View Full Version : Starting a (very) small business consultancy

24-03-2011, 03:02 PM

Would appreciate some feedback on setting up a small retail business marketing consultancy.

My Mrs is an experienced marketeer (public sector though) and very project driven and I have a design (account management) experience for a major UK company and have a strong print knowledge and lots of freelancer contacts to call upon. I now work in procurement and am gaining more and more buying/commercial and contract skills. We also both have a good understanding of social network marketing.

However neither of us have small business retail experience. What we do have though is a keen eye and we always notice shop displays and marketing materials (flyers etc) from small companies and discuss how they could have been improved.

A basic recent example of this was that a pub nearby us recently relaunched offering stone baked pizzas. The flyer was riddled with errors and I though there were far more things they could have done.

My concerns are would businesses believe in our experience as we are not hugely experienced in this?(but marketing basics are the same in all sectors as is a good eye and understanding for print and design).

A guerilla beginning tactic I have in mind is to contact companies such as the pub pointing out our observations and what services we could offer. However Im not sure if this could be construed as rude and people might think how dare they?!

I do believe we have enough experience and could sound suitably impressive. The plan would be to start very local and charge very little, even offer free test cases to begin with, the idea being we learn and help each other.

Start up costs could be low, just need to fit round our baby boy and full time jobs!

Any thoughts and insight gratefully received.


24-03-2011, 04:20 PM
I would say price reflects experience, and whether or not it'll work would perhaps depends on your expectations of what you want to earn. I would say start cheaply, maybe at just 100 a day or something like that - and then as you gain experience and a portfolio of clients you can up your price. If I was paying "the going rate" I wouldn't choose someone who doesnt have proven experience and track record, but if I was paying a cheap rate then I'd be more concerned with whatv they say they can do and I'd take their word for it and give them a try.

25-03-2011, 07:00 PM
I think it is advisable to do some test cases first. Maybe approach a charity shop because that way you will have a bigger name to add to your portfolio and you could be potentially making a real difference. And most charity shops I see could do with marketing advice.(Its also better giving services away for free to a charities );)
Do as much research as possible and just be confident with your approach. In business no matter what big corporation you are from, people still buy from people. A potential customer will have to buy into you and what your saying.

29-03-2011, 09:22 PM
As a small-business/e-business consultant, I find one of the things you have to realize is that people are naturally afraid that you're going to screw them over. That they're going to come to the end of your working relationship feeling stupid. Feeling that they've wasted time, money and energy.

So your main focus should be to answer all those niggling question before they sway your potential customer's mind.

1. You think they may see you as inexperienced; well, maybe you are, maybe you aren't. In this case, offering your services for free or very cheap may be an option, if you can afford it. But these first few clients should NOT just be about proving to future prospects that you're amazing. It should be for YOU to perfect everything you want to achieve from your business.

You should let these clients know UP FRONT, that in return for this amazing deal they're getting, that you want as much feedback as they can give, so that you can be the best damn consultant you can be.

This is what I did when starting out. I offered consulting cheaply (but not for free, as I needed there to be some motivation for the client to carry out some of my ideas). But I made clear that this service I was offering was not perfected yet, and that I needed to make some adjustments, so could they bare with me, and let me know anywhere I could improve.

This way, we both ended up helping each other, and in return for that, I offered them some free consulting just to say thanks, because I can't help but be nice :p

2. They think they may not get their moneys worth; Well. This is where preparation comes in. Always, always, ALWAYS prepare to massively over-deliver. With consulting, a lot of work comes from word of mouth, so all of your clients should be going round to their mates saying 'OH MY GOD, I'VE JUST STARTED WORKING WITH THIS AMAZING CONSULTANT!'. And voila! they've got their moneys worth.

But to grab their attention in the first place, you need to offer a guarantee. Not just any guarantee, mind. Offer a guarantee that's phenomenal. How about 'if you don't improve your sales by x% after implementing just 10 of my strategies, I'll give you 100% of your money back, PLUS and extra 10%.

Or 'We only accept payment based on results'.

This shows real guts. Real confidence in yourself. Sure, there's a bit of a risk, but generally, as a consultant you SHOULD be sure that your techniques will improve business, or else, why else are people paying you?

3. Don't undersell yourself; a consultant working for 15 per hour really doesn't give off the right impression. But you already know all this.

4. Relationships, NOT clients; I know I've used the words 'clients' a lot, but I really hate that term. My 'clients' often become more like friends. I REALLY want to get to know them. To know what kind of lifestyle they're working toward. To help them achieve that in whatever way I can. TO make sure everything I do is working not necessarily to more SALES, but to more HAPPINESS in that person's life.

And so one aspect of this is to make sure you continue communication way after your consulting period. Become genuinely interested and passionate about your 'client's' business. Show real excitement when something works out. Show sympathy when something goes wrong. But don't fake it. BECOME INVOLVED. This works wonders for repeat customers and recommendations, and also makes your woek so much more enjoyable and rewarding.

Anyway, sorry for waffling, there's just my 2 korunas worth.

If you want a consultant to help with your consulting firm, you know where I am! ;)

15-04-2011, 08:09 AM
I think you're on the right track. You have the right decision on investing your future by starting out a small business consultancy. I prefer you need to have an advice or need to have a consultation to a well known Consulting Firm.

UK IT Consultancy

16-04-2011, 11:53 PM
I would advise that you do some courses in your chosen area for business entry as this will give you credibility amongst clients. You don't need to spend years training but all the same talking from a personal perspective I would be unlikely to buy a service from someone with no experience or relevant qualifications.

If not, act as if, model yourself on a company that are successful in this space, put some material together and try to get small businesses to listen. Establish their needs and sell back to this using USPs you create for your business offering.