Just the idea of starting your own business can elicit all kinds of different feelings, from excitement to hesitation to confidence.
No one ever said that starting a business would be easy, and there's always a great deal of risk involved, but for those rare entrepreneurs who are willing to commit themselves to their business and oversee its growth, the rewards can be staggering.
Today we'll be looking at how to start a public relations consulting business, and while, in the past, we've talked about how to enter the PR industry with little to no previous experience or a degree, starting a consulting business is one venture that shouldn't be attempted cold turkey.
If you're trying to start a PR company, you should already have a great deal of experience in the industry, preferably with big-name agencies that are well-regarded in the PR world.
You should also have many pre-existing contacts with past clients and other PR reps. Going into consultation is not a good idea for people who have a tendency to burn bridges.
Those are the opening notes. Let's get into some specifics, starting with the financial requirements of founding your very own PR consulting business.
As you already know, starting a business takes quite a lot of funding, especially if you anticipate that your operating overhead will be significant.
Thankfully, PR consulting won't necessarily include many of the heavier expenses associated with producing physical products.
As a PR consultant, your product is your expertise. You've already earned that expertise through years of experience, so many of your costs will be associated with marketing, travel, and other normal business expenses, particularly after you hire staff members.
We can't give you a hard number for how much cash you'll need to start your consulting business, since amounts will vary wildly based on the effectiveness of marketing your services and how quickly you find clients.
But as a rule of thumb, you should have at least $10,000 available. It's also important to note that this isn't the number you should have to your name across all accounts and assets.
This needs to be money that you 100% dedicate to your business, which leads to another crucial topic: the risk involved with becoming an entrepreneur.
Everyone knows that starting a business is risky, but until you're out there, risking your own money and time, it's hard to grasp just how risky it can be.
Of course, the biggest risk is to your personal finances. Many entrepreneurs have to leave their current job to start a new business, which means little or no income until the new business gets off the ground.
This is easily one of the most stressful times for any business owner. You'll have to get the word out as well as you can so that you have multiple potential clients within the first few weeks.
Otherwise, you may find yourself dipping into your personal savings to make ends meet for your business.
If you're still determined to start a business with all this in mind, just remember that the more you save up before starting, the more breathing room your business will have.
Every business needs a business plan. Projecting goals and timeframes for those goals will help you retain clarity as you get things moving, and if it's reasonable in its goals and rate of growth, you may even be able to use it to secure outside funding.
You should also have a very good idea of precisely what services you'll be offering to clients.
You may feel the temptation to list every service under the sun, but unless you have the capacity to handle a large amount of work by yourself or with limited staff, you could risk overreaching early on.
Leading into our discussion on marketing, include your list of services on a website for your business so that potential clients will be able to easily find all this information without having to contact you first.
Marketing your business is definitely one of the most important factors to achieving success.
Given the nature of PR consulting, this probably won't include many of the advertising methods the general public is familiar with, i.e. billboards, TV spots, and print ads.
Instead, you need to build your brand in a way that will immediately appeal to other PR professionals.
Your presentation style should be professional and straightforward. Curating your business's website and social media presence can go a long way toward achieving a brand image, and best of all, these are relatively low-cost marketing avenues in the contemporary business landscape.
Outside of online marketing, consider attending PR-relevant conferences in your area, ready with a stack of business cards and charming anecdotes.
Remember those business contacts we mentioned back at the start? Well now's the time to use them.
Compose a feel emails and put some feelers out. It could be that a former coworker now works for a new agency that needs some outside help.
Maybe you went to school with business wunderkinder who are now founding their own startups across many different industries.
Not every lead will result in a steady client, but even just making these contacts aware of your new business can increase the likelihood of future leads and contracts.
Once you start securing more and more clients, you'll be feeding a cycle of revenue and success.
More revenue means more funding, which means more marketing, which means more clients, which means more revenue.
In a best-case scenario, you'll reach a point where you can't handle all the clients yourself and you'll need to hire other consultants.
Alternately, if your past clients include some big names, you can lean into prestige branding and use your limited availability as a selling point, proving how highly sought-after your services are.
Growth is always positive for a young business. Just be ready to work through some growing pains and do your best to expand your company accordingly. If all goes well, the sky's the limit!