“I’ve always thought about doing some consulting.”
“I can’t believe you just went for it. What a leap of faith.”
“I’m planning to consult when I retire.”
These are some of the very common comments I get from teachers and administrators who attend my workshops and professional development sessions. It seems there are many of us who have thought about leaving the classroom or the walls of a district office to forge our own path to navigate the world of education consulting. Starting CollaboratEd had made this the best school year of my life. I’ve discovered a passion and a drive that I never knew I had. I’ve developed a mindset that has made me stronger than I ever thought I could be. And when I come across other educators who tell me they’ve thought about consulting, I tell them to go for it! But I want to do more than just tell people to go for it, I want to help, really help, anyone who is interested in pursuing their passion as a consultant.
In this post I will share some helpful getting started tips, but if you’ve ever thought about consulting, I encourage you to register for my FREE webinar happening April 23nd at 4pm PST where I’ll dive deeper into these tips and do a live Q&A to answer any additional questions you have!
What about education sets your soul on fire? What is your why? What are you most passionate about in the world of education? What are your strengths? (And also what are your weaknesses?) Flush these ideas out as you brainstorm what services you should offer. Maybe you’re a jack of all trades and want a broad audience, or maybe you’re more of a specialist and will do better with a niche offering. I’ve gotten advice to pursue both, so do what feels good for you. For me it’s all about struggling math learners. As a teacher I was passionate about teaching high school intervention math classes and as a math intervention specialist I’m passionate about helping teachers who teach the students who struggle to learn math. I want to give teachers the tools to engage students in mathematics. I want to help change mindsets of teachers and students. I want to empower school and district math leaders to facilitate change within their sites for these struggling learners. So I decided to go with a very niche market for my services. I target secondary special education and general education math teachers and leaders. I want to provide professional development, instructional coaching, and leadership coaching. But be sure to keep an open mind, you will fine tune and change courses many times while you find your groove! You’ll also need to make sure there is a need and interest in the services you seek to provide. Once you have some ideas, reach out to your network and run your ideas by them. Do they seek those types of services?
Choosing A Name
You’ll have to decide whether you want your consulting business name to use your name, ie: Juliana Tapper Consulting, vs a name that describes your services or industry a little bit more. I chose the latter, naming my business, CollaboratEd. I wanted people to recognize my business as being in the education sector and for potential clients to understand our work will be collaborative. As I was researching, ‘how to choose a name for your business’ I came across the following helpful question to get the creative juices flowing: If your company name could only convey one concept, and only one, what would it be?
Once you decide on a name you’ll have to register your business LLC in your state. This can be done online through your Secretary of State’s website. Expect a fee.
Creating a website it vital! Think about how you judge businesses or restaurants by their website. The same will be true for your business. I use wix for my website and absolutely love it. It’s incredibly intuitive and I get tons of compliments on how professional my website looks. They have wonderful demo pages and templates for you to look through for inspiration. Website tip: Brainstorm your overall design and text before getting into editing the actual website. Cohesion and flow is vital!
Becoming an Entrepreneur
I went to school to become a math teacher, not an entrepreneur! I do not know the first thing about marketing and sales techniques! You will have to educate yourself on some business basics so you can reach your desired client.
My favorite way to gain new knowledge about business tactics and entrepreneurship is by listening to podcasts. I’ll share all of my favorites in the webinar, but the podcast I love the most is hands down, Entrepreneur’s On Fire, by John Lee Dumas. Subscribe and “prepare to ignite!”
There is a fantastic FREE mentoring program for entrepreneurs called SCORE that my friend recommended. You answer a few questions and the program will match you with a mentor. My mentor, Keith, has been amazing! He was incredibly helpful in the beginning of starting my business to help hold me accountable to the business side of things. I could ask him questions about marketing or finances, all those things they definitely don’t teach you in teacher school. I'll be giving away the business plan template on the webinar! You won't want to miss it! I rolled my eyes at the lengthy business plan first, but it ended up being INCREDIBLY helpful to thoughtfully go through sections like competition, pricing, and budgeting.
This will be a big focus in the webinar as it has been the most vital shift in launching into this unknown world of consulting. If you’re going to be successful in this new venture, you have to go after this harder than anything you’ve ever done before. You have to have the mindset that there is no other option. You have to grow thick skin because you will hear “no” more than you hear “yes.” You have to bounce back and keep fighting for your passion. And others will notice this shift in your mindset. My dad recently told me, “It’s like you’ve found this new part of yourself.” And my insanely supportive husband said, “You have made something out of nothing.” And I have. There was no job application, no salary, no step and column progression. You truly earn every single dollar you make and it’s amazing and terrifying all at the same time. It requires a shift in your mindset, one that will grow you more than you ever imagined.
I hope you’ve found a few helpful tips to get you brainstorming and started! But I want to hear from you! Fill out this anonymous survey and share what you want to know in order to start YOUR own consulting business. Then make sure to register for the FREE webinar, happening April 23rd at 4pm PST to hear the response!