Lance Cody-Valdez is a freelance writer who grew fed up with corporate marketing and decided to put his experience and professionalism to better use. Writing for the NPA, Lance explores the boundary between IT and entrepreneurism. Ready for positive change? Check out Lance Cody-Valdez's blog!
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4 Types of Consultants Your Business Should Be Utilizing
Running a business takes a lot of hard work. Even if you’re an expert in your field, sometimes it can be overwhelming to tackle every aspect of daily operations while managing employees. That’s why it’s so important to seek quality advice and guidance from consultants across many areas; not only can they help you grow your business exponentially, they can assist in making sure that you’re able to run things to the best of your ability, reducing stress and creating a cooperative and healthy work environment.
You can look for top leaders in these fields to help guide you through some of the most important facets of business.
A financial consultant will take a look at the big picture for your business, assessing debt and expenses, as well as income, to get a feel for what type of goals you should be setting and how to get there. They can also help manage investments for their clients and give advice on what type of business entity is best for their needs.
If your consultant recommends forming an LLC--or limited liability company--due to the flexibility and tax benefits it will afford you, do some research to find out which steps are involved as each state is different. You’ll need to start by making sure your business’s name is unique and available in the system. If you don’t have time to research the process, hire a formation service like Zenbusiness to help.
Like a financial consultant, an IT consultant can help in several areas, from finding and analyzing security threats to your company to improving the efficiency of the systems you use for inventory, payment, email, and more. If your company relies on any kind of technology, it can be extremely beneficial to have a consultant who can help implement new projects and support in-house IT staff. In some cases, they may even be able to provide training to your employees. They can also provide a financial overview for your tech ideas, letting you know how much you can expect projects to cost.
Just as important as your business’s finances and tech are your employees. Sometimes, even if everything is running smoothly, it can be helpful to have a consultant who can handle things like onboarding or managing teamwork. An HR consultant can also assist with making changes to management or creating a plan for reorganizing different departments, which can be tricky or overwhelming for business owners to navigate. If you believe your company needs help with making workflow and productivity more efficient, an HR consultant can be of great help.
No matter how big or small your business is, it’s a good idea to have someone on your team who understands legal matters and can help you navigate issues related to contracts and other documents, legal disputes, banking, or employee matters. They can also assist with things like debt collection, an unfortunate but sometimes necessary action that most companies must face. As a business owner, it’s important to protect your company, assets, and employees, and a legal consultant can do all that and more.
Finding the right consultant could make a big difference for you and your business and could save you quite a bit of time and money. Do some research to find out what a specific consultant will bring to the table and make the most of their services.
If you’re an IT professional, join the Network Professional Association to improve your skills and network with like-minded IT professionals.
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How to Make the Leap from Freelancer to Small Business Owner
The best freelancer treats their career as if it were a business. Adopting that business focus helps you keep your clients satisfied and ensures you dedicate time to planning for the growth of your freelancing project. But what if you want to take the plunge and transform your humble gig into a full-fledged business? With the skills you developed as a freelancer, running a business should be no problem! TheÂ Network Professional AssociationÂ shares a few things to keep in mind as you venture further down the path toward entrepreneurship.
Keep Your Costs Under Control
It can be tempting to put a lot of money into your new business, but try not to get carried away. Launching a small business doesn’t have to drain your savings. If you’ve been freelancing from home all this time, consider running your new business from home, as well. You can always rent an office space or meeting room if you need more space for your business activities.Â
Generally, it’s always better toÂ rent an officeÂ than to buy one. This is because you never know what could happen with the future of your business, and it’s good to have the flexibility that a rented space affords.
Make Use of Time-Saving Tools
As you start taking on more clients and hiring freelancers of your own, you will need to find ways to manage the growing demand on your time. Fortunately, there is no shortage of automation tools at your disposal. As one example, an online invoice generator can help you regulate your cash flow by ensuring that you get paid the right amount on time. When using anÂ invoice generator, fill out all the invoice details with your business information including company name and contact information (e.g., email, phone number, and address), then preview it to make sure everything is correct. Make sure you don’t leave out any important particulars like your billing terms and any sales tax or shipping costs.
As you onboard any team members, look into other time-saving tools likeÂ collaboration appsÂ (e.g. Trello, Monday.com, Asana, and Slack) to help you manage projects and keep everyone on the same page.Â
Prioritize Content Marketing
Whether you’re trying to keep your marketing costs under budget or you want to position yourself as an expert in your niche, content marketing is your answer. It’s cheap, effective, and popular among consumers.Â Content marketingÂ will allow you to deliver specific messages to different client demographics and truly personalize your marketing approach. This is a great way to expand your client reach and land bigger projects for your growing business.Â
Not sure how to get started?Â Host a podcast, start a blog, create informative YouTube videos, or launch an Instagram page to showcase your work.Â
Don’t Neglect Your Existing Clients
As your business grows, it’s important to look to the future. Just don’t forget about your current clients! Throughout your freelancing career, you’ve developed some great professional relationships. Reach out to your clients, let them know that you’re launching a business, and ask if they would refer you to others who would benefit from your services. These referrals might just be yourÂ biggest sourceÂ of qualified leads as you get off the ground.
Many small business owners try to hide the fact that they’re operating as a one-person show. But masquerading as a much larger business could actually hurt your brand. In reality, itty-bitty businesses like yours are in a great position to connect with clients on aÂ deeper level. Today, big businesses are constantly rebranding to appear smaller, more approachable, and more friendly to the everyday consumer.Â
Be honest and confident about your small size, putÂ your faceÂ on your brand, and let your personality shine through in your communications. Your clients will appreciate it more than you may think.
If you feel like your freelancing career has reached a plateau, launching a business could be a great next step. Making the leap from freelancer to business owner is a lot easier than starting a business with zero entrepreneurial experience. With the skills you picked up through freelancing, you should be well-prepared to run a business of your own.
The NPA gives IT professionals the opportunity to improve their skills and network with skilled IT professionals across the globe.Â Join us today!