How to start a consulting business

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Consultancy franchises in the UK

As long as there are businesses in the UK, there is always going to be a demand for the services of consulting businesses. Consulting is one of the fastest growing markets both in the UK and overseas, and its £10 billion value places the UK as the second largest in Europe. The largest client market for consulting businesses is financial services. However, risk and regulations, and technology and cybersecurity are in high demand due to there being frequent and significant developments in data protection laws and AI.

What skills make a good consultant?

Before you jump straight into starting a consultancy business, you need to make sure that it’s the right business move for you. To work this out, you need to reflect on your skills, know your market and establish your product.

It goes without saying that attributes like excellent interpersonal skills and motivation will play a crucial role in the success as a consultant, but consider what else you can offer your clients.

Think about what knowledge, skills or expertise you have learnt throughout your career that you are going to sell to your clients. Examine your CV and note what you learnt from each project you have taken on. This is what you will use to provide helpful insights to your clients and is therefore your product.

How to start a consulting business

  1. Choose which type of consulting business you want to start. Some of the top consulting business ideas at the moment include auditing, advertising, accounting, computer programming, editorial services, career counselling, marketing, taxes and human resources.
  2. Find a niche. Research your competition. What are they currently offering and what aren’t they? A gap in the market could be a great opportunity for your new business venture. Also, consider where people are struggling the most and what with. This is where you need to ask yourself: Who is going to benefit the most from my expertise?
  3. Decide on your target market. Even if you come up with an innovative idea and your business has a USP, ultimately, you need to make sure that someone will be willing to part with their hard-earned cash in exchange for your advice. Are you going to target your services at small businesses, large corporations or maybe even non-profit organisations?
  4. Find the right location. This type of business can easily be operated from home, therefore avoiding a hefty inital capital investment. Other benefits of working from home include avoiding the dreaded commute to and from the office, the flexibility to work the hours you want and low expenses.
  5. Hire a team of employees. If you are looking to grow your business, you will probably need to hire staff to help handle admin or offer their own consulting services. You might find that you can’t fulfil admin duties in order to have enough time for finding clients and developing marketing strategies. By hiring a team of trusted employees, you don’t have to worry about not being in the office all day. Also, you can ask the opinions of other people who understand the business as much as you do.

Start a consulting franchise

If you believe you’ve got what it takes to become a business coach, one of these four franchises may be the perfect opportunity for you. All of our chosen franchises have worked hard to develop their reputation as successful business consultants and fantastic franchise investments.

Each offers prospective franchisees something slightly different, and all have the potential to earn you a substantial profit. Here, we take a more in-depth look at what makes them exciting propositions.

Top consultancy franchise opportunities in the UK


Founded in 1994 by Chris Allison, Auditel has gone from strength to strength over the last 20 years. It made the leap to franchising in 1997 and, since then, the network has grown to encompass more than 200 franchisees and serve over 4,000 clients. It has won numerous awards, including the HSBC Franchisor of the Year award in 2012 and the Innovation and Excellence award in 2017, and continues to offer high-quality services to customers across the UK and Ireland. It specialises in providing cost management consultancy services to businesses who require advice on how to control their overheads, and its role is to help companies to become more efficient, limit their waste and achieve sustainable profit growth.

To invest in Auditel, franchisees will need to raise a minimum of £20,000 and a total investment of around £38,000. Auditel has partnered with several lenders, including NatWest, HSBC, Lloyds and RBS, who will help finance up to 70 percent of this initial investment – if they deem you a suitable franchisee.

In return, Auditel allows franchisees to trade under the brand's name and image, and enrols each franchisee (and one other person) on a 12-day residential training course. This programme covers all of the basics necessary to run an Auditel franchise. However, training continues throughout the five-year franchise agreement, and additional support is provided in the form of regional meetings, exhibitions, workshops, personal development seminars and a national conference.


ActionCOACH is the UK’s number one business coaching franchise and the recipient of numerous awards. Established in 1997, the business quickly expanded to become a multi-national organisation with franchises in more than 75 countries.

In the UK, the franchise has grown to around 150 business coaches and is always looking for talented recruits to join the organisation. It focuses on coaching business owners, managers and professionals from a wide range of industries and backgrounds, with an emphasis on increasing profits, developing strong organisational structures and building your team.

ActionCOACH believes that there are simple and effective ways to grow a business and has a great deal of experience in communicating its ideas and teachings.

To join ActionCOACH as a franchisee, it's necessary to raise the investment of £69,000. The franchise package is extensive, and ActionCOACH is known for its excellent training programmes and franchisee support systems. The fact that ActionCOACH has received the maximum five-star franchisee satisfaction rating every year for the last five years is an indication of just how successful the franchise is.

Business Doctors

Owning a franchise that helps small and medium-sized enterprises grow, expand and realise their full potential can be personally rewarding. Business Doctors is a perfect example. Founded by Matthew Levington and Rod Davies in 2004, the franchise earned itself five stars for franchisee satisfaction in 2016 and has worked hard to maintain its reputation as a supportive franchise. In the past 15 years, it has expanded internationally, opening units in India, Ireland and South Africa, as well as other key markets. It aims to provide high-quality, affordable business consulting services to companies with a desire to succeed, grow and increase profits.

To become a Business Doctors franchisee, an initial investment of around £39,500 is required. Additional working capital is also necessary. Business Doctors have partnered with several financial institutions, ensuring that suitable candidates can raise between 50-70 percent of the investment through borrowing agreements.

In return, franchisees receive five days of introductory training, covering the consultancy market, business operations and franchise systems. After this period, ongoing training is available, allowing franchisees to continue upgrading and updating their skills. The franchisor also retains control of advertising, ensuring the marketing budget is spent efficiently and effectively, while also enabling you to focus on your franchise unit.

Expense Reduction Analysts

Expense Reduction Analysts is one of the most profitable franchises in the business coaching industry. Many franchisees report annual profits of over £300,000 and the franchise has won the British Franchising Association’s (BFA) Franchisor of the Year award on more than one occasion. Originally established in 1992, Expense Reduction Analysts now encompasses a franchise network of more than 750 units. It specialises in providing consultancy services and strategic advice to small businesses of all types, and operates in more than 30 countries around the world.

The minimum investment required for an Expense Reduction Analysts franchise is £39,000. Around 70 percent of this figure can be borrowed from partner organisations, such as HSBC and Lloyds, though additional working capital and some personal investment are necessary. In return, franchisees will be granted a place on an eight-day introductory course and be assigned a mentor who will guide them through the first six months of business.

Franchisees are also enrolled in an 18-month business academy to fine-tune their management skills and receive ongoing support from experienced franchisor advisors. Finally, national conferences are organised on an annual basis, allowing franchisees to network and learn from one another.


Business consultancy franchises benefit from a large target market and low overheads. Many allow you to base operations in your own home and few require any serious investment in stock, marketing materials or equipment. This makes them an affordable and attractive proposition to those that have the communication and business skills required to succeed as a business consultant.

>> Read more articles on the Consulting sector

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