Do you have excellent sales skills and a solid background in marketing? Have you spent a decent number of years in the marketing field and now understand all that it takes to help a business attract more customers and make more sales? Would you like to start your own business, becoming your own boss and working at your own convenience?

If you answered “Yes” to all—or some—of these questions, then starting an independent marketing consulting business might be the best option for you.

A marketing consultant is typically an independent contractor who advises businesses and helps them formulate marketing strategies that will attract more customers to their products and services and ultimately boost their sales and profit.

A marketing consultant also researches and analyzes consumer behavior and preferences in order to create the most favorable strategic results while meeting consumer needs. The demand for marketing consultants is always on the high because businesses are in constant need to strategies for attracting more and more customers as well as boosting their sales. Here are the steps involved in becoming an independent marketing consultant:

How to Become a Certified Independent Marketing Consultant

1. Obtain a relevant bachelor’s degree

To become an independent marketing consultant, you need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in a business or marketing communications field of study. This will give you the competitive edge in the market. Consider getting a minor in graphic design, journalism, or writing, to give you an extra boost on your resume.

In addition, you should try to have some internship or entry level work experience as a sales representative or marketing researcher. This is will add more value to your credentials and boost your chances of getting hired by any employer.

2. Create your portfolio

Having a portfolio is important to your career as an independent marketing consultant. You need a portfolio to show off your skills and convince potential employers that you can handle their marketing campaigns professionally and in a way that will yield expected results.

Your portfolio should be in two versions: the online version and the print version. And it will detail every successful marketing related project you handled in the past, including as graphic design, internet marketing, product descriptions, and so on. A smart idea is to start building your portfolio when you are still in school.

3. Specialize

One thing you need to realize is that you can’t be an expert in all aspects of marketing, since marketing is a fairly wide field that consists of internet marketing, print marketing, television marketing, radio marketing, copy writing, graphic design, sales, reputation marketing, and more. But you can be particularly skilled in one or two aspects.

However, you must bear in mind that marketing ideas go in and out of fashion. So, you should leave school experienced in the newest forms of marketing. And you should always keep abreast of latest marketing trends, so you won’t lag behind.

4. Start your marketing career

You cannot become an independent marketing consultant without having built a career in the field of marketing. So, you need to start by applying for entry-level marketing jobs. Once employed, start approaching your career with diligence and the zeal to get great results from every marketing campaign you handle.

It is recommended that you don’t break into consultancy until after seven to 10 years of working as a marketing professional with a reputable employer. So, you must work with employers that will give you the opportunity to really become an expert.

5. Start building your consultancy business

After having gained the required experience and having achieved multiple successes with marketing projects, you can start pursuing your dreams of becoming an independent marketing consultant. Start making your move toward consultancy while you’re still on your day job.

Create a business plan for your consultancy business and get started. Don’t forget to make your business legitimate by obtaining all required licenses, permits, and qualifications. These requirements vary by location, so you need to find out what applies in your state or country.

To boost your chances of attracting quality clients, create a name and brand for your business and adopt a competitive marketing strategy. You may even want to rent a business location and hire staff.

Don’t forget to define the exact services you will render for clients and the prices you will charge for each.

6. Start hunting for clients

Getting clients to hire your business should be less of a problem, since marketing is your forte. Set up a website to establish an online presence for your consultancy business. And advertise your business using both online and offline mediums.