How do I start my own HR consulting business? [Ask upstartHR]

Have a question you’d like answered? Just shoot it our way at ben AT upstartHR DOT com and we’ll see if we can cover it in a future blog!

Thank you so much for your insight! I ultimately would like to launch my own business as an HR consultant, with a focus on culture.

Carrie

Hi Carrie! How neat! There’s always an opportunity for great service and support in this area. As you probably know, there’s a range of HR consulting opportunities. 

  • Some people lean into the compliance, handbooks, and HR audits side of things. That’s a great way to help employers get themselves protected and establish a foundation for future HR innovation and growth. 
  • Others have a specialty, like recruiting, compensation, training, etc. They are most often brought in for special projects or to help cover for a gap in an existing HR team’s abilities (or time, if they’re too busy). 

You mentioned culture specifically, which is an interesting niche. There are some people doing some good work in this area already that you should connect with and learn from. For instance, I interviewed Angie Redmon on the We’re Only Human podcast about how she helps companies become a “best place to work,” and she shed light on her methodology and approach. 

When it comes to the actual consulting piece, just know that many people who plan to start a business (even HR pros who have inside info on how a business operates!) often underestimate what it takes to do the marketing, sales, bookkeeping, etc. to keep it running. That’s not a red flag, just a caution to go in eyes wide open. 

I’ve written on those topics in the past pretty extensively and would recommend these two as good resources: 

If you like to listen, I recorded an HRChat podcast with Bill Banham of the HR Gazette on how to break out of the trenches and into HR consulting with some good advice and info. 

You may find it’s the best decision you ever made, or you might realize it’s more difficult than you expected. The bottom line is that the decision isn’t permanent and you can test it for a season just to find out for yourself. Above all, have fun! 

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