Online сonsulting services are in high demand nowadays. According to IBISWorld, consulting industry revenue has grown significantly over the past ten years and will reach $261 billion in 2020. Moreover, the events of 2020 have shown us that moving business processes online is necessary to stay profitable. Consulting over the internet is here to stay. But what exactly is an online consulting business, and who can start one? Keep reading to find out.
What is an online consulting business?
When they hear the term consulting, most people imagine big offices and people in suits who work for enterprises and deal with high risks and many responsibilities. But in fact, being a consultant just means helping a client solve a particular problem by sharing expertise and giving advice. To start an online consultancy you just need to define your niche and turn your attention to helping people solve their problems via online consulting software.
Basic consulting workflow
In addition to providing people with information, a consultant has various responsibilities. Clients turn to consultants in specific situations when they want to achieve specific results. To achieve these results with the least investment of time and money, they seek recommendations from experts. The result of a successful consulting partnership is the achievement of the client’s goals. So how does an expert make that happen?
Let’s see what the hierarchy of consulting purposes looks like.
To adhere to this hierarchy, an expert will have to put much effort into their work. But all the steps in this hierarchy are optional and depend on the method of service given. Consultants deliver their service using various consulting models:
- Strategic consulting – This consulting model requires a long-term relationship. It starts with diving into the company’s affairs and finishes with drawing up and implementing a detailed development strategy.
Example: Managing a client’s acquisition process or helping a client choose a growth channel
- Done-for-you service – This is an extended version of strategic consulting. With this model, the consultant takes responsibility for implementing the strategy with the help of an existing team or outsourced employees.
Example: Choosing and building a growth channel for a client or setting up recommended software
- One-time training – The name of this method speaks for itself. Consultants give one session or multiple sessions over a short period of time. Most often, one-time training is used to educate staff on the skills needed to achieve specific results.
Example: Training a client’s sales team to boost their performance or educating personnel on how to use brand-new software
- Ongoing coaching – This is a popular model for sharing expertise. Usually, it involves one-on-one consultations and can occur in any field, from personal life to business.
Example: Helping business owners with team management or assisting a woman during pregnancy
The consulting model you choose should be appropriate for your niche. Also, it’s a good practice to combine different models to perform effectively. But before you decide on your model, you need to clarify what knowledge you have and would like to share. Then you should learn about different types of online consulting businesses and choose the type that suits you.
Types of online consulting businesses
There are a large number of consulting niches to choose from. The standard rule you should follow is to start by assessing the value you can add. Let’s take a look at the most attractive (and, as a result, most profitable) fields for online consultants.
This is the oldest and most widespread category of consulting services. To be a sought-after management consultant, you need to show a high level of performance. Let’s look at a few examples of possible career paths:
- Strategy consulting. Businesses often take high risks when changing their development approaches. A strategic consultant helps to define development from a long-term perspective and predict market changes.
As a strategy consultant who works for enterprise companies, you should have strong skills in data mining and critical thinking, as well as a deep understanding of the market.
- Human resources consulting. To be successful, every company needs to manage its employees. HR consultants help raise employees’ level of comfort and engagement in the work process. They also educate personnel on conflict management skills and other strategies.
As an HR expert, you may study a company’s work atmosphere and show how to use specialists as effectively as possible.
Corporate consulting opens up a lot of career opportunities. Typically, people in this niche work for corporations and possess more than a decade of experience in their field. Here are the leading areas of corporate consulting:
- IT consulting. As technology evolves, the demand for IT specialists continues to grow. An IT consultant specializes in information technology, data analysis, and the development of software. IT consulting includes various subspecialties such as network and hardware architecture and computer systems analysis.
Being an IT consultant means suggesting useful IT solutions to enhance workflows and share expertise in applying it to achieve first-rate results.
- Business consulting. Business consultants offer specific improvements based on preliminary analysis of business operations. Typically, business consultants are brought in to share expertise with employees.
As a business consultant, you’ll typically cooperate with small and mid-sized companies, analyzing existing strategies and changing them if needed.
Independent consultants are professionals who have decided to start their own consultancy business rather than work as employees. The advantage is that the service individual consultants give can pertain to serious business matters, image consulting, or even creative specialties. Here are some examples:
- Marketing сonsulting. Marketing сonsultants help to evaluate a company’s marketing efforts and suggest ways to increase revenue.
As a marketing consultant, you might offer your expertise in a particular field of marketing: retail, public relations, email, or content marketing. As you develop a marketing strategy, you can participate in any stage of implementing this strategy, helping organizations determine market segments or develop brand awareness.
- Financial сonsulting. Financial consulting includes financial planning, identifying well-suited investments, and guiding insurance decisions.
As a financial consultant, you may handle debts and taxes, help with investments and trades, and advise on other financial matters.
- Career сoaching and сonsulting. Finding a new job or switching fields may be challenging. Sometimes, people don’t understand where to start and what job to choose. Career consultants may guide people through these decisions.
As a career consultant, you’ll assist your customers by searching for jobs, give advice on passing interviews, and help customers find suitable positions.
The online consulting market provides a variety of possibilities to boost your professional skills and increase your income. Whether you’re an independent consultant or a consultancy firm owner, you’ll find your audience for online consulting. If you’re thinking of launching your consulting business online, here’s a useful guide that points out what you can benefit from online consulting software.