For any business, you need a solid foundation. For your clients to trust your coaching or consulting expertise, you need to appear business like and organized. As well, you do not want to leave things and say that you will deal with them later, as you may quickly get a lot of clients, and want to have time to meet their needs. Or, you may not quickly get a lot of clients, and may need to spend much of your time marketing.
The first thing you need to do is develop a business plan. This business plan should include details of the following, although you may have other factors you want to consider in your plan:
• The first thing you need to do is choose a name for your business. This should be simple enough that everyone understands what you do, yet leave space for your business to expand
• The basics of the business – where are you going to set up the business? Will it be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or will you incorporate? It may be best to incorporate, as incorporation causes the company to be a separate entity from yourself. In a sole proprietorship, the company and the individual running the company are seen as the same entity. Many companies start as sole proprietorships and incorporate as they grow bigger. If there is any risk of being sued, you may want to either incorporate, or move assets into your spouse’s name.
• Other more basic basics like where your office will be. Many consultants start out with a home office, which is a good way to keep initial and recurring expenses down. You already have to pay rent or mortgage on a home, it can be difficult to start a company when it also has rent or a lease to pay. If you do not have the space – perhaps you need to be able to use large equipment – you may want to consider renting a studio. If you are running classes or workshops, you may wish to do so at the client’s worksite, or do occasional rentals of conference rooms from community centres.
• Will you get a credit card? Will you get a small business loan? Or are you looking for investors?
• A budget for start-up costs, as well as a budget for running the company – overhead costs, expenses, and revenues. If you need to get certification or be trained yourself, don’t forget to include these costs in your budget.
• What will your prices be?
• Marketing: How will you market your business? How much of your time can you spend marketing your business?
Careful planning at the beginning of your business can lead to a much more successful business later on.
Dealing with any problems at the beginning and having a plan for them means you are in control of what happens to your business, rather than just setting out and hoping everything will work out.