Below you will learn the key steps to starting a safety consulting firm.
10 Steps to Starting a Safety Consulting Business
1. Conduct Market Research To Determine Demand
An important step to starting a safety consulting business is conducting market research. To begin, you must learn what services your clients want and how much they are willing to pay for them. There are two ways you can go about conducting this research:
- Primary Research: This involves conducting surveys and interviews with your target market to find out their needs and wants. This is a more time-consuming process, but it gives you a better understanding of your target market’s buying habits and what services they are most interested in.
- Secondary Research: This involves studying industry trends and statistics to get an idea of the demand for safety consulting services. This is a quicker and less expensive process, but it doesn’t provide as much detailed information about your target market’s needs.
Once you have analyzed the survey data, determine which types of businesses are likely to hire you and how much they are willing to pay. Use this information to set your consulting prices.
2. Name Your Safety Consulting Business
Once you have analyzed your market and determined what services clients want, it’s time to name your safety consulting firm. While naming a business can be difficult, there are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind:
- Keep it Short: Your business name needs to be short enough for clients to remember and say.
- Keep it Relevant: Your business name should be relevant to the safety services you offer and your target market’s needs.
- Keep it Memorable: Using clever ideas and words, help your audience connect with your business.
- Focus on Your Target Market: Make sure that whoever sees or hears your company name understands who you are targeting as clients.
Read our article about choosing the right business name.
3. Choose Your Business Structure and Set-Up Your Company’s Legal Entity
As with any business, the type of legal entity you set up is critical. After all, you want your company to be treated as a separate entity, not just an extension of yourself. There are several types of structures in which you can start your safety business consulting company. Three popular options are sole proprietorship, S-corporation and LLC (limited liability company).
- Sole Proprietorship: A sole proprietorship is one in which the business and the owner are considered to be one entity. Therefore, you are personally responsible for all debts and liabilities your safety business consulting firm may incur. One benefit of this type of structure is that it’s easy to set up and there are no formal filings required.
- S-Corporation: An S corporation is a type of C Corporation that was designed by the IRS to help small corporations minimize their paperwork while still gaining many of the tax benefits of incorporating. It also offers protection for business owners in case of lawsuits and other liabilities.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC): An LLC is a structure in which the company is considered a separate legal entity from its owners. This means that the company is responsible for its own debts and liabilities. This type of structure offers protection for business owners in case of lawsuits.
Read our article comparing the most common consulting business structures.
4. Write a Safety Consulting Business Plan
A business plan is a document that outlines your business goals, strategies, and how you plan to achieve them. For a safety consulting company, your business plan should include the following:
- Business Description: Describe what your company does, who your target market is, and how you will differentiate yourself from the competition.
- Industry & Market Analysis: Detail your research on the industry and what services clients are most likely to want.
- Financial Plan: Outline your estimated income and business expenses for the next three to five years.
Other sections of your plan will answer other key questions such as the following:
- What are your areas of expertise?
- What services can you offer your clients?
- Who is your target audience?
- How will you differentiate yourself from the competition?
Your business plan should also include several sections that detail your company’s history, current financial situation, and future goals. These sections will allow an investor to learn more about your company before they commit to investing in it.
Read our article about how to write a consulting business plan.
5. Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses
You must register your safety business consulting business as a legal entity with the state in which you plan to do business.
To file your business with the state, obtain the necessary forms from the Secretary of State’s website or local County Clerk’s office. You will be required to pay a small fee for filing your business with the state.
Registering with the federal government may or may not be required. You can register your business on the federal level by obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS.
Read our article about obtaining the proper consulting business licenses.
6. Determine Your Budget & Apply for Funding as Needed
As with any business, you will need to use your own capital to finance the initial stages of your safety business consulting company. Your budget may also include several other costs including marketing expenses and the salary you wish to pay yourself.
After determining how much money you will invest in starting your business, review some options for financing your business. Here are several financing options that may be available to you:
- SBA Loans: The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a government agency that provides financial assistance to small businesses in the U.S.
- Bank Loans: Many small business owners are able to secure loans from their local banks. Often, you can borrow money for any purpose that relates to the growth of your company.
- Friends and Family: You can consider getting loans and/or equity investments from friends and family members..
- Angel investors: Angel investors may provide debt or equity funding to you.
Read our article about the costs associated with starting a consulting business to help you determine if funding is needed.
7. Get the Technology & Software Needed to Run Your Safety Consulting Firm Efficiently
As a safety consulting firm, you will need different types of technology to complete projects and keep track of your company’s operations. To simplify the process of starting a consulting business, we’ve provided a list below detailing some items that you’ll need:
Computers: Even if most of your work is done remotely with clients on the other side of the country or world, you will need at least one computer that is dedicated to your safety consulting firm.
Software: Software is an essential component of any consulting business. The right software can help you manage projects, track expenses, and communicate with clients more effectively.
Here are some popular software platforms that may be beneficial to your business:
- Microsoft Office: This software suite includes a variety of applications that can help you manage your company, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
- QuickBooks: This software is designed for small businesses and can help you track income and expenses, create invoices, and manage payroll.
- Basecamp: This project management software can help you manage multiple projects simultaneously and keep track of deadlines and milestones.
- Gmail: Google’s email platform offers several features that can be helpful for businesses, including the ability to access the same email from multiple devices.
- CRM: Customer relationship management software can help you track customer communication, manage leads, and create reports that detail your sales activities.
Other software for safety consultants may include:
- OSHA Recordkeeping
- Health and Safety Plans
- HAZCOM Training Programs
Read our article about the technology and software you need to run a consulting business.
8. Market Your Safety Consulting Firm to Potential Clients
Once you’ve established your safety consulting firm, the next step is to market it to prospective clients.
Here are some common marketing strategies used for safety consulting firms:
- Networking: Meeting people in person and developing relationships is a key component of any business. Attend industry events, meet with colleagues, and get involved with trade associations.
- Online marketing: Marketing your business online, such as through a business website and pay-per-click and/or social media marketing, can help you reach a larger audience looking for your services.
- Promotional Materials: Create promotional materials that can help you introduce your company to prospective clients. This may include a company overview, case studies, project proposals, business cards, and testimonials.
You should also consider ways to incentivize potential clients to choose you over another safety consulting firm. Some incentives that work well include:
- Lower rates: Many consulting businesses offer lower rates on their services to attract more clients.
- Discounts on services: Offering discounts on certain projects may help you win bids against other companies.
- Free consultation: Providing potential clients with a free consultation can help them determine if your company is the best one for their needs.
Learn more about how to market your consulting business.
9. Establish a Price Structure and Billing System
There are a few factors to consider when establishing your price structure:
- Hourly rates: Charging by the hour is a common way to price consulting services. This allows clients to budget for your services and gives you the flexibility to charge more for complex projects.
- Project rates: Charging a flat fee for a project can be beneficial for both the client and the consultant. It ensures that the client knows what they are paying up front, and it allows the occupational safety consultant to charge more for more complex projects.
- Retainers: A retainer is a set amount of money that the client pays upfront for services. This can be a good option for clients who need regular consulting services.
No matter which pricing structure you choose, be sure to clearly communicate it to your clients. Additionally, have a detailed invoice template that includes all the safety services you provided so the client knows exactly what they are paying for.
10. Manage Client Relationships and Deliver Projects
After you find clients, you should begin working on and delivering the projects and getting paid. This means managing client relationships and making sure that clients are happy with your work. Some of the ways to manage relationships with your safety clients include:
- Regular communication: Establish a regular communication schedule with your clients and stick to it. This could include weekly or monthly phone calls, email updates, or even in-person meetings.
- Regular project updates: Send your clients regular project updates so they know what you are working on and the progress you have made.
- Frequent invoicing: Send invoices as soon as the project is completed so the client knows how much they owe and can pay you promptly.
Delivering projects on time and within budget is essential for a safety consulting business. It can be beneficial to create a project management plan that outlines how each project will be completed. This will help ensure that all deadlines are met and that the client is happy with the final product.
Learn more about how to effectively manage client relationships.
Starting a Safety Consulting Business FAQs
There are a number of reasons why starting a safety consulting business may be a good idea. Some of the benefits include:
- You can work from home: A safety consulting business can usually be run from home, which means you have more flexibility with your time.
- You can set your own hours: You can choose the hours you want to work and the days you want to work.
- You can work with a variety of clients: A safety consulting business offers the opportunity to work with a variety of clients in a range of industries.
- You can be your own boss: As the owner of a safety consulting business, you are in charge and make all the decisions.
There are a few things you will need to start a safety consulting business, including:
- Business name and logo
- Business cards
- Marketing materials
In order to be successful, you will also need to have the following:
- Knowledge of safety programs, regulations and best practices
- Strong communication and interpersonal skills
- Project management skills
- The ability to work independently
The following tips can help you to start a safety consulting business:
- Do your research: Be sure to do your research and understand the safety consulting industry so you can create a business that meets the needs of your clients.
- Establish yourself as an expert: In order to attract new clients, you will need to establish yourself as an expert in the safety consulting industry.
- Develop a marketing plan: A marketing plan will help you to reach your target market and attract new clients.
- Create a website and branding materials: A website and branding materials are essential for any business and will help you to stand out from the competition.
- Offer a variety of services: In order to appeal to a wider range of clients, offer a variety of services.
- Stay up to date with safety regulations: Keep up with the latest safety regulations so you can advise clients on the best practices.
- Maintain a positive attitude: A positive attitude is essential for any business owner as it will help you to stay motivated and focused.