Below you will learn the key steps to starting an educational consulting firm.
10 Steps to Starting Your Own Educational Consulting Business
1. Conduct Market Research To Determine Demand
An important step to starting an educational 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:
- Survey your target market. This can be done by conducting online surveys, conducting phone interviews, or sending out questionnaires.
- Review the competition. Look at how other educational consultants are marketing their services and what services they offer. This will give you an idea of what services are in high demand and how you can differentiate yourself from the competition.
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 Education Consulting Business
Once you have analyzed your market and determined what services clients want, it’s time to name your educational consultancy business. 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 education 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 own educational consulting business. 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 education consultancy business 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 an Education Consulting Business Plan
A business plan is a document that outlines your business goals, strategies, and how you plan to achieve them. For an educational 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 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 education consultancy 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 educational 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 Educational Consulting Company Efficiently
As an educational 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 company, 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 educational consulting company.
Software: Software is an essential component of any new 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 educational consultants, 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.
There may be additional software options available for educational consultants, so be sure to ask other educational consultants to find the best options for your business.
Read our article about the technology and software you need to run a consulting business.
8. Market Your Educational Consulting Firm to Potential Clients
Once you’ve established your educational consulting company, the next step is to market it to potential clients.
Here are some common marketing strategies used for educational consulting firms:
- Networking: One of the best ways to market your company is by meeting people and building relationships. Attend industry events, meet-ups, and other networking opportunities to get in front of potential clients.
- 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.
- Blog: A blog is a great way to showcase your knowledge and expertise in the educational consulting industry. Share case studies, how-to articles, and other content that will be helpful to potential clients.
- Website: Your website is the central hub for your business. Make sure it is well-designed, easy to navigate, and provides all the information potential clients need to learn more about your company.
- Referral Programs: Offer current clients a discount or other incentive for referring new clients to your business. This helps build word-of-mouth marketing for your company.
There are many ways to market an educational consulting firm, so be sure to explore all of your options and find the strategies that work best for you.
You should also consider ways to incentivize potential clients to choose you over another educational consulting firm. Some incentives that work well include:
- Lower rates: Many consulting businesses offer lower rates on their services to attract new 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 educational consultant. It ensures that the client knows what they are paying up front, and it allows the 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 educational 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 education services you provided so the client knows exactly what they are paying for.
10. Manage Client Relationships and Deliver Projects
After finding new clients and marketing your educational consulting business, you should begin 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 education clients include:
- Regular communication: Keep in touch with clients regularly, either through email, phone calls, or face-to-face meetings. This will help ensure that they are happy with the work you are doing and that any issues are addressed promptly.
- Project updates: Send project updates to clients throughout the course of the project. This will keep them in the loop on what you are doing and how the project is progressing.
- Client feedback: Ask clients for feedback after every project. This will help you improve your services and ensure that clients are happy with your work.
Delivering projects on time and within budget is essential for an educational 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 an Educational Consulting Business FAQs
There are many reasons to start an educational consulting business:
- You have a wealth of knowledge and experience in the education field (such as, as a classroom teacher, school administration, curriculum developer, etc.) and want to share it with others.
- You are passionate about education and want to help students achieve their academic goals.
- You are looking for a flexible business that allows you to work with the clients you choose.
There are a few things you will need before becoming an educational consultant:
- Strong knowledge of the education system and how it works
- Experience in teaching or tutoring
- Strong marketing and sales skills
- The ability to manage client relationships effectively
The following tips can help you to start an educational consulting business:
- Do your research. Make sure you understand the education system and how it works before starting your business. This will help you to provide accurate information to clients and manage expectations effectively.
- Develop a strong marketing strategy. Marketing is essential for any business, especially a new one. Plan how you will reach potential clients and how you will differentiate your business from others.
- Set your prices wisely. It is important to charge rates that reflect the services you are providing, but also be competitive so you can attract new clients.
- Create a detailed invoice template. This will help ensure that clients understand what they are paying for and that you are billing correctly for services rendered.
- Establish a project management plan. This will help ensure that all projects are completed on time and within budget.
- Manage client relationships effectively. Keep in touch with clients regularly, send project updates, and ask for feedback to ensure they are happy with your work.