July 6th, 2004, 09:59 PM
Starting your Own Consulting Firm
Starting Your Own Computer Consulting Firm
I have noticed that a few people on AO are interested in starting their own consulting firms so that they can be their own boss and make some cash on the side. Well I am here to say that YOU CAN DO IT! It may not always be easy, and you may need to make sacrifices along the way but such is the price one pays to do something they love.
Where I am from:
Let me first let you know where I am coming from so that you do not think I am just wasting your time. I come from a long line of entrepreneurs and I am currently running both my own company and working as a regular network administrator position at a large company and I am very happy with my current position.
My great-grandfather, grandfather and father all have been their own bosses. Sure they worked in the same industry all their lives but eventually they all started their own businesses. It was nothing special when my older brother opened his own web-design company. I saw and heard about all these people starting their own companies being their own bosses and I wanted to be one. My first adventure into owning my own business started with lawn-cutting and trimming services. That business lasted a summer and then I decided that it didnít pay enough.
After working a few other jobs as a ďpeonĒ I decided that I would build my own business. Well I got sucked into the computer scene and was using so much time staring at a screen that I totally forgot about my dream of being an entrepreneur. I soon landed a job working as a website designer for a rather large corporation. I moved up the ranks from the web designer to senior technical advisor for this corp. Well in my current position I was given a nice deal were I could make my own schedule. I started thinking about being my own boss again. I quickly put this thought out of my mind because I liked my job and didnít want to get worn down.
One day my brother (now working sales at a large semi-conductor manufacturer and a owner and operator of a few workout gyms) called and asked me if I could help them (the company he worked for). His companyís network had gone down and even though I felt very capable to fix this I did not want to mix business with family and I decided that I wouldnít go help him but I would help him and direct the job to someone else that I trusted. So I quickly called a buddy of mine and sent him over. He quickly solved the problem got a nice check a satisfaction job well-done.
It was at this point that I decided I would once again try to start my own business, however this time I would be starting a computer consulting firm. I knew that it would be tough and that I would have to give up personal time and I knew that some relationships would suffer but I also knew it would be worth it. I took a few simple steps in starting my own business was soon able to start making some money.
What steps did I take:
1. First I bought some Avery Printable Business Cards and created my own graphic and contact information and printed a large amount of them.
a. I had a direct phone so that I knew I could answer it and that I would be able to make sure it was handled with professionalism (care).
b. I had an E-mail address that I checked regularly
c. I also put a physical address it makes people feel comfortable knowing where you live (even if it is P.O. Box it will still satisfy people).
2. I then started by getting my name out there as someone who works on computers. I started striking up conversation with people at book stores, coffee places, church and anywhere else I could.
3. I always carried my business cards (the ones I created in step one) so that when I met someone (or a pretty lady) I appeared professional (people judge you by their first impression of you).
4. I would also dress nice and neat when I knew I was going to try to make some contacts. * I also dress nicely whenever I go to a jobsite for the first time just to make sure that I do not appear as a young punk like some of my clients would consider me if they saw me regularly.
5. Make sure you have a system of how you will bill your customers. Set up rules that you will follow on how much you charge. When you expect payment and how you expect to receive it. *You must follow your own rules the reason why most small companies fail is laziness and lack of discipline.
a. Opening a checking account is helpful and shows professionalism
b. Donít let a quick buck blind you, make sure you research what the going rate is and be competitive. (Just because people canít figure out their network doesnít mean they canít google) If you cheat a customer you lost that customer and all his contacts.
6. Then my business started to grow when I was getting referrals by word of mouth. It was at this point that I was able to start scheduling people around my current schedule so that I could accomplish all that needed to be done.
7. You must check your local laws on small-business and fill out the appropriate paper work. * You can wait for this step make sure that you will definitely be starting a business before filing all the paperwork.
This is what worked for me and I thought it would be helpful for a lot of people here so I decided to write this up as a quick tutorial. If you would like to add something please let me know.
Following this will not guarantee success, however it will definitely help you on your way to success.
Yeah thats right........I said It!
Ultimately everyone will have their own opinion--this is mine.