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How to set up a contractor business

How to set up a contractor business guide covers qualifications, consultations and business promotion details for an IT contractor. 

Typically, an IT consultant would cover design, development, installation and implementation of IT projects or systems. Some IT consultants would also offer clients’ staff training on new systems and aid with technology selection and procurement for the business. 

There is no legal requirement to hold a qualification to set up a contractor business; however, most consultants are able to work as such because they are experts in their field. This means that in practice most IT consultants will need to hold some recognisable qualifications and relevant experience in order to generate work. Similarly, most consultants are likely to hold a membership in a professional body, such as the BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT. 

It is a BCS requirement that their members stay up to date in knowledge and continue to develop their skill range. For more information specifically on professional development from BCS see www.bcs.org/membership/become-a-member/continuing-professional-development-cpd 

Along with many online webinars, the BCS also holds lectures in various locations around the UK. These conferences cover topics such as software development, security protocols and data protection legislation. 

Being an IT consultant, an initial free consultation is the most usual way to meet potential clients, allowing the client time to discuss the project with the consultant. 

However, larger businesses with specific IT needs may have a clear idea of what they need from an IT consultant; these initial meetings may take a similar form to a job interview. Especially for a self-employed IT consultant who made first contact through a speculative email. 

Smaller potential clients, who may not have a defined idea of what IT they need for their business, may need the initial consultation to help clarify what the objective is and decide how this is to be met. Having a clearly defined conclusion at this stage will avoid potential problems once the client has been engaged.   

After the initial consultation, the IT consultant would prepare a fully costed proposal, demonstrating the client’s requirements. This proposal would need to include as many specifics as possible; the exact nature of the consultation including both deadlines and outcomes, along with details on how the recommendations and ongoing process will be reported to the customer. Many IT projects are notorious for evolving as they are put into practise, therefore a good contract and a detailed discussion with your client is essential to avoid further issues towards the end of a project. 

There are various consulting proposal documents available to download for free, one we have found in how to set up a contractor business  www.template.net/business/proposal-templates/consulting-proposal-template

Along with the proposal template, you would need to provide a copy of your standard contractual terms and conditions. These together will form the legally binding contract once the new client accepts the proposal.

Promotion is a very important consideration in how to set up your contractor business.

Profiles on professional networks like LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) allows you to highlight your experience and gather introductions. There is also the option to use LinkedIn’s targeted advertising service which would allow you to advertise and promote yourself to other professions and businesses on LinkedIn. See https://business.linkedin.com/marketing-solutions/ads for advertisement options. 

Further networking opportunities can be made if you join a professional membership body such as BSC or the CMI. Both these organisations have an online register of members thus providing business networking opportunities for members. 

Facebook profiles can be tailored to your IT business with your consultancy details. When regularly updated with photos, articles and examples of work these can generate business through referrals. Facebook.com/business can give more information on how Facebook can be used to promote your business. 

Creating a video presentation of an aspect of your IT consultancy and the services you offer then uploading it to a platform such as YouTube with a link back to your consultancy website can give you exposure which translates into a client base. There are various examples of other IT consultants doing the same as can be found on YouTube. 

Various free online marketplaces, such as Guru or Upwork, enable freelance consultants to create a free basic profile and then they charge a service fee, generally a percentage of any contract gained through the site. 

Local advertising in hard copy or online versions of business directories; Yellow pages and Thompson Local, online Google My Business and Yahoo Local all provide the opportunity for free listings. 

Lastly, for worldwide opportunities in IT see Envato Studio. 

In conclusion, you should consider membership or accreditation options. A clear and precise proposal along with your terms of business will help alleviate any potential misunderstandings between yourself and a client. With various opportunities for an IT consultant to promote their services hopefully soon you will have work prospects rolling in. 

All our IT consultant business registrations will receive a free comprehensive business report including market trends, legislation and workplace practices. To register as self employed or as a limited company, and claim this report click here. Not sure if you want to be limited or self employed? click here.