Considering Starting Your Own Marketing/Consulting Business? Here's Where To Begin
If you’re ready to start your own business, a certification is a wise investment.
By John Becker
If you check out any given marketing agency’s website, you’ll likely see a list of past clients.
Often it’s just their corporate logos displayed under a header that says something like “These organizations have trusted us" and maybe also see something about how long the agency has been in business.
Below, you’re likely to find industry certifications: HubSpot partner, Google Ads, and more.
If you’re considering starting a new agency or consultancy, you don’t have access to years of successful clients to add clout to your new business.
Without that social proof, how can you get clients to trust your ability? Much of this I'll cover below, but there's a big headstart you can give yourself: Consider investing in a certification to demonstrate expertise and give your new business credibility.
Make no mistake: Starting a new business is not an easy thing to do (which is why I’ll first go over the wrong reasons to do so), but if you’re ready, I’ll cover the basic things you need to get started — all of which are below.
In this article, I’ll explain:
- Why a certification should probably be one of your first investments
- What you actually need to start your own business
- The wrong reasons to start your own marketing business
What do you need to start your own marketing or consulting business?
Businesses come in all shapes and sizes, and their needs vary accordingly. What follows is not an exhaustive list of operational tasks such as picking a name, starting an LLC, or designing a logo.
Instead, you'll find the why behind all of those things. The boxes you need to check to know that this is the right move for you.
You need a strong desire for independence
Being a small business owner is not for the faint of heart. Yes, there is the potential for tremendous upsides, but it’s tough to be in charge, even if you’re your only employee.
It can also be lonely.
Before you start, be sure you’re ready for the life of a sole proprietor or entrepreneur.
You need expertise
If you're in this position, you've likely accrued years of experience. Maybe you've climbed the ladder within an agency or an internal marketing team, and you've gained experience along the way.
While your agency is new, you are not, and this experience is a critical component of your new venture.
You need a client base
A business needs paying customers to operate. The beauty of starting a small agency is that you won’t have much overhead. You still need clients, though.
You could certainly start your business as a side hustle — working with just one or two clients at first and testing the waters. Then, if it grows into something tenable, you’re not taking as big a leap of faith.
But as strong as the bonds you have with your current clients are, you should not try to poach them or bring them with you from your current position.
That’s an easy way to create bad blood. Poaching clients also might violate a non-compete clause in your current employment contract. You don’t want your first few months as a new business owner to be embroiled in a lawsuit with your past employer.
Finding clients can be tricky, so start by using your network and referrals to make inroads. You can check out our more in-depth summary in this article: How To Get and Keep Great Clients for Your Marketing Agency (Acquisition & Retention Strategies)
You need an expanded your skillset
The reality of running your own business is that you’ll end up spending way more time on business administration tasks than you do right now.
Sure, you get stuck in your share of meetings now, but a business owner — even if the company is just one or two people — spends a good deal of time on the stuff a larger company has people dedicated to. Things like:
- Finance and payroll
You might love sales and hate finance, but you’ll have to do them both — or hire a team member or freelancer to help you. And you may end up doing less work with clients because you have so many other tasks that have to get done.
You need a vision
For years, business writers have pointed out the dangers of just trying to be better at something than the competition. Often, a new business will try to stand out in a crowded field by offering a faster, cheaper, or better alternative than what’s already out there.
While this sounds like an attractive business plan, it’s not a strategy for long-term growth. This is known as “the better trap” and it holds you back for two reasons:
- If your only differentiator is that you are better, then your advantage evaporates the second someone comes along who does it better than you.
- "Better" is inherently a subjective word. Does Honda build a better car than Volkswagen? Does one law firm offer better counsel than another? Even related words like “faster” or “cheaper” may not be clearly objective.
Being a business or marketing consultant is no different. If you seek to stand out only by saying you’re a better agency, you’re not going to really stand out.
Instead, you need a vision that sets you apart.
At IMPACT, we train business coaches to enact a vision that’s unique, profitable, and proven.
Instead of becoming just another agency or consultant, our graduates offer their clients a fresh approach to marketing and sales that delivers life-changing results by taking ownership of their own strategies.
If you’re serious about starting your own business, our certification program could be exactly what you need to feel prepared.
A certification is short-hand for competence
As a new agency or consultant, you don’t have access to years of happy clients or the clout that comes with a decade in the trenches.
So, how do you sway a potential customer?
For a visitor looking over your website, a prominent certification is the quickest way to inspire confidence and show you know what you're talking about. A certification tells the world that you’ve achieved something in your area of expertise.
But not all certifications are created equal
Certifications come in all shapes and sizes. And while they all convey accomplishment, the weight of that accomplishment varies based on two factors:
- The rigor of the certification process
- The reputation of the granting institution
In other words, how long did it take, how hard was it, and who certified you?
Some certifications can be wrapped up in an hour or two. Some take years. While any certification can have value, the more rigorous the process, the more we tend to respect it.
A They Ask, You Answer certification from IMPACT shows that you’ve undergone months of rigorous training, including personalized feedback from master coaches.
Standing out with a They Ask, You Answer coaching certification
When you become a certified They Ask, You Answer coach, you’re instantly aligned with a sales and marketing framework that’s respected worldwide.
Because thousands of businesses have already used They Ask, You Answer to grow — and because every year more people buy the book, hear Marcus speak, or read about it on IMPACT’s blog, you’re part of a movement.
Our certified coaches come from all over the world, but they have many things in common. Chief among them is that they want to help businesses grow with a proven framework.
Join a growing They Ask, You Answer movement
Developed by Marcus Sheridan, They Ask, You Answer is the premier inbound marketing framework because it unites sales and marketing around shared revenue goals.
And more and more businesses are catching the vision.
Every year, millions of people learn about They Ask, You Answer through IMPACT’s website, where they read our blog, listen to our podcasts, watch our videos, and learn from our guidebooks. And they head to IMPACT+, our online learning community, to dive deeper into all things They Ask, You Answer.
Or, they buy the book or hear Marcus speak about his methodology.
They Ask, You Answer (the book) was recently named by Book Authority as the No. 1 marketing strategy book of all time.
As a Certified They Ask, You Answer Coach, you become part of a growing movement. As a new business, you suddenly have a recognizable and sought-after brand in your corner. You can lead clients to success using the framework, and you can do it at higher profit margins than the typical agency model allows.
Set your business up for long-term success
If you’re an experienced marketer or consultant thinking about starting off on your own, it’s important to be clear about the realities of small business ownership.
When you’re ready to get started, invest in a respected certification to boost your credibility, attract clientele, and give yourself the confidence to lead clients to prosperity.
To hear more about how IMPACT became a They Ask, You Answer agency — and revolutionized the way we help clients in the process — check out this podcast that explains our journey.
If you’d like to learn how our certification program can equip you to stand out as a marketing expert, talk to one of our advisors. Every day, we help people like you gain the skills they need to grow their careers.