Category Archives: Consulting Services

Best Home Business Consultant

The following is excerpted from Entrepreneur magazine:
“The dictionary defines a consultant as “an expert in a particular field who works as an advisor either to a company or to another individual.” Sounds pretty vague, doesn’t it?

Businesses certainly understand what consultants are. In 1997 U.S. businesses spent just over $12 billion on consulting. According to Anna Flowers, spokesperson for the Association of Professional Consultants in Irvine, California, the association has recently noticed an increase in calls for information from people who want to get into the business. “The market is opening up for [the consulting-for-businesses] arena,” Flowers says.

Melinda P., an independent consultant in Arlington, Virginia, thinks more people are getting into the consulting field because technology has made it easier to do so. “The same technology that has helped me to be successful as a consultant has made it easier for others to do the same,” she says.

A consultant’s job is to consult. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s that simple. There’s no magic formula or secret that makes one consultant more successful than another one. But what separates a good consultant from a bad consultant is a passion and drive for excellence. And–oh yes–a good consultant should be knowledgeable about the subject he or she is consulting in. That does make a difference.

You see, in this day and age, anyone can be a consultant. All you need to discover is what your particular gift is. For example, are you very comfortable working around computers? Do you keep up with the latest software and hardware information, which seems to be changing almost daily? And are you able to take that knowledge you have gained and turn it into a resource that someone would be willing to pay money for? Then you would have no trouble working as a computer consultant.”

Be the best home business consultant that you can be. As your home consultancy grows be sure to request testimonials from satisfied customers. These can be displayed prominently on your website.

A Guide on How You Can Use Websites to Pay the Bills

In the golden age of ecommerce, it has never been easier to set up and start generating a profit online. If you have a product to sell, or you’re looking to make money from your blog, this post will tell you how you can use websites to help you pay the bills.

Step One: Choose a Niche

As the range of goods and services available online is extensive, you should start off approaching your home business idea with your interests at the forefront. If you have a passion for dance, for example, consider setting up an online store for dancewear and accessories. This will help you solidify your brand messages, as you will already know the kinds of products and ads your audience wants to see.

If you have no particular hobby or interest in mind, and you just want to make a profit as quickly as possible, set up a general store with a generic name. Buy a .com domain name, as these sites carry the most authority with consumers.

Step Two: Research Your Audience

This is arguably the most crucial stage in making money online. You need to make sure you have the market for your business idea. There are many tools you can use to research things like audience demographics, preferred social media networks, even the types of posts audiences prefer.

Collect insights such as the influencers people follow, the publications they read, the products they buy, how much income they have, etc.

Collate this data into one large document and divide your customers into suitable segments. This exercise is essential because not all customers are created equal. Some audience sections will spend more with you than others. Therefore, you must be able to differentiate and encourage buying behaviors that meet your customers where they are in the buying cycle.

Step Three: Set Up Your Site

The number of channels you can sell through is ever-expanding, so you should consider your customers’ needs and your ability to deliver. For example, if you are selling digital products, you can set up on Etsy, or you can self-host through your own store – or both!

You will also need to consider your abilities when setting up. ‘Plug and play’ ecommerce hosts like Shopify can help you get up and running quickly. Platforms like Magento can also be a good option for those with web development skills who may be looking for more customization.

Step Four: Choose Your Products

Once you’re all set up, it’s time to get your shop stocked. You can use a wholesaler (where you buy in bulk and resell), or you can use a drop shipping model. Drop shipping is an excellent option for those starting a business from home. Under these plans, you make a subsequent order, and your supplier handles the inventory and shipping.

With a few clicks, you can import goods into your store to start selling. Make sure you provide detailed descriptions with all of the benefits listed. Use keywords to help you optimize for the search terms your audience will be using to find you.

Don’t forget: it’s worth going to the effort of shooting original product photos. You need to make your shop unique from the rest, so give this step some thorough consideration.

Step Five: Advertise to Your Segments

Regardless of what you’re selling and on what channel, you will need to invest in some paid advertising. Facebook is a great place to start, as the engagement figures are enormous. From your research, refine your ad targeting. Instagram is another excellent platform to use.

With both Facebook and Instagram, you can find apps that allow you sell directly from your social media account. You can also take advantage of the top influencers on these sites and approach them with a personalized pitch and sponsorship opportunity.

The more effort you put into getting the word out, the better off you’ll be. Set a daily budget for paid advertising, research your channels, and look for forums and guest blogging opportunities in your niche.

Step Six: Automate Your Processes

You want to make money as quickly as possible, so make sure you automate things like sales tax collection, record keeping and social media posting using whatever apps and plugins are available through your ecommerce host.

Alternatively, you can choose to hire a virtual assistant to help you post and process orders from your store. Take advantage of the automated help available and concentrate on making engaging marketing content to draw in buyers.

Making money online can be easy, provided you take some time to research your niche thoroughly. Automate the processes as much as you can, and you could start generating a healthy profit in no time.

Victoria Greene

Victoria Greene is a branding expert and writer. She runs a blog called Victoriaecommerce. Here, she likes to share tips to wannabe entrepreneurs looking to start a business from home.

8 Great Online Tools for the Self-Employed

As everyone who has launched their own business knows, becoming self-employed can seem like a double-edged sword. You have all the benefits of being your own boss, choosing the direction your business takes, and selecting the team you work with.

However, as Benjamin Parker often told a young Spiderman, “with great power there must also come great responsibility.” After all, if things do not go as planned, you are the one who will have to bear the consequences. And even when things are running smoothly, you remain at the center of the entire enterprise, which can often mean juggling several obligations at once.

 

Intro Image small

Credit: pexels

 

Fortunately, the online market is already a step ahead, providing a wide range of handy business tools and must-have labor-saving solutions. The functionality of these tools covers everything from productivity tracking to accounts management, and can save you time and effort in all areas of your business.

Naturally, there are too many to list here, but these are a few favorites that every entrepreneur should check out.

 

1. Camcard

In the early weeks of your business, and even during the pre-launch phase, the chances are that you will pick up a lot of new contacts, particularly if you visit trade shows or other industry events. Yet keeping track of these connections can be tough, especially if you find yourself searching through a growing stack of business cards.

Camcard enables you to scan these cards, saving them to your phone, where you can sort, tag, and share them with ease. This means you never need to lose track of that promising supplier or prospective client.

The app also allows you to add notes and reminders to cards, receive news about the businesses your contacts work for, and even exchange e-cards with other users by filling in your profile via the app.

 

2. Hemingway

Creating high quality written content can be a challenge, and it is all too easy to fall foul of your own bad habits. The Hemingway App helps you to review your work, and offers suggestions for improving your style and tone. The app also has limited word processing functionality, and allows you to include basic formatting such as italicizing and emboldening text.

The app is simple to use, and provides a clear, color-coded key with explanations of each point, along with a dropdown displaying details such as your word count, and estimated reading time. The readability grade represents the lowest level of education required to understand your writing.

This tool can be particularly useful for fine-tuning your copy, particularly if you are repurposing written content for a new audience. But don’t be too alarmed if your work lights up like a corrective rainbow; writing is always subjective, and you should not sacrifice your brand’s voice just to improve your “score”. After all, according to the app, even Hemingway himself had room for improvement.

Credit: Hemingway App

 

3. Harvest

Hemingway himself kept a large chart on which he recorded his daily wordcount, to keep track of his productivity, or as he put it, “so as not to kid myself”. Perhaps if he were writing today, he might have used Pacemaker to save himself the trouble.

Of course, it is likely that you need to keep track of more than just your word count each day. Fortunately, there are some fantastic time-tracking resources, such as Harvest, which enable you to record not only your own productivity, but that of your entire team.

This facilitates invoicing, and allows you to learn more about how and when your team works best. Coupled with their companion app, Forecast, the data recorded with Harvest can also be used to improve your scheduling, and generate accurate estimates for project completion.

 

4. Receipt Bank

Keeping track of your finances is critical for any self-employed individual, especially if you have set up an ecommerce business, where you may have no direct contact with your customers. Unpaid invoices can soon take their toll, as can drawn-out payment disputes, particularly when you have a lot of data to comb through.

Receipt Bank cuts down on time-consuming data entry and invoice management, by automating receipt processing, sending reminders to clients with outstanding invoices, and even logging communications with clients and colleagues, for easy referencing, and improved dispute resolution.

Not only does this help you to boost trust and relationships with your customers, but it also enables you to more effectively keep track of payments, and monitor fluctuations in your business.

The service is also fully integrated with many leading accountancy packages, including Sage, QuickBooks, and Gusto.

 

5. Trello

When it comes to managing your time, and that of your team, not many business tools can beat Trello. This indispensable tool enables you to create individual “cards” for each project, and its objectives, set deadlines, and assign team members to specific cards.

Cards keep track of all changes, comments, and interactions, and team members can upload files, making them accessible to all members of the card to which the file is attached. Even if you are flying solo, Trello is a fantastic way to keep track of your objective, organize your projects, and keep track of your progress.

For a review see The Freelance Effect

 

6. Exit Bee

This handy little CRO tool is a simple but effective means of boosting sales, and engaging intuitively with your audience. Exit Bee tracks the motion of a site visitor’s cursor, and detects when they are about to leave or close your website. The software then creates a tailored message, which is based on the user’s behavior.

For example, this could mean offering a discount on the specific product the visitor had been browsing. Similarly, if they appeared to have given up halfway through your lead capture form, you could provide a simplified version or suggest they create a login so they can save their progress. If the visitor has already made a purchase, it could even be a simple thank you, and an invitation to sign up to your mailing list.

This is an excellent way to secure a few more conversions, while also gaining valuable insights into your customers’ behavior. As you learn what causes people to leave, and more importantly, what convinces them to stay, you can refine your approach, and boost the effectiveness of your website as a whole.

 

7. IFTTT

Once you’ve collected a few helpful tools, you may begin to find that managing all of these apps becomes a challenge in itself. If This Then That offer a platform via which you can get the most out of your apps, by activating “Applets”.

With over 1 billion Applets across more than 500 services, IFTTT allows you to customize your experience, saving you time, and making sure you stay up to date with the topics that matter most to your business. It’s a great small business tool that can be used across a range of departments and teams.

Credit: IFTTT

Of course, there are countless other tools available to help you streamline and automate many of your business obligations. Don’t be afraid to try out new things, and discover what works best for you.

The real value of these tools is that they provide you with more freedom to focus your attention on specific areas of your business, without getting caught up in trivial tasks. For example there may be areas that you do not wish to automate, or aspects of your business that you feel require more personal attention.

 

8. Shopify

One of the joys of being self-employed is that you are your own boss. Being your own boss means running your own business, and for many in the digital world, that business takes the form of an ecommerce store. But setting one up can be tricky. That’s where Shopify comes in.

 

This is not just a tool, but a platform that allows your to build your own online business. It lets you manage the design, look after the difficult issue of taxes, and control the payment and distribution of your goods. It comes with a variety of tools and gadgets, a whole host of helpful training guides, an active blog with useful tidbits, and has the option three different price plans.

 

The real benefit of using this is in the simplicity it brings to you; some of you may be experts in website building and wish to create your own online store. However, for those not versed in the language of code, this tool makes the process of setting up, running and advancing your online business a lot easier than you might think.

 

Whatever you decide, the key to growing your brand lies in embracing the options available, and being ready to change your approach in order to maximize your potential. No one knows your business and its needs better than you, and with the right combination of tools in your inventory, you can ensure your venture achieves the success it deserves.

 

Victoria Greene: Brand Marketing Consultant

I’m an ecommerce marketer by trade and enjoy nothing more than helping self-employed entrepreneurs to meet new business goals. I spend my time dreaming up effective content strategies and I love being instrumental in the success of brands of all shapes and sizes.

So you want to be a consultant

What is your concept of what a consultant does? They consult with businesses, but what is it that they offer that the business can’t handle itself? Generally they have a specialty that the business lacks, or a specialty that is in short supply.

The specialty is often called the consultant’s “niche.” Can you identify your niche? It is important that you be able to describe this niche to the prospective client so that they are clear about what you have to offer.

Specialties include business services for the self-employed. One such company offers “a suite of services for the self-employed” that consists of:

  • Use of our Comprehensive Business Management Software
  • Up to $10 Million in Liability Insurance
  • Contract Review and Administration Services
  • Automated Invoicing and Payroll
  • Expense Compliance Review and Processing
  • Payroll Tax Administration

The list gives you some sense of the areas in which business services for the self-employed would compete. You need not offer all in this list, but the more the better.Another specialty is business strategy planning. Despite the widely held belief that a written strategic plan is vital for business success many companies, if they even write a plan, only give it lip service. A recent survey shows that:

  • 60% of organizations don’t link strategy to budgeting
  • 75% of organizations don’t link employee incentives to strategy
  • 86% of business owners and managers spend less than one hour per month discussing strategy
  • 95% of the typical workforce doesn’t understand their organization’s strategy.

Business strategy planning must include implementation of the plan to be effective. On Strategy defines implementation:“Implementation is the process that turns strategies and plans into actions in order to accomplish strategic objectives and goals. Implementing your strategic plan is as important, or even more important, than your strategy.”

Entrepreneur Magazine defines the difference between a good consultant and a bad one:“… what separates a good consultant from a bad consultant is a passion and drive for excellence. And–oh yes–a good consultant should be knowledgeable about the subject he or she is consulting in. That does make a difference.”

There are some questions that we need to ask ourselves before entering the field:

  • Am I sufficiently qualified to add value to my clients?
  • Am I organized enough to handle multiple clients?
  • Do I have the necessary certifications and licenses?
  • Am I comfortable selling my services?

Good luck!

Consulting Services for Small Business

When an entrepreneur is starting a business he or she is faced with the requirement of several functions in which they might not be experts. They may know, for example, all there is to know about wholesale distribution but have no idea how to build a website.

Since most companies are started with very limited funds, many entrepreneurs are reluctant to set money aside to pay for consulting services to fill in their knowledge gaps. For example, many create a website from the many templates available. Some are even free.

Where the company website is concerned I feel that the use of existing templates is a false economy. The website functions as an online calling card and needs to put your best foot forward. The amount of time required for the entrepreneur to become proficient enough to develop a quality website takes time away from tending to functions relating to product knowledge, operations and management.

Websites, to be noticed, must go through the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) process. This again is a very specialized function that is often beyond the capability of the business owner.

There are functions which may be grouped under the heading Entrepreneurship Knowledge Services that will present the company at its best. In addition to the website and SEO examples these can include Business Strategy Planning and Business Valuation Services.

My recent experience is that the cost of business services for the self-employed is going down. This is simply my experience, and yours can be vastly different, but I got a substantial amount of website design for about $4,000 and SEO for about $2,000.

Your reaction may be that adding $6,000 to your startup expenses is prohibitive, but by farming this out the entrepreneur should find a quicker path to profitability.

John B. Vinturella, Ph.D. has almost 40 years’ experience as a management and strategic consultant, entrepreneur, and college professor. He is a principal in the business opportunity site jbv.com and its associated blog. John is co-author of “Raising Entrepreneurial Capital, now in its second edition. He recently released his latest book, “8 Steps to Starting a Business,” available on Amazon.