Professional Practice for Consultants

Course CodeBBS301
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Learn to be a Consultant and Offer Your Expertise to the World

This course is a valuable guide to setting up and operating a consulting business in any profession. Experts are always in demand by business, government bodies, public organisations and private individuals.

Everyone needs help from time to time from someone who has greater expertise than themself. If you have training, and/or significant experience in just about anything;  you may have the potential to become a consultant in your field of expertise.

This course has been developed to complement studies in the various disciplines taught by ACS, including Psychology, Horticulture, Agriculture, Leisure Studies, Businesss Management and Environmental Management.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Determining If a Consultancy Practice is for You
    • Nature and Scope
    • Pros and Cons of Being a Consultant
    • What is Needed to be a Consultant
    • Codes of Contact
    • Are You Ready
    • Getting Started
  2. Planning a Consultancy Practice: Part 1
    • Methods of Entering Business
    • Deciding Where to Work
    • Equipment
    • Start Up Finance
    • Business Structures
    • Insurance
    • Set Up Costs
    • Having Assistance Available
  3. Planning a Consultancy Practice: Part 2
    • Preparing a Business Plan for a Consultancy
    • Business Plan Pro Forma
  4. Knowing What to Charge
    • Determining Costs
    • Available Work Time
    • Convincing Clients of Value in Your Fees
  5. Setting Up Your Consulting Practice
    • Finding Clients
    • Marketing a Consultancy Practice
    • Establishing a Press Kit
    • Using the Internet
    • Stationary
    • Networking
    • Communications
  6. Keeping Accounts and Records
    • Keeping Records
    • Source Documents
    • Handling Invoices
    • Time sheets
    • Being Organised
  7. How to Generate Business & Keep It
    • Using Agents or Brokers
    • Sub Contracting other Consultants and Support Services
    • Propagating Referrals
    • References from Clients
    • Tenders
    • Writing Articles
    • Successful Client Relations
    • Closing a Deal
    • Keeping Clients
    • Dealing with Clients who Say No
    • Principles of Getting Business
  8. Maintaining Your Consultancy Practice
    • Hiring Staff, Expanding Business
    • Creating Passive Income
    • Working in a Changing World

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Aims

  • Analyse current industry requirements and your individual needs to determine if opening a consultancy is appropriate.
  • Determine the business structure appropriate for your consultancy practice.
  • Produce a business plan and implementation schedule
  • Determine costs involved in setting up a practice and how to set fees.
  • Describe different communication and marketing techniques.
  • Describe different administrative procedures including invoicing and maintaining records and accounts.
  • Determine industry best practice for obtaining and keeping your customers
  • Recognise responsibility towards yourself and employees in maintaining and expanding your practice, and to develop strategies to cater for increased demand.

How Do You Get Started as a Consultant?

The two most common methods of entering a consultancy practice are:

  • starting a new business
  • purchasing an existing business

Starting a new business is the most common start-up method and is probably the most challenging way.  It is also the most risky due to factors such as uncertainty regarding the service and the market, and therefore a greater margin for error. It is advisable to undertake some market research to determine such things as local competitors, demand for your service, rent rates and so on before committing to a lease contract.

Some consider purchasing an existing practice is easier.  As well as taking over that business’s premises, equipment, clients, you also take over contractual and legal rights, employees, goodwill and any outstanding debts.  It requires considerable research and analysis to ensure that what you are buying is a viable concern and worth the purchase price.  An accountant should be involved who can verify the business accounts.  Businesses that have only been running for 12 months or so should be treated with caution.  Remember too, that you can inherit a bad name and in business so the saying goes, ‘bad news travels quicker than good news’.  Any outstanding business transactions need to be completed before take-over or there should be a contract in place that relieves the new business of this pressure.

Depending on your clientele, your capital base and your aspirations, will determine how you set up your office.

Most consulting businesses will need a way to do the following:

  •  produce written documents
  •  set up and monitor their accounts
  •  send and receive faxes and/or e-mails
  •  have clients and potential clients call
  •  let clients and potential clients know that you are in business.

Depending on the type of consulting practice will dictate whether other specialised equipment is needed to carry out your business.

TIP: Before buying/renting sit down and analyse your needs (not your ego or what you had in your last job). Equipment can be very expensive.

Plan Before Going Too Far

There is no guarantee to success in business, but studies have shown that planning greatly increases the likelihood of a business succeeding.

The purpose of a business plan is to create a road map for you to follow to help ensure the success of your practice. Writing one will force you to grapple with, in advance, questions about what you want to accomplish and how you will accomplish it.

When seeking financing the investors or lenders will want to read your plan before they supply you with funding. If you're financing the practice yourself, you will still want to have a written plan to develop business strategies and financial projections. A key element within the business plan is the marketing plan, which explains marketing strategies that will be used to advertise and promote your services. The goal setting steps of the plan will help you to analyse the success of the practice in future years and clearly illustrate the capital needed to operate the company to break-even.

The preparation of a business plan will help clarify your business ideas and establish the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’, and ‘how’ of those ideas.

The development of a business plan will

  • anticipate what your want to happen and identify any pitfalls in advance
  • matches your goals and ambitions against resources and performance
  • examines and develops ideas and thoughts, and justifies time spent on them
  • analyses your activities compared to those of your competitors, and identifies any opportunities and weaknesses which may exist
  • helps generate facts which can be monitored
  • provides benchmarks against which you can measure, compare and evaluate performance in the future
  • gives you more confidence about your ability to set-up and operate your practice
  • demonstrates how much money is needed, what it is needed for, and for how long it is required

 

WHO WILL BENEFIT FROM THIS COURSE?

If you want to operate as a consiltant irrelevant of the industry - tgis course will help you to attain your goals and gather the knowledge and expertise needed.

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