If you want to become a business consultant, one of the main questions to consider (along with deciding which entity type to form) is whether or not it’s worth getting a business consultant certification. There are a variety of consultant certifications available to help professionals stand out from the competition and build credibility with clients. Depending on what type of business you’re in and which industries you serve, it might be worth getting extra credentials as a certified business consultant.
Here are a few reasons why getting a business consultant certification can help your consulting business grow.
Get up to Speed on Industry Trends
Some people might be skeptical of the value of a professional consultant certification. After all, if you know your stuff, already have a degree and have been working in the field — how much can a business consultant certification really teach you? It’s true that some professional development programs are overpriced and don’t deliver enough value. But if you choose the right program for your needs, you might discover that earning a consultant certification can give you some added insights into your industry and build your professional skill set.
For example, according to this list of top certifications for consultants, there are a range of certifications available for IT consultants, graphic artists, programmers, project managers, business communications experts and more. Your consultant certification isn’t just a piece of paper — it should help you improve your skills and get smarter about your field in a way that is immediately actionable to help your clients.
Build Credibility With Clients
Depending on which clients and target markets you serve, you might find that a professional consultant certification can help you build credibility and get your foot in the door with clients. Especially in relatively new fields or industry verticals with lots of emerging companies (and where the “experts” are not always very experienced), having a professional certification can be a good way to open up a conversation about your skills and expertise. It’s a way of showing that you’re legitimate and committed to the industry — not just a fly-by-night consulting firm that might not be able to keep its promises.
Stand Out From the Competition
One aspect of the consulting industry that is sometimes a subject for jokes is that almost anyone can be a consultant. And it's true: There are very low barriers to entry. All you need is a website and a business card, and you can pretty much declare yourself a “professional consultant.” Getting a professional consultant certification is a way to show the world that you’re serious about your skills, and that you can differentiate yourself from the competition in ways that not everyone is willing or able to do.
Whether it’s an overall business consultant certification or specific certifications in programming languages or project management methodologies, your professional consultant certification sends a message. You care about upholding professional standards, you’re willing to learn, you’re curious about improving your expertise, you’re interested in pushing the envelope with the latest thinking in your industry — and you’re committed to raising the bar for what it means to be a consultant in your field.
Getting a consultant certification doesn’t mean everything; it’s not as big of a commitment as getting an MBA or other advanced degree. But that added credential on your business card might mean just enough (to enough of your prospective customers) to get you more business and help you build a stronger foundation of clients for your consulting practice.
Command Higher Fees
Another reason to consider getting your consultant certification is that it can help you market your consulting business as a “premium” option. Businesses are often willing to pay more for consultants who have better experience or recognized expertise. And in fact, for many of the most complex and lucrative business consulting engagements, price is not the most important factor in the buyer’s purchase decision. Consultants that can deliver big results, build strong relationships and demonstrate their value over time will tend to command the biggest fees. Having consultant certifications is another way to convey your value proposition and show clients that you are worth your (higher) price.
Along with your overall credentials (degrees, experience, client case studies) and brand building (your website, though leadership, social media presence, etc.), having professional consultant certifications can send a signal to the market: Your consulting firm is a premium option that's worth more than you cost (and is worth paying for).
Given a choice between two consultants with similar levels of experience, wouldn’t you rather hire the one who had a professional consultant certification? You might find that getting certified can be a tie-breaker that will help you land more contracts and create more lucrative client relationships.
Becoming a consultant is a wonderful way to start a business, because the field is wide open — the sky’s the limit on which kinds of clients you can serve and how much income you can earn. You'll get paid to help businesses solve problems, boost profits, improve productivity, and navigate their challenges with your creativity and expertise. As you build your consulting business, remember to build credibility and earn your clients’ trust. One of the best ways to do this is to get started with professional consultant certifications — and of course form an LLC to make your consulting business “official.”
Are you ready tostart a business, form an LLC for your consulting practice, or reorganize your current business structure with business incorporation services?Talk to Incfile today. Our incorporation experts can help you evaluate your options with state-specific advice, and we offer a range of services that help youmanage your company once it's established.
Ben Gran is a freelance writer from Des Moines, Iowa. Ben has written for Fortune 500 companies, the Governor of Iowa (who now serves as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture), the U.S. Secretary of the Navy, and many corporate clients. He writes about entrepreneurship, technology, food and other areas of great personal interest.