How to Start a Consulting Business

The dictionary defines a consultant as “an expert in a particular field who works as an advisor either to a company or to another individual.” Sounds pretty vague, doesn’t it? But unless you’ve been in a coma for the past decade, you probably have a good idea what a consultant is.

Businesses certainly understand what consultants are. In 1997 U.S. businesses spent just over $12 billion on consulting. According to Anna Flowers, spokesperson for the Association of Professional Consultants in Irvine, California, the association has recently noticed an increase in calls for information from people who want to get into the business. “The market is opening up for [the consulting-for-businesses] arena,” Flowers says.

Melinda P., an independent consultant in Arlington, Virginia, thinks more people are getting into the consulting field because technology has made it easier to do so. “The same technology that has helped me to be successful as a consultant has made it easier for others to do the same,” she says.

A consultant’s job is to consult. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s that simple. There’s no magic formula or secret that makes one consultant more successful than another one.

But what separates a good consultant from a bad consultant is a passion and drive for excellence. And–oh yes–a good consultant should be knowledgeable about the subject he or she is consulting in. That does make a difference.

You see, in this day and age, anyone can be a consultant. All you need to discover is what your particular gift is. For example, are you very comfortable working around computers? Do you keep up with the latest software and hardware information, which seems to be changing almost daily? And are you able to take that knowledge you have gained and turn it into a resource that someone would be willing to pay money for? Then you would have no trouble working as a computer consultant.

Or are you an expert in the fund-raising field? Maybe you have worked for nonprofit agencies in the field of fund-raising, marketing, public relations or sales, and over the years you have discovered how to raise money. As someone who has turned a decade of fund-raising successes into a lucrative consulting business, I can tell you that fund-raising consulting is indeed a growing industry.

Things to Consider Before You Become a Consultant

  • What certifications and special licensing will I need? Depending upon your profession, you may need special certification or a special license before you can begin operating as a consultant. For example, fund-raising consultants don’t need special certification, although you can become certified through the National Society of Fund Raising Executives. And in some states, you may need to register as a professional fund-raising consultant before starting your business.
  • Am I qualified to become a consultant? Before you hang out your shingle and hope that clients begin beating your door down to hire you, make sure you have the qualifications necessary to get the job done. If you want to be a computer consultant, for example, make sure you are up to date in the knowledge department with all the trends and changes in the computer industry.
  • Am I organized enough to become a consultant? Do I like to plan my day? Am I an expert when it comes to time management? You should have answered “yes” to all three of those questions!
  • Do I like to network? Networking is critical to the success of any type of consultant today. Begin building your network of contacts immediately.
  • Have I set long-term and short-term goals? And do they allow for me to become a consultant? If your goals do not match up with the time and energy it takes to open and successfully build a consulting business, then reconsider before making any move in this direction!

Top 20 Consulting Businesses Thriving Today

Although you can be a consultant in just about any field these days, the current top 20 consulting businesses include:

1. Accounting: Accounting is something that every business needs, no matter how large or small. Accounting consultants can help a business with all of its financial needs.

2. Advertising: This type of consultant is normally hired by a business to develop a good strategic advertising campaign.

3. Auditing: From consultants who audit utility bills for small businesses to consultants who handle major work for telecommunications firms, auditing consultants are enjoying the fruits of their labor.

4. Business: Know how to help a business turn a profit? If you have a good business sense, then you’ll do well as a business consultant. After computer consulting, people in this field are the next most sought after.

5. Business writing: Everyone knows that most businesspeople have trouble when it comes to writing a report–or even a simple memo. Enter the business writing consultant, and everyone is happy!

6. Career counseling: With more and more people finding themselves victims of a corporate downsizing, career counselors will always be in demand. Career counselors guide their clients into a profession or job that will help them be both happy and productive as an employee.

7. Communications: Communications consultants specialize in helping employees in both large and small businesses better communicate with each other, which ultimately makes the business more efficient and operate smoothly.

8. Computer consulting: From software to hardware, and everything in between, if you know computers, your biggest problem will be not having enough hours in the day to meet your clients’ demands!

9. Editorial services: From producing newsletters to corporate annual reports, consultants who are experts in the editorial field will always be appreciated.

10. Executive search/headhunter firms: While this is not for everyone, there are people who enjoy finding talent for employers.

11. Gardening: In the past decade the demand for gardening consultants has blossomed (pun intended) into a $1 million-a-year business. Not only are businesses hiring gardening consultants; so are people who are too busy to take care of their gardens at home.

12. Grantsmanship: Once you learn how to write a grant proposal, you can name your price.

13. Human resources: As long as businesses have people problems (and they always will), consultants in this field will enjoy a never-ending supply of corporate clients, both large and small. (People-problem prevention programs could include teaching employees to get along with others, respect and even violence prevention in the workplace.)

14. Insurance: Everyone needs insurance, and everyone needs an insurance consultant to help them find the best plan and pricing for them.

15. Marketing: Can you help a business write a marketing plan? Or do you have ideas that you feel will help promote a business? If so, why not try your hand as a marketing consultant?

16. Payroll management: Everyone needs to get paid. By using your knowledge and expertise in payroll management, you can provide this service to many businesses, both large and small.

17. Public relations: Getting good press coverage for any organization is a real art. When an organization finds a good PR consultant, they hang on to them for life!

18. Publishing: If you’re interested in the publishing field, then learn everything you can and you, too, can be a publishing consultant. A publishing consultant usually helps new ventures when they are ready to launch a new newspaper, magazine, newsletter–and even websites and electronic newsletters.

19. Taxes: With the right marketing and business plan (and a sincere interest in taxes), your career as a tax consultant can be very lucrative. A tax consultant advises businesses on the legal methods to pay the least amount of tax possible.

20. Writing services: Anything related to the written word will always be in demand. Find your specialty in the writing field, and the sky will be the limit!

Target Market

Your idea may be the best one you have ever thought of, but there needs to be a market for your ideas. Someone must be willing and able to pay you for your expert advice.

In other words, who are your potential clients? Will you be marketing your consulting services to large corporations? Or will you offer a specialty that would only be of interest to smaller businesses? Perhaps your services will be sought after by nonprofit organizations. Whatever the case, before you go forward, make sure you spend time preparing both a business plan and a marketing plan. You won’t be disappointed with the results–especially when clients begin paying you!

Continue reading the rest of this article here: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/41384

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10 questions about Brexit’s impact on the auto industry

The shock waves from the U.K.’s historic vote to leave the EU are about to hit the global auto industry.

Analysts predict that falling sales and rising costs are the most likely outcomes for automakers as Europe’s second-largest car market begins severing long-standing ties with the region that buys the greatest proportion of the U.K.’s home-produced vehicles.

It comes at a bad time for the world’s automakers.

“Brexit adds further ballast to an already struggling ship,” said London-based Evercore ISI analyst Arndt Ellinghorst. He listed concerns over U.S. sales, industry disruption, regulatory headwinds and uncertainty over future mobility.

Brexit is bad news for Ford and General Motors, which are battling for profitability in a region already hard on the bottom line. “We’re taking a chunk out of the sales forecast so the two biggest sellers in the country, Ford and [GM’s] Vauxhall, will likely be affected the most,” said Ian Fletcher, principal analyst for IHS Automotive.

The two biggest importers into the country, Ford and Volkswagen Group, are most at risk from the pound’s fall in value against the euro, but PSA Peugeot Citroen will also be hit, analysts predict. Japanese automakers exporting from Japan are also suffering as the value of the yen strengthened on news of the British vote.

Automakers could move production elsewhere if the EU imposes tariffs on U.K.-made vehicles. GM’s plant in Ellesmere Port is considered most at risk because of the high imported content of the Astras made there.

Carmakers are pushing for a deal with the EU that retains access to the single market. “Leave” voters are likely to reject that. Until the decision is made, manufacturers are hastily making contingency plans for all outcomes.

“We hadn’t planned for Brexit. No one had,” said Tony Walker, deputy managing director of Toyota’s U.K. car-making operations. “We were all expecting a narrow vote for “Remain.’ Even the bookies said that, and they’re never wrong.”

Here are some of the key questions arising from Britain’s vote to withdraw from the EU.

• How will automakers’ and suppliers’ earnings be affected?

They’ll take a knock, analysts predict. Evercore ISI has cut its 2017 earnings-per-share predictions for German, French and U.S. manufacturers by 8.9 percent and for global suppliers by 3 percent.

Japanese automakers’ operating profit is likely to fall 15 percent as the value of the yen rose against European currencies and the dollar after the Brexit vote, according to JP Morgan. Of those importing into the U.K., the bank predicts Mitsubishi and Mazda will be hit hardest, followed by Toyota.

Automakers were already struggling to make money. “Europe has gone from the most profitable region in the world in 2007 to the least profitable,” said Erik Jonnaert, secretary general of ACEA, the European automakers association, citing the cost of meeting increasingly stringent regulations.

• What would a breakup of the EU look like for the auto industry?

Not good. “If the EU breaks up, the whole automotive supply chain would be in disarray” as border crossings are reinstated, investment bank RBC Capital Markets wrote in a note. “It could take years and a lot of capital to get supply chains back to more cost efficient levels.”

A return to national currencies would mean a return to Germany’s strong deutsche mark making its exports uncompetitive, which would affect U.S. suppliers.

“While we are not forecasting it, we have to believe that the odds of the disintegration of the EU have risen,” RBC wrote.

• How will U.S. dealership groups with U.K. operations, such as Penske Automotive Group and Group 1 Automotive, be affected?

“The main problem for dealers is the uncertainty,” said Sue Robinson, director of the U.K.’s National Franchised Dealers Association. Concerns include what happens to pan-European dealer contracts once the ties are severed. “We’ve taken quite a lot of legal advice on this but all the lawyers are saying is that everything is pure conjecture at the moment,” Robinson said. Broader worries include possible pricing increases and expected loss of sales. So far, no one is reporting a drop in demand.

• Are Ford’s and GM’s European recoveries at risk?

Almost certainly. The U.K is the biggest European market for both companies, with Ford heading GM’s Vauxhall as the country’s two most popular brands. The country is “fundamental” to Ford’s return to profitability in Europe, Ford of Europe’s CFO, Lyle Watters, told Automotive News last year. Ford of Europe reported healthy profits for the first quarter this year, but the weakening pound exposes the company to a currency hit because it imports all its U.K.-sold vehicles, mostly from Europe.

GM is better positioned because it makes cars and vans in two U.K. factories. Last week, GM’s chief economist, Mustafa Mohatarem, argued that that Brexit might have a positive effect on U.S. sales because it meant U.S interest rates would be less likely to rise, preserving low-interest auto financing.

• How will suppliers be affected?

Dan Sharkey, a suburban Detroit lawyer whose firm Brooks Wilkins Sharkey & Turco represents more than 150 suppliers, said Brexit will affect only a few of those clients.

“England is a pretty small market, nowhere near Mexico, nowhere near China. It’s not a huge issue. But for those who are there it’s huge. If they negotiate new trade deals that are very close to what they have now, the panic may be for naught. The question is: What’s going to replace this? The answer is: Nobody knows. Until we know what replaces it, we don’t know how scared we should be.”

• What is the future of U.K. auto manufacturing? Who is most likely to leave?

The U.K. plant most likely to shut is GM’s Ellesmere Port factory, which makes the Vauxhall Astra subcompact hatch and station wagon, argues Garel Rhys, emeritus professor of motor industry economics at the U.K.’s Cardiff Business School. “It’s the most vulnerable,” he said. His reckoning is that Ellesmere Port’s cars’ low 25 percent local content rate makes the plant less “anchored” compared with factories whose products have more parts sourced in the U.K. Offsetting that is the Ellesmere Port plant’s fresh trade-union agreement, a new model to build and improved productivity.

• Are U.K. car prices likely to rise?

So far only PSA Peugeot Citroen has said that Brexit likely will mean price increases in the U.K., but the fall in the pound’s value against the euro makes that inevitable. As of Thursday, June 30, the pound stood at 1.20 euros, down from 1.36 at the beginning of the year, hitting the big importers such as PSA Peugeot Citroen and VW Group.

• What about Jaguar Land Rover’s special agreement on carbon dioxide emissions?

The U.K. government helped Jaguar Land Rover reach a deal with the EU whereby its cars were handed a much less onerous fuel economy target come 2020-21. Without it, JLR would have to bring the average economy of its SUV-heavy lineup to roughly that of a subcompact. Will it still stand?

“It’s a fair question,” said ACEA’s Jonnaert. He believes that if the U.K. joins the wider European Economic Area trading bloc, the special deal will still apply. But if the country rejects that route, which looks likely because that option would come with all the same EU rules U.K voters rebelled against, then it will have to renegotiate. That could force JLR to accelerate its electric vehicle plan.

• Will the U.K. have the same fuel economy and emissions requirements?

Yes. 57 percent of the 1.6 million cars the U.K. built last year are sold into Europe and they will still need to conform to EU regulations. That means hitting stringent targets for gasoline and diesel emissions, as well meeting crash standards.

• Could the U.K.’s automakers weather a 10 percent tariff to sell into the EU?

Cardiff Business School’s Rhys said yes, thanks mainly to their productivity, led by Nissan’s Sunderland plant. “We are the most productive country in Western Europe, twice as productive as the French and Italians and ahead of the Germans too,” Rhys said. So far no U.K.-positioned automaker has said it will alter its investment plans.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20160702/OEM/307049963/10-questions-about-brexits-impact-on-the-auto-industry

One becomes two for Armstrong: Flooring company makes its debut

Armstrong Flooring made its debut today.

Armstrong Flooring made its debut today. – (Photo / File)

The wait is finally over in Lancaster County.

Armstrong Flooring Inc., a spinoff of Lancaster County-based Armstrong World Industries, made itsofficial debut today.

News of the planned split of the company’s flooring business was first announced in early 2015. 

Leaders of the Manor Township-based manufacturer have said the division will allow each company to sharpen its focus without having to compete against the other for corporate resources and attention. Industry officials expect the move will help Armstrong be more innovative and improve market share.

It’s a move that has arguably been in the works for about a decade following the company’s emergence from bankruptcy in 2006. The company sold off its sports and textile flooring subsidiaries in Europe in 2007, sold its cabinet business in 2012 and exited its European flooring business in late 2014.

Armstrong Flooring, which will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol AFI, is expected to begin regular trading on Monday. That company has about 3,700 employees worldwide and 17 manufacturing facilities in three countries.

AFI’s corporate headquarters is located at the current AWI headquarters in Lancaster County.

Check back for updates.

Armstrong CEO Matthew Espe stepping down April 1

March 17, 2016 — When Armstrong World Industries announced last February that it would be spinning off its flooring business into a separate public company, CEO Matthew Espe’s future was undecided.

Armstrong World expects April 1 separation of flooring business

Feb. 22, 2016 — The planned separation of Armstrong World Industries Inc.’s flooring and ceiling businesses, a move that has already cost the company $34.3 million, is expected to be done by April 1, company officials said.

Armstrong cites exchange rates, spin-off costs for earnings drop

Oct. 29, 2015 — Armstrong World Industries Inc. reported a 35.1 percent decline in net income during the third quarter, with earnings per share coming in 20 cents below analysts’ expectations.

Armstrong World Industries Inc. officially files for separation

Oct. 8, 2015 — Armstrong World Industries Inc. of Manor Township has registered its official desire to spin-off a new public company, Armstrong Flooring Inc.

Armstrong split designed to enhance focus

Oct. 2, 2015 — For decades, flooring products and ceiling products rose and fell together inside Armstrong World Industries Inc.

Armstrong names executives for flooring spin-off, reports Q2 earnings

July 30, 2015 — Armstrong World Industries Inc. unveiled more of the executives expected to lead its flooring operations after it is spun off into a new company.

Armstrong World asbestos trust sells $86M in stock

May 29, 2015 — The Armstrong World Industries Inc. Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust sold off more than $86 million in Armstrong Wold Industries Inc. stock, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Armstrong World Industries posts 1Q loss

April 30, 2015 — Armstrong World Industries Inc. reported a 79 percent decline in net income during the first quarter.

Armstrong World Industries spinning off its flooring business, beats Q4 adjusted earnings

Feb. 23, 2015 — Manor Township-based Armstrong World Industries Inc. announced today it is spinning off its flooring business into a separate public company as it also reported mixed earnings for the fourth quarter.

Armstrong World Industries Inc. to exit the European flooring business

Dec. 11, 2014 — After years of steady losses, Armstrong World Industries CEO Matthew J. Espe said the Manor Township-based company is exiting its European flooring business.

Armstrong lowers annual outlook, citing price and capacity challenges, competition

Oct. 14, 2014 — Ahead of its third-quarter earnings release on Oct. 27, Manor Township-based Armstrong World Industries Inc. on Monday lowered sales expectations for 2014.

Armstrong World Industries kicks off $41M Lancaster expansion project

April 11, 2014 — Armstrong World Industries kicked off construction Friday of its new $41 million Lancaster facility, where it is expanding its manufacturing capability to include luxury vinyl tile.

No ownership change at Armstrong — for now

March 5, 2014 — Armstrong World Industries Inc. said a secondary public offering of 3.9 million common shares won’t require an ownership change in its tax status, but that expensive ownership change could be coming.

Armstrong World shareholders offer stock valued at $306M

Nov. 7, 2013 — The secondary public offering of 6 million common shares of Armstrong World Industries Inc. will start at $51 a share, the company announced today.

Armstrong World Industries announces executive changes

Nov. 5, 2013 — Lancaster County-based Armstrong World Industries Inc. today said it is making several changes to its executive structure prompted by the retirement this month of Armstrong Flooring Products CEO Frank J. Ready.

Armstrong World Q3 earnings down 20 percent

Oct. 28, 2013 — Lancaster County-based Armstrong World Industries Inc. today reported that its third-quarter earnings were $50.4 million, a 20 percent drop from the year-ago quarter, as the company readies to bring some manufacturing back to the U.S.

Armstrong World Industries picks Lancaster for its new $41M tile factory

Oct. 10. 2013 — Armstrong World Industries Inc. today said they have chosen Lancaster for a new $41 million luxury flooring tile production line that the company is reshoring from China

More here: http://www.cpbj.com/article/20160401/CPBJ01/160339911/one-becomes-two-for-armstrong-flooring-company-makes-its-debut

Better Business Bureau warns of roofing scams

Many North Texas residents are reeling after a series of overnight hail storms pummeled homes in Plano, Lewisville, Flower Mound and other cities last week.

BBB Dallas sees spikes in complaints for roofers proceeding spring hail storms – sometimes as soon as the next heavy rainfall occurs. To help prevent further financial loss and frustration among residents that experienced property damage, BBB Serving Dallas and Northeast Texas offers tips for repairs after hail storms.

“The most important thing is to avoid high-pressure sales pitches and be wary of individuals that ask you to sign over your whole insurance check,” said Phylissia Landix, spokesperson for Better Business Bureauserving Dallas and Northeast Texas. “That’s why BBB has assembled tips on storm repair, recovery and relief on our website to help find trustworthy roofers, avoid scams and be savvy when paying contractors.”

Find BBB’s tips on storm repair, recovery and relief online at bbb.org/dallas/get-consumer-help/storm-and-disaster-tips/.

BBB Dallas reviewed its files after the recent storms, identifying over 50 roofing businesses that have an “F” rating in its 13-county service area. In 2015, BBB Dallas received 1058 complaints against roofing contractors. The highest spike in complaints against roofers in 2015 happened at the end of the year in December. This spike correlates with Dallas’s record November rainfall and hail storms and subsequent December tornadoes. A spike in roofing complaints in December is unusual, as BBB finds that customers traditionally work with roofers in the summer months.

According to BBB Scam Tracker (bbb.org/scamtracker), BBB’s interactive tool that tracks reported scams throughout North America, there have been at least 175 scams reported that deal with home repair since Feb 2015. 16 of those victims were in Texas. Seven were in the Dallas area.

Some main points from tips on storm repair, recovery and relief:

Find trustworthy businesses:

  • Don’t let your emotions get the better of you. Don’t make hasty decisions about contractors. Make temporary repairs if needed (keep receipts), take photos or videos, and contact your insurance agent as soon as you can.
  • Don’t sign over your entire insurance check. Pay in installments for repairs, so that you don’t lose the entire amount if you encounter a problem.
  • Get references from friends and relatives and contact Better Business Bureau to obtain free Business Reviews on any business you are considering hiring by visiting bbb.org.
  • Insist on a written contract. The agreement should specify the work to be done, the materials to be used, and the price breakdown for both labor and materials. Get a copy when you sign it.
  • Review all documentation before signing on the dotted line and before making any payment. Be sure it specifies the schedule for releasing payments to the contractor. Ask for a start and end date for the work to be done.

Avoid scams:

  • Be wary of door-to-door workers who claim to have left-over materials from a job “down the street” or who do not have a permanent place of business.
  • Be careful allowing someone you do not know inspect your roof. While most roofing contractors abide by the law, an unethical contractor may actually create damage to get work.
  • Beware of high-pressure to sign right away. This is a sign to look at an offer even more carefully.
  • Report to BBB Scam Tracker and check BBB Scam Tracker first. If a scenario seems strange, use caution. Check at bbb.org/scamtracker/dallas to see if other people in your area have reported a scammer. You can also report a scam if you find that you have fallen victim, so that you can warn others.

Read more here: http://starlocalmedia.com/theleader/news/better-business-bureau-warns-of-roofing-scams/article_78539966-f516-11e5-bc21-ffddb3f7efe4.html