How to Start Your IT Consultancy

IT consultancy

Starting your IT consultancy can be an overwhelming and expensive process. There’s equipment to buy, insurance to arrange and marketing to consider. However, before doing any of this, you need a business plan and a budget so that you know how you are going to meet your financial goals and how you will manage if something goes wrong. Let’s dive into the vital steps you need to take to get your business off the ground.

Determine Your Offering And Structure

From the beginning, you will need to decide what your area of expertise is so that you know how best to focus your efforts. A specialised skill will attract clients with specific needs from within a certain sector, while a more generalised offering will appeal to a broader market. Look at what other IT consultants are doing in your area to see if you can offer something that they don’t or if you do something better than they do. Check how much they charge and how they market themselves.

Next, you need to decide what type of structure your consultancy will follow:

  • One-to-one: this type of structure is mostly conversational;
  • Observational: this involves gathering a lot of information from the client to help them to find a solution;
  • Troubleshooting: this consists of running different tests until you work out the best solution for the client’s problem.

Write Your Mission Statement

A mission statement explains in simple terms what you hope to achieve with your consultancy. Include your personal goals relating to IT and what you think you can do to improve your client’s businesses. What will you do differently from your main competitors?

Decide On The Legal Structure

The legal structure of your business will determine how much tax you pay, how you manage the business, what paperwork you need to complete and more. Some of the options are:

  • A sole proprietorship is one of the simplest forms of business and is also known as a sole trader. This is an unincorporated entity owned by an individual.
  • A partnership is usually owned by two or more individuals and can operate as a sole trader depending on its funding and liability structure.
  • A corporation is referred to as a legally separate entity that can own and sell property and sue or be sued.
  • A limited company is usually divided into shares that are distributed between shareholders.

Choose A Business Name

Your mission statement may inspire your business name, or you can brainstorm ideas by writing words that are associated with your consultancy onto pieces of paper and then seeing if you can match different combinations. 

Think about your target market and audience and what you want your name to tell them about you. Your business name will reflect who you are and what you stand for, so make sure that it is professional and memorable. Look at the names of your competitors and consider what you do or don’t like about them. However, make sure your chosen name is not already in use; otherwise, you run the risk of being sued.

Write A Business Plan

Your business plan should detail the products and/or services that you intend to offer and how they will be advertised and marketed. You should also include details of how the business will be financed and managed. This document will detail how you are going to achieve your goals.

Create A Budget

Consider what finances and costs you will need during your first year. For example, do you need to get a small business loan to help you purchase equipment, such as computers? Do you need to let premises or hire any staff? A budget will help you to plan your expenses and anticipate changes that need to be made to support the business. It can also be used to help you to reach your goals and to track your performance.

Obtain The Proper Licenses And Insurance

Before you start trading, you need to obtain any licenses that apply to your business to ensure that you are trading legally and to hold the business accountable by encouraging best practise. You may require various insurances, such as employers’ liability insurance, professional indemnity insurance, director’s and officer’s liability insurance, contents and portable equipment insurance and cyber liability cover.

Market Your Business

While some consultancies manage to attract customers simply by word of mouth, to grow your business, a more active approach will help you to reach more prospects. Visibility amongst your community and online is an important factor when it comes to marketing.

Be Seen In Your Local Community

To increase your visibility in your local community, introduce yourself to small business owners, volunteer for projects, join networking groups, sponsor local events or partner with a charity. Talk about what your company has to offer and how it can help, and hand out business cards at every opportunity to build a strong network.

Make A Website

A website is an ideal way to ensure people can find and connect with you, but since customers will see your website as a reflection of the quality of your work, you will need to make sure that it is professional, up-to-date and well written. Make your website a resource centre to enable customers to find useful information that adds value to your offering and shows you to be a knowledgeable and trusted consultancy. Include an option for people to subscribe to your website through a newsletter or a blog so that you can gather their contact details. These can then be used to send out email marketing, keeping you at the forefront of your customer’s minds. You will just need to make sure that you adhere to General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Create An Online Presence

Nowadays, many people tend to turn to social media when they are looking for expert advice. Create a Facebook page, a Twitter or TikTok account and post regularly to increase engagement and visibility. Videos tend to attract more views than text, and live videos are even more attractive. You can also use some of these platforms to run sponsored adverts that target your particular audience.

Get Reviews

According to e-satisfaction before visiting a business, 90% of consumers read online reviews and 88% trust reviews as much as a personal recommendation. As well as asking clients in person to leave a review upon completion of a job, you can set up automatic emails that request reviews. Make sure that you highlight all the places that they can leave a review for you, such as your website, Facebook, Google and Yelp.

The Takeaway

Starting an IT consultancy is not an easy business, particularly if you have a tight budget, which is why many people take out a small business loan to help to get things moving. Referrals and reviews are key, and with a little creativity, this is where you can save money from your marketing costs. Knowing what type of company you intend to run will determine the paperwork that you need to complete and maintain to stay compliant and professional. Once you know what steps you need to take, the planning required can run a lot more smoothly even if you are going it alone.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.