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An overview of how to set up your consulting business


An overview of how to set up your consulting business

The consulting profession cannot be improvised. To succeed, a certain number of conditions must be met, as explained by Pierre-Michel do Marcelino, HR consultant.

Is there a good time in a career to start as a consultant?

In my opinion, this process should be initiated in the second part of the career . When you become a freelance consultant , you can only rely on your own resources. It is therefore necessary to have a significant back-up in terms of professional experience . In my opinion, the right age to try the adventure is 40 or 45 years old.

What are the other ingredients that will condition the success of the project?

You must first have a solid network . A consultant who starts without a connection has a 90% chance of failing. As far as I'm concerned, when I started, all the contracts I signed for the first two years came from my personal network. Then you have to have real expertise . Customers today expect concrete answers to their problems, not grand theories that lead to nothing. The consultant must therefore be able to design and implement effective solutions . The last very important point is that you have to be able to withstand the shock financially one year without having to pay himself any remuneration. It is indeed very difficult to initiate an activity by asking yourself every day how you are going to feed your family ... This financial mattress allows you to concentrate solely on launching your activity.

What do you advise in terms of choosing the status?

For my part, I recommend the creation of a company in the form of LLC . And if you can not find a partner, in your family for example, then you have to fall back on the EURL . From a legal standpoint , these two statutes have the advantage of separating the personal assets of the company. But the most important thing is elsewhere, in the image that you convey to your customers. By creating a company, you show that you have more perspective, a constructed offer, the means ... Some clients only accept to work with companies, because they believe that this status is the pledge of more great durability with their suppliers.

Once the status has been chosen, how do you go about starting the activity?

My first advice would be this: only do what you can do, outsource everything else! Personally, when I started, I wanted to make my brochures, my accounts ..., which made me waste a lot of time. I would have been better inspired to outsource all of this to concentrate on my core business. You also have to build your offer carefully, present it well and give it visibility. For that, you have to think a lot and discusswith business leaders or people likely to have a critical eye. Finally, we must try not to fall into the trap of wanting to offer an all-round offer. In doing so, the consultants feel like they will potentially reach more people, which is true. The problem is that they may also be of no interest to anyone. Companies today are looking for experts in a given field, not generalists .

The commercial dimension is I imagine very important ...

The commercial aspect is indeed essential. It is probably even, with the expertise, the number one condition for success. If you want to become a consultant and you don't have the commercial flair and you don't like money, it could be very complicated. You shouldn't be afraid to pick up your phone and be refused nine times out of ten, because the next time you call, you will have to have the holy fire again and again. So better to show a lot of perseverance and resistance to frustration.

Are there any pitfalls to avoid when starting out?

Besides the temptation to offer too large an offer or to want to do everything yourself, I think that we should not try to destroy the typical image of the consultant with his suit and tie, his very clean car ... All this plays on the imagination of our customers. The other trap to avoid is to become a single clientWhen a customer represents 60 or 70% of your turnover, you forget that you are a consultant, you become in a way an employee of the company, you know everyone ... The problem is that when this customer lets go of you, because he will eventually let go of you, it's a real disaster because you lose 70% of your turnover. I therefore recommend a limit of 10% per customer. Like that, the day one of them leaves you, it doesn't matter