Software Consulting: How to Start a Software Consulting Business

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You can take your experience in software development and use it to create a software consulting business. 

We’ve helped a number of consultants do just that.

Consider the case of Blake Waldon, founder of Black Owl Strategies.

Blake combines his expertise as a programmer with his skills as a consultant to create customized software for wealth management firms that enables them to make data-informed decisions.

As an entrepreneurial software consultant, you are offering what you’ve learned over the course of your own career to other organizations.

In this article, we’re going to show you step-by-step how to create your own profitable software consulting business using the skills you’ve developed in the software world.

Software consultants in our Clarity Coaching Program like Sam Schutte routinely make $250,000 per project or higher.

What Is a Software Consultant?

A software consultant is an independent expert with particular expertise in IT, programming, and/or software development.

They typically help clients strategize, design, build, and implement software solutions to solve their business challenges.

What are some reasons why a business might hire a software consultant?

  • To increase efficiency by implementing new technology.
  • To address and create solutions for overcoming technical issues.
  • To introduce best practices in development and infrastructure.
  • To provide much-needed tech skills to help their team meet goals.

Here’s an example from a software consultant — one of our Clarity Coaching clients:

Businesses often struggle with operational inefficiencies that make it harder to achieve their goals. However, solving these inefficiencies can be daunting.

Sam Schutte’s consulting company, Unstoppable Software, identifies problem areas that are creating these inefficiencies and develops user-friendly software tools to help clients solve them. 

As they say on their website, “Unstoppable Software delivers high-quality, usable, and innovative solutions that drive business outcomes.”

An Example of Software Consulting Services

Software consultants address a wide range of client needs and provide numerous services, expertise, and advice.

With his background in both finance and software development, Blake Walden of Black Owl Strategies knows that companies, especially wealth management firms, often struggle to acquire the data they need to make smart decisions.

In his business, he applies his expertise to design data-centric software solutions for clients that would help them make data-informed decisions, cut technology costs, and streamline workflows.

In his own words, “We help companies who are feeling overwhelmed by their data gain control.”

He’s helped clients cut their tech costs by as much as 25 percent and streamline their workflows by as much as 85 percent.

If you want your software consulting business to take off, you need to narrow your focus and aim at a specific target market.

5 Steps to Become a Software Consultant

So, how do you take all of your experience in the software world and turn it into a profitable software consulting business?

Follow these five steps.

1) Get specific about your ideal software client

All kinds of organizations need software solutions or advice about technology. They come in all shapes and sizes, and they exist in practically every industry.

You can’t possibly reach out to all of them. If you try, you will only spread yourself too thin and diminish the impact of your message.

Instead, if you want your software consulting business to take off, you need to narrow your focus and aim at a specific target market.

Get very specific about who your ideal client is so you can reach them with magnetic messaging that speaks directly to their needs.

For example, Blake Walden specifically targets wealth management firms because he brings a unique combination of expertise from the worlds of finance and computer programming.

Sam Schutte, on the other hand, targets mostly manufacturing and engineering clients, because he knows how much organizations in those industries deal with operational inefficiencies.

With a well-defined ideal client, you also have an easier time communicating the value of your services and setting higher prices.

2) Write messaging that attracts your ideal client

Magnetic Messaging is tailored to your ideal client’s specific wants and needs, so when they encounter your content, they will feel understood. More than that, they will see the real value in the solutions you offer.

For example, a manufacturing company might struggle with eliminating operational inefficiencies caused by older technology, but they lack the expertise to identify and implement a newer system.

When they come across messaging from Unstoppable Software, they think, “Wow, these experts are helping manufacturing businesses move mountains. They clearly understand the tech challenges of our industry.”

To create impactful messaging, use the following framework: Problem – Action – Results.

You probably already know some of the software or tech-related problems that your ideal clients struggle with. Make a list of these problems.

  • Maybe they’re looking for a software tool that will save them time and money;
  • Maybe they are looking for a way to gather more data so they can make data-driven decisions;
  • Or maybe they need help overcoming some process-related issues caused by outdated tech.

In your messaging, let your ideal client know that you understand their specific technology challenges.

Then, explain how you use your expertise and skills to help clients just like them to solve those challenges.

Finally, share the results they can expect to achieve from implementing your solutions.

  • Problem: Your ideal client deals with a lot of frustrating lag time in their operations due to a lack of user-friendly tech.
  • Solution: You offer a three-day workshop that helps organizations identify their specific tech needs and come up with a customized solution that boosts operational efficiency.
  • Result: Clients who have attended the workshop have increased their operational efficiency by an average of 40 percent.

To make this process as simple as possible, refer to our “Magnetic Message Formula” which will help you create a straightforward and effective message to attract your ideal client.

Here’s what it looks like:

I help [WHO] to [solve WHAT problem] so they can [see WHAT result].

Remember, as a software consultant, your job is to understand deeply the specific software or tech-related challenges that organizations deal with and to create offers to solve those problems.

3) Create and price your strategic offer

The value a software consultant offers is simple to communicate: your ideal client has tech-related challenges, and you, the software consultant, offer customized solutions for overcoming them.

Your expertise is going to help your client achieve their desired outcomes, and that is why they will invest in your consulting fees.

To justify the fee you charge, you need to communicate the positive impact your services are going to make on their organization.

For example, if you can increase their operational efficiency by 50 percent through a new software solution, that will make a big difference in their growth and profitability.

To that end, we don’t advise using hourly fees, because much of a consultant’s work is spent “off the clock” winning new clients. An hourly rate won’t cover all of the other work you must do to build your business.

Instead, we recommend setting value-based fees that will provide income for both the tangible and intangible value you create for your clients.

4) Rev up your marketing engine

Many of your ideal clients probably don’t even know software consultants exist, so they’re not actively looking for your services. Unless you reach out to them, they’re not going to ask you for help.

It’s up to you to spread the word and explain the value you offer. Help your ideal client get to know you so they come to trust you. That’s the essence of effective marketing.

As you build trust over time by sharing your expertise, clients with software-related problems will start to think, “Hey, that consultant really seems to know what they’re talking about. I’ll bet they could help us.”

In our experience, the most effective way to market yourself like this is to practice Outreach, Follow-up, and Authority-building.

  • Outreach – Share valuable content with your ideal clients directly through LinkedIn or email. By adding value to their lives, you generate interest in your services.
  • Follow-up – Add more value over time by sending clients direct messages or emails on topics relevant to their industry or their niche.
  • Authority-building – Publish regular content on your blog, website, and social media platforms to position yourself continually as a software or tech expert. This will bolster your outreach and follow-up efforts.

When your marketing combines outreach, follow-up, and authority-building, you continually build relationships with your ideal clients and create opportunities for meaningful conversations.

5) Create meaningful conversations

How do you know when your marketing engine is churning along effectively? Because prospective clients will begin responding and reaching out to you.

They’re already getting value from you, which inspires them to have meaningful conversations about their software or technology needs.

Just remember, in these conversations, your goal is not merely to close the sale. Rather, you want to help the client understand their situation more clearly and envision their desired outcome.

Once they agree that you provide the right solution, only then can you make them an offer like this:

“It seems like our software roadmapping session would give us the perfect opportunity to discuss and design a custom software solution that would help you achieve your goals.”

In your messaging, let your ideal client know that you understand their specific technology challenges.

Software Consultant Case Study: Sam Schutte

At this point, you probably have two questions: How much should I charge my clients for my consulting services? And how much will clients be willing to pay?

Software consultants in our Clarity Coaching Program like Sam Schutte routinely make $250,000 per project or higher.

Of course, your income will vary depending on the services you offer and the kinds of clients you work with.

However, you can only earn those kinds of fees if you charge per-project fees rather than an hourly rate.

Let’s look at the example of Unstoppable Software.

Sam Schutte’s consulting business has identified a few key business problems that they can solve with their technology services. For example, many manufacturing and engineering companies struggle to integrate legacy systems with newer technology.

So they can speak to this issue very clearly: “Do you struggle to connect your older, on-premises systems to newer cloud-based digital technologies? Is this causing operational headaches and slowing you down? We can help by connecting your legacy systems to modern application with our customized APIs.”

Sam credits our Clarity Coaching Program with helping him communicate the value of what he has to offer clearly, which enabled him to charge much higher fees.

As he put it, “I would have charged a lot less in the past for a project because back then I wasn’t able to connect the value to the price.”

The steps we’ve shared with you in this article helped him break $1 million in annual revenue for the first time in his company’s history.

How?

By learning how to identify his ideal client, create a portfolio of services with clear pricing, and build compelling messaging around it.

Get Personalized Coaching To Become A Software Consultant

We’ve helped many software consultants start and grow their businesses — and we can do the same for you.

We’ve worked with software consultants and understand the specific nuances of starting, growing, and scaling a software consulting business specifically.

LEARN MORE ABOUT CLARITY COACHING

We’ll work hands-on with you to develop a strategic plan and then dive deep and work through your ideal client clarity, strategic messaging, consulting offers, fees and pricing, business model optimization, and help you to set up your marketing engine and lead generation system to consistently attract ideal clients.

We will help you to clearly define your ideal client, create impactful messaging, set a generous pricing structure, develop a robust marketing engine and lead gen, and build an optimized business model.

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