Today, terms like “social distancing”, “shelter-in-place” and “work from home” are becoming common. The Coronavirus Pandemic is changing the way we live and do business. It is forcing businessmen and workers to reassess and adjust in order to survive these hard times.
The good news is that the internet is Covid-19-free. This is why it is ideal for businesses to focus their efforts online because many people are turning to the internet not only to stay connected but also to shop, do business or get advice in order to avoid close contact with other people.
Transitioning or starting a consultation business from the physical world to the digital is relatively easy. If you’re a consultant who wants to go online we have some tips for you so that you can capitalize on this opportunity.
Assess Your Strengths and Skill Set
Most of the time, consultants are hired in order to solve problems businessmen can’t. Therefore, it is important to have a deep knowledge in an area that can offer value to your clients. Otherwise, why would they hire you if they know how to solve their problems?
There are many kinds of consultancy services you can offer. For instance, if you have a lot of knowledge and experience about computers, you can be an IT consultant. If you specialize in accountancy or taxes, you can be a financial or tax expert.
Assess your strengths so that you know which areas you can be of service. Take a look at your weaknesses and missing skills too so that you can work on filling those gaps. Depending on your expertise, you might also need certifications or licenses before you can provide consultancy services.
What Does Your Market Need?
Consultancy is a service so you need to be ready to provide what your market needs in order to be successful and relevant.
Start by identifying a niche and think what kinds of questions and pain points businesses in your area of expertise have. The best way to find out is to ask. Start by finding online blogs in your niche. What are thought leaders writing about? What area has a lot of confusion? What debates are they having in the comments section?
Another source of information is your network. Chances are, there will be people who are willing to talk to you about your industry, what areas need to be improved or the current trends.
Get Ready To Go Online
If you already have a consultancy business and want to go online or if you’re found a niche and is ready for the internet, the next step is to get ready to go online. Before doing so, you need to arm yourself with the right tools in order to make the job easier.
Some of the most basic tools include:
- Video calling software for direct communication with clients.
- Messaging and email service for communication.
- Calendar for scheduling appointments.
- Online payment system for receiving payments.
It is better to find an all-in-one system in order to consolidate and simplify your business.
As a consultant it is important that you have an easy way of communicating with clients. Video calls are a good option because it takes the place of a face-to-face conversation. It also makes the whole experience more personal and professional. In times of social distancing and stay-at-home orders, video calls are the next best thing.
Emails and messaging services are important too. This is a good platform for exchanging and sharing files and communicating when video calls are not possible.
You need to be on top of appointments too so having a calendar for better scheduling and to remind you of appointments is important. The calendar should also allow clients to confirm and cancel their appointments automatically.
Lastly, you need a streamlined online payment system. This can be tricky because not many clients want to pay upfront. A good compromise is to have a payment in escrow. The money is then transferred when the consultation is over.
Set Up Your Website
Now that you have the necessary tools in place, you can begin setting up your website. If you’re a total newbie to website creation, you can follow the steps here so that you can get your business online.
Basically all you need are 3 things:
- A domain name.
- Website hosting.
- A website platform like WordPress.
WordPress is a good platform for newbies because it is easy to set-up, free to use and has a robust community for support. WordPress is also the preferred platform of over 30% of websites online so you’re in good company. Constant Contact website builder, Weebly and Shopify are good options too.
Promote Your Website
Your website can’t generate revenue unless you promote it. Once you’re online you need traffic in order to generate leads and sales. Therefore promoting your website in order to let people know that you exist is important.
Some of the best practices for website promotion include:
- Good SEO practices including local SEO
- Promoting on Social Media
- Pay-per-click advertising
- Use landing pages
- Online directory listing
- Email marketing
Always remember that people need to know about you in order to avail of your services. Advertising and promotion can cost money but it is essential in order to make money. You can always start small with word-of-mouth advertising but the beauty of being an online consultancy service is that people around the world can hear about you and contact you. This gives you a wider reach compared to brick-and-mortar consultancy services.
The Covid-19 Pandemic is keeping us apart from each other, but it does not necessarily mean that we’re alone. Being online means being connected not only with family and friends, but also with clients and customers.
Transitioning from physical and digital is not hard. Learning how to do it with research will pay off in terms of being more accessible to clients even when we can’t do business normally in times of social distancing and work from home orders.