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When I tell business planners to know their funding runway, I speak from experience. From the stationery stand in my driveway and my fifth-grade scrunchie business, to the dual-level marketing company I joined in college, it's really not just a passion. It's a way of life. The most influential person I discovered was James Wedmore , whose mentorship gave me the confidence and clarity to develop my business.

This was the kick in the pants I needed to define and flex my entrepreneurial muscles. So, I guess you could say I got my start as an entrepreneur a couple years ago once I made the decision to go for it. With a little coaching and a LOT of fear, I went for it and the rest is history! During that time, I was getting any and all experience I could in my field, on the side of my full-time job. I spent vacation time and extra money on conferences, networking, and working for anyone who would let me help.

First for free and then for cheap, until I had confidence in my portfolio and made the leap to focus on my business alone. Do the work. Prove you're going to keep doing the work when you're the only one in your corner. And then make it happen. If you're ready to start or grow your own business, you need to learn how to value yourself.

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Here's what these women had to share about getting their start as entrepreneurs. Sue Bryce. Sophia Amoruso.


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Pamela Slim. Tara Gentile. Melissa Galt. Beate Chelette. I wanted to be the boss. I had a lot of ideas, and my bosses didn't necessarily agree. I wanted to change the world.

If you’re a whiz with numbers:

Sue Zimmerman. Tiffany Angeles. Yasmine Khater. Mayi Carles. Mei Pak. Courtney Johnston. Kimra Luna.

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Jenn Scalia. Barbara Findlay Schenck. Phoebe Mroczek. Amy Schmittauer. Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post. The opinions expressed here by Inc. Easy to read guide hitting the main points in starting a Consultant business. Kristin rated it it was ok Feb 13, Moifore N. Jason Hall rated it liked it May 12, Abdurrahman Ahmad rated it it was amazing Sep 24, Tara rated it it was ok Mar 25, P rated it it was amazing Dec 09, Mellissa rated it it was ok Apr 21, Marcelo rated it really liked it Jan 15, Pegi Frostholm rated it liked it May 06, Robert rated it liked it Apr 08, Rich rated it really liked it Jan 01, Entrepreneur Press marked it as to-read Mar 24, Lela Fagan marked it as to-read Jul 01, Sara marked it as to-read Sep 09, Scott marked it as to-read Sep 18, Raed marked it as to-read Dec 18, Jonathan Tame marked it as to-read Dec 26, Kiss marked it as to-read Apr 04, Ivan Prado marked it as to-read Apr 13, Tiarra marked it as to-read May 12, Gwyn marked it as to-read May 16, L Rhodes marked it as to-read Sep 22, Angel Moreno marked it as to-read Jan 18, Ask TPJ marked it as to-read Apr 08, Com marked it as to-read Apr 25, Al Salah marked it as to-read Jul 31, Some information consultants also work on a retainer fee just like lawyers.

They're paid once a month to be available to the client for a specified maximum number of hours, whether or not they actually do any work. In this case, you may not even need to send an invoice, depending on your agreement or contract. The top salaries will be earned by those who are considered experts in their information fields--those who write articles, speak at conferences and consult.

One more thing to keep in mind before multiplying your hourly rate by 40 hours a week is that a lot of the work you do, including bookkeeping, studying, attending conferences and looking for work, is stuff you don't get paid for--and that's pretty time-consuming, to boot. Being an information consultant takes a lot of work. The work is rewarding and pays well, but it's definitely not for those looking for a get-rich-quick scheme.

Innovation Books

How do you let potential clients know that you exist? Welcome to the wonderful world of advertising. If you're an independent information consultant, it's quite possible that you walked away from your previous place of work with a potential client--maybe even your former employer if you played your cards right. However, even if you come out of the chute with one or two clients, it's unlikely that they'll bring in enough work for you to rest on your laurels and wait for them to call every week.

You need exposure. Before you get started, you'll need to do a little bit of work. Figure out what industry would be most interested in your services. Next, compile a list of companies in that field, along with contact information for the person in each company who is most likely to need your services. If you're a legal researcher, you'll need a list of law firms and contacts.

If you're a high-tech researcher, you'll need a list of software and hardware companies. Because there are so many fields in which information consultants provide services, you're pretty much on your own in finding an initial list of potential clients. Do some research. Leaf through magazines. Click around on the web.


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Even flip through the Yellow Pages if you think that's where the information lies. Still no list of clients? Not to worry.

The following marketing ideas should help you find those first clients. Ah, the lowly business card. It's an often overlooked but extremely effective marketing tool. It's also just about the cheapest form of marketing you can do. Having a professional-looking business card makes your business look like it means business. Keep your card simple. Be sure to include your phone and fax numbers, e-mail address and website address if you have one.

If you work out of your apartment, you might consider using "Suite " instead of "Apt. It's all about perception. Keeping professionalism in mind, you may also want to invest in things like letterhead stationery and envelopes. While these kinds of printed products may seem like they fall into the category of office supplies, they're really marketing tools.

You're trying to sell your services, so you need to live, eat and breathe professionalism. Even when you're talking to potential clients on the phone or meeting with them for lunch, you're marketing your business. There are all sorts of nifty promotional pieces you can mail to potential clients, from simple sales letters to brochures.

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First off, you'll need to know what companies to mail them to. Getting information about companies in your field of expertise and finding out to whom exactly you should send printed materials is an excellent exercise to sharpen your research skills before you actually go into business. Search the web. Buy magazines.

Go to libraries. Do everything you can to find out who and where your clients are. Got your list?