In slowing economies, those who work in small business consulting can help companies identify problems, recommend solutions and ultimately cut costs and increase revenue. Business and management consultants are also employed in virtually every industry — either full time or as freelance consultants — including in the banking, mining, retail, logistics, healthcare, government and media sectors.
Our Professional Practice for Consultants will help you hone and market your expertise to prospective clients to leverage positive outcomes. You will study presenting, report writing, communication and negotiating skills, as well as emotional intelligence and leadership. And with Seek projecting job growth of over 24 per cent in the next five years (and a salary package of up to $120K!), now is the ideal time to consider a consultant career.
Outcomes achieved by undertaking consulting courses include:
- Learning about professional practice for consultants
- Exploring the pros and cons of being a consultant
- Studying what’s needed to be a consultant and how to get started
- Gaining an understanding of codes of conduct
- Understanding the methods of entering business and deciding where to work
- Studying how to plan a consultancy
- Learning about equipment, start-up finance and set up costs
- Exploring business structures
- Gaining an understanding of insurance
- Studying how to prepare a business plan and pro forma
- Gaining insights into knowing what to charge
- Understanding available work time and how to convince clients of your fee value
- Learning how to set up your consultancy practice
- Exploring how to find clients and market a consultancy practice
- Studying how to establish a press kit, network and communicate
- Gaining insights into keeping accounts and records
- Understanding how to source documents
- Learning how to handle timesheets and invoices
- Exploring how to generate business and keep it
- Studying how to use agents and brokers
- Gaining insights into subcontracting other consultant and support services
- Understanding how to gain references from clients and propagate referrals
- Learning how to obtain references from clients
- Exploring how to write tenders and articles
- Studying how to close a deal
- Gaining insights into leveraging successful client relationships and keep clients
- Understanding how to deal with clients who say no
- Learning how to maintain your consultancy practice
- Studying how to hire staff and expand your business
- Gaining insights into creating passive income
- Understanding how to work in a changing world
… and more!
The Most In-Demand Consultancy Skills
If you’re not sure of the type of consultancy work you’d like to do, it’s worth remembering that the types of consulting careers for those with the right qualifications depend on the sector involved. However, these days those with project management, financial modelling, data science and analysis, process improvement and business transformation skills are becoming increasingly sought after. Here are the most commonly requested consultancy services in Australia, by industry, according to Business Insider magazine.
- Large corporations – process improvement, project management, business transformation, financial modelling, and data science and analysis.
- Aviation – Data science and analysis, due diligence and customer segmentation.
- Banking – Project management, business transformation and process improvement.
- Mining and metals – Project management, tendering, and procurement strategy.
- Logistics and supply chain – Business analytics, process improvement and supply chain management.
- Media – Marketing strategy, lead generation and data science and analysis.
- Retail – Digital transformation, data science and analysis and IT project management.
- Telco – Change management, Big Data and business analytics.
- Healthcare – Process improvement, data science and analysis and project management.
- Financial services – Change management, business analytics and due diligence.
- Insurance – Change management, project management and business strategy.
- Government – Big Data, digital transformation and process improvement.
- Consumer goods – Process improvement, cost reduction and marketing strategy.
How to Start a Consulting Business
Starting any business can be daunting, but with business consultants being engaged by more and more organisations in Australia, it can be a lucrative and rewarding career path. However, being able to provide expert advice doesn’t necessarily guarantee you work!
You will either need to source your own small business consulting clients directly, or sub-contract to larger companies that provide these services. Regardless, it may mean working with multiple clients with a broad range of needs. So what should you consider before taking the plunge?
Depending on your area of specialisation and the types of consulting services you’ll be offering, there may be certain legal requirements you need to adhere to. These include choosing the right business structure — as a sole trader, partnership or company. Each has their pros and cons that will affect the future operation of your business including tax consequences.
You’ll need to apply for an ABN for tax purposes, and professional indemnity insurance is also recommended. This is designed to protect small businesses and covers legal claims that other third parties may make, such as a breach of duty or negligence.
Certain regulated industries may require formal qualifications, however, Professional Practice for Consultants will establish your credibility and expertise to clients. It’s also worth applying for professional memberships and industry accreditations to keep up to date with developments in certain industries.
Once you’ve determined your business structure, you should also look at how you see your business expanding down the track. You may want to start small — with just you in a home-based office — and hiring additional staff at a later date. If this is in your business plan, think about what tasks they will perform and where they will work.
For example, you may wish to hire another specialist or someone who can help out with admin so that you can concentrate on servicing your clients. There are also a number of key responsibilities as an employer that you’ll need to consider.
If you have formerly worked for a large organisation and about to embark on a solo consultant career, then things are about to change! Running your own business means you will be responsible for everything from fixing internet issues to covering expenses, paying super and managing how and when you invoice for your services.
You also won’t receive income for time off work — so paid annual leave and sick leave won’t be an option. You’ll need to weigh up whether your lifestyle and personality can cope with these factors, and learn how to be disciplined and organised so you can effectively manage your workload.
The best consulting services in the world are no good to anyone if there is no market for them, so understanding who is going to pay for your expertise is crucial. Are you looking to service individuals, large organisations or global corporates? And how will this work logistically? If you are looking to service clients face-to-face, you’ll need to factor in travel expenses and confirm whether clients are willing to cover these costs.
The idea of branding your business can be intimidating. However, establishing it will solidify how your clients see you and form their opinion of your business. Your brand should also stand out from other consultancy services in terms of your unique selling proposition (USP).
Then it’s all about finding the most effective ways to communicate your USP to your prospective clients, ie. marketing yourself! This can be done by an engaging website, a unique marketing campaign or a memorable social media feed — whatever will make your potential customers think of your services before your competitors.
Once established, you should also consider protecting your brand (such as your logo and intellectual property) by registering your business name.
To guarantee a consistent flow of work, you should be building and then maintaining relationships with your current and also potential clients. But networking is also vital to your success as a small business owner, regardless of the types of consulting services you provide. Professional networks will introduce you to a variety of practices, give you new opportunities to learn, and promote positive connections and collaboration.
And once your business grows and your reputation is solidified, contributing to thought leadership in your area of expertise (via article writing or blog posts for example), can enhance your kudos even further.
Different types of consulting will require the charging of different rates, and determining these can be challenging. Charging too little will mean it will be harder to make your business financially viable in the longer term, and charging too much may deter clients from working with you. Do your research in terms of your competitors, compare ‘apples with apples’ and base your rates around being competitive.
You will also need to factor in your expenses — including tax and super contributions. Invoicing terms should be agreed upon including the timing of payments, and if projects are lengthy, consider charging an upfront fee that is paid before work commences to cover your ongoing costs.
Confidently leverage your strategic know-how and help improve the financial and operational health of a wide range of businesses with our Professional Practice for Consultants!