No doubt many of you, for whatever reason, have, at some time thought about going out on your own as a safety consultant. Having done it sometime ago, I could never go back to having a boss! The personal and financial rewards can be great as can the losses. To be successful you will need experience, knowledge, a big network, heaps of guts and a plan! Making the transition from being a Safety Professional to a Business Person will take you out of your comfort zone.
Establishing a safety consultancy company
by the late George Robotham
For the last 6 months or so I have had a part time project of establishing a new OHS consultancy company. Most of it I have done myself by exploring the internet or getting books out of the library. There will be specialised areas where you will need expert help but my advice is to try to learn how to do as much as you can yourself. There is no shortage of business consultants who will try to separate you from large amounts of money. I did my work to a tight budget, so had little capacity to get outside help.
I am a long way from being a business systems expert and I advise you of the limitations of the following. It is simply a road I went along and learnt a bit in the process, maybe some of the lessons I learnt have messages for you.
I have a 35 page business plan which is probably an over kill but I found the discipline required to complete it allowed me to define the nature of the beast I was dealing with. I got a handful of books about business planning out of the library and combined their recommendations. You may wish to get your business adviser to review your plan but put in the work initially yourself. A thorough business plan is a must have, you are asking for trouble if you do not have one.
My advice is to attend some marketing training as this can make a big difference to your success. You need a marketing plan. There is a lot you can do yourself after you get the basics, maybe do the hack work and then pass it by an expert. You will need remarkable differences, a positioning statement, vision, mission statement, marketing strategy and marketing activities.
You need an I.T. person for the technical side but there is a lot of the design you can sort out for yourself. Giving something of value away free will draw people to your web site. Read up on the marketing side of web site design and explore other web sites to establish what works.
Training and development of company staff
Company staff need to be at the fore front of latest developments in the field.
I chose to establish the company through an accountant. You can do it yourself a bit cheaper but I decided the stuffing around was not worth it. You need an accountant with realistic ideas about how much tax you should pay, better still if they have a business advisory and bookkeeping services.
Sometimes the smaller banks are a better proposition, for me, parking and being open on the weekends were important.
Your marketing knowledge will help you define your products. Based on my marketing training the 2 key success factors in business are to fill a need and differentiate yourself from others doing similar things. Find a niche and fill it. You have to do a needs analysis in your target market. You can do some of this yourself but I got 2 reasonable quotes from marketing consultants. Both involved focus group interviews. You need to do the things other consultants are getting a lot of work in plus have unique products others are not supplying.
It always pays to know what the other blokes are up to.
Explore avenues for promotion through Chambers of Commerce and safety, training and H.R. professional organisations.
Are there other organisations you can align yourself to for mutual advantage?
See what government assistance is available, in my case I obtained a free of charge assessment of my business plans.
Prepare learning resource materials, business cards, hard copy promotional materials, uniforms, product information, press releases etc.
REVIEW OF PLANS
Put a lot of planning into the start up of the business. Once your plans are formed facilitate a force-field analysis or S.W.O.T. analysis on your plans with a group of trusted associates. As a minimum the business plan should be reviewed. There is a good chance a number of changes to the original plans will have to be made.
Once your plans for the business are clarified work with your accountant on the financial projections to see if you would be better off going fishing instead.