t hesitate to give it a try. There is really nothing to lose.