Do you have all the administrative pieces covered for your consulting business?
It’s easy to get caught up in finding clients, figuring out your services, and choosing the perfect business name. But when it comes to running a successful consulting business, paperwork matters.
To help you keep things organized, we pulled together the top nine admin tasks to put on your paperwork list.
9 Key Administrative Tasks for Your Consulting Business
1) Register your business
Many consultants start as freelancers, creating contracts and accepting income directly. For many reasons, including saving money and protecting yourself, it’s always a good idea to set up an LLC for your business activities. If you work with a good accountant (we have referrals), setting up an LLC is fast, easy, and affordable.
2) Get an EIN
Your accountant can also help you get an Employer Identification Number or EIN. You will need this EIN when you send your W-9 to clients.
3) Plan for bookkeeping
Along with creating your consulting budget, you’ll want a plan to track and manage your income and expenses. Many consultants choose QuickBooks or similar software, while others decide to outsource bookkeeping.
4) Organize your business banking
You will want to keep personal and business finances separate. Getting a business checking account and credit card can streamline your financial management. Business credit cards also come with perks, so take the time to consider whether you want points with specific companies or benefits like cash back. For example, if you travel frequently for business, you might be able to find a card with perks at your favorite hotel chain or airline.
5) Buy your domain name
Even if you’re not ready to create a website, grabbing the domain name (the website address) for your business is still important. Buying a domain is affordable, at around $10 to $20 per year. Best of all, once you buy your domain, no one else can buy it (unless you decide not to renew).
6) Set up your business email
Ideally, you’ll be corresponding with plenty of clients, which means you will want a business email. If you have room in your budget, springing for a custom domain email address (for example @yourbusinessname.com) conveys even more professionalism.
7) Get required business licenses
Licensing requirements for consultants vary by state and city, so you will want to do a thorough check for your area. A good place to start is your city or county business licensing agency or department. If you provide nonprofit fundraising or grant writing services, you will also want to familiarize yourself with fundraising counsel license requirements.
8) Choose your invoicing platform
While you can always create invoices in a Word document, using an invoicing platform can streamline recordkeeping and help you get paid faster. We highly recommend finding a platform that includes online payments (by credit card or ACH). There are several free invoicing platforms available. You might also want to use a time-tracking tool, like Toggl, to make invoicing even easier.
9) Have contract templates ready
Contracts are the lifeblood of a consulting business. They define how we work with our clients—including deliverables, payment, and expectations on both sides. Yet contracts can be surprisingly tough to get right. Many nonprofits end up with boilerplate contracts that can leave consultants in a bind. We recommend creating and using your own template wherever possible. To develop your template, our article about contract considerations for consultants is a great place to start. We also work with many of the consultants in our 1:1 60-Day Boot Camp to create custom contract templates.