One of the most popular small business startups is a professional services business. Here are five tips for starting a professional services business with little or no money.
One of the most popular small business startups is a professional services business. Many professional services businesses are consulting firms, which offer advice and guidance. Others provide specific services, such as business accounting, bookkeeping, tax preparation, or financial management.
You could start a professional services business if you have in-demand expertise of any sort. While marketable professional services such as accounting, legal, financial advisory, or business management services are the basis for many startups, in fact, the possibilities are much broader than that. Are you a master gardener, a human resources professional, a talented business writer, a technology services pro, or a marketing and public relations whiz? All these skills can be the basis for a successful small business if you combine them with an entrepreneurial spirit.
One of the appeals of starting a professional services business is that it generally requires little capital; its product is your expertise. There may be some startup legal expenses if you decide to incorporate, and you may need business insurance and possibly an accountant, but the up-front investment in total probably will be relatively modest.
Here are five tips for starting a professional services business.
Start With a Strong Resume
Since a professional services business must be built on your knowledge and skills, a strong resume in the area of your expertise will go a long way when it comes to bringing in customers. Resume-boosters include a degree from a prestigious institution, professional credentials that indicate a high level of accomplishment and knowledge, and work experience with a firm or firms well respected in your profession. The stronger your credentials, the more doors that will be open to you as you begin to market your business.
Leave Your Employer on Good Terms
Often a firm where you worked can be a good source of business for your startup, so be sure to leave on good terms with colleagues and management. Your relationship with your ex-employer can be especially powerful if your new firm offers differentiated but related services or targets different customers. For example, often as companies grow, so does the size of their customers; as a result, they have to turn away some potential clients who are too small for them to serve profitably. Customers who are too small for your ex-employer could be just the right size for your startup, and your old firm may be happy to refer them to you.
Get Comfortable Networking
Networking is one of the best ways for a professional services business to attract customers, so make meeting and greeting a top priority. Join your local small business association and become active in civic groups in your community. When you make promising contacts, be prepared to concisely and clearly describe your services, your expertise, and what sets your business apart, and have a list of references available so potential customers can easily check your background and credentials.
Establish Relationships With Businesses That Can Refer Business to You
Look for opportunities to develop mutually beneficial relationships with other businesses. For example, if you are an accountant, you could seek out a law firm that specializes in business law. Offer to refer your clients to them when they need legal services if they will return the favor and refer small businesses needing accounting services to you.
Ask Satisfied Customers for Their Help
There is no better way to grow your business than through positive word of mouth, so be proactive in trying to generate it for your business. For example, make a habit of asking satisfied customers for referrals and for approval to use them as references.
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