The start-up phase of a company is definitely an exciting time in any consultant’s life, yet it comes with certain responsibilities. Efficiently setting up your venture according to an organized list of business requirements can provide a solid foundation from which to grow and prosper. In addition, having a well-written business plan can give your business a compass from which to navigate the waters of the coming year “” a critical time in any new organization.
To help you get started, here is a general efficiency checklist guide for start-up consulting companies to utilize.
1. Market Research: Before you jump feet first into developing a new consulting business, you must do your homework. Take the time to identify your market niche and target customers. Then study the market well, based upon what you uniquely can bring to the table. Conduct a thorough SWOT analysis to identify your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (from competitors). This will serve as the driver for your sales force and marketing efforts, once you launch your company.
2. Business Formation: Prepare your business registration and tax forms as early as possible, obtaining the necessary licenses and permits to conduct business. Draft a comprehensive business plan. Establish your business type and any partnerships to protect your personal assets. Also, don’t forget to register a federal tax identification number via the Internal Revenue Service, which you will use for setting up new financial and tax accounts.
3. Client Services: Develop your processes for contacting client prospects, business networking, and customer service for your new company. At this stage, you may be handling much of this yourself, or you may consider hiring an assistant to help manage these roles. Set up a corporate website and a social media account to both establish your company brand presence and handle incoming inquiries about your products or services.
4. Revenue Generation and Management: Sign up for an easy to manage accounting system such as QuickBooks to handle invoicing, payroll, and vendor payments, linked to a business bank account and credit card. Establish an online payment processing service to accept all forms of payment from customers. Evaluate your offerings to identify up-sell opportunities. Hire commission-only sales representatives to start marketing and developing new revenue streams.
5. Information Management: Set up an internal information and customer management system to track all business interactions and activities. Link this to all your other business functions, including sales, accounting, and customer service. Maintain this system on a secure server with a backup system. Develop a basic plan for business continuity, such as storing information in a cloud server or establishing an off-site storage center with a partner.
To grow your consulting business, you will likely need more capital from which to build new products and develop new ideas. Seek this funding from private investors and public investment teams, who can help you with financial support and business mentoring. Once you are at this stage, you are graduated beyond being a start-up to a maturing business model.
About the Author: when Steven isn’t reviewing the best business, phone, and TV bundle packages for small businesses, he is covering a wide range of topics in the blogosphere, including ways for businesses to improve process efficiency.