How to Start a Sideline HR Consulting Business

Today I’m going to talk about running a small business, marketing, and product creation. If that’s not your thing, come back later this week for more great HR-centered content.

I think everyone has knowledge that is worth sharing. Some of that knowledge, you might have found, might even be worth some compensation. This past week I wrote a post for my friends at Careerealism, and it focuses on how I started the journey years ago into the world of HR consulting. Here’s a piece of that:

I'll be honest—the first consulting meeting with the CEO and Vice President of the company was pretty stressful. They wanted some help in defining their hiring methods, creating documents to support the new process, and so on. It was all work that I've had experience doing, but stepping out from under the corporate umbrella on my own felt just plain weird.

I told them that I could do the work for them, offered a rate for the project, and shook hands to seal the deal.

Over the following weeks, I provided them with the various work products and consulting time they had requested, and when I finally received the check in the mail, I felt something special stir in my heart. At the time, I wasn't sure what that was, but now I can say with certainty what I was feeling.

What we all want

In that moment, standing at the mailbox and looking at the check, I realized that someone else thought that my knowledge and expertise was valuable enough to pay me for it. I think that's a big hurdle for many of us to get over, so I will say it again: Someone else thought my knowledge was worth paying for.

I think it's something we all hope for. We want to be worth something. We want others to value what we have to say. And if we can get paid for doing those things, then that's the best of both worlds.

Advice on starting

Are you interested in picking up some extra work? Maybe you'd like to start that consulting business you've dreamed of? Whatever the case, consider this: You are good enough at something that people will pay you for it.

In order to do this, you need to understand:

  1. What that is
  2. How you can position it
  3. How you can get connected to clients

If you can do all three of those, you'll have your first gig before you know it.

In the business world, we call that your unique value proposition. Know what you can bring that someone else can't, be able to communicate the value of that knowledge/service, and find people who are willing to pay to have that type of problem solved. Even if you're approaching a company about a job and not in a consulting role, the same rules apply. Source: http://www.careerealism.com/marketing-value-anyone/

This basic info can get you started, but there are other tips and ideas that I normally share with those looking to get into this exciting new world. Here’s one of the most valuable…

Creating a product

Consulting, in the end, is about trading dollars for hours. Give me dollars, I’ll give you hours. But when you create a product of some kind, you can scale that business beyond what it currently can stand. I always recommend that new consultants consider the top two or three questions they receive. The next step is to create something–a video, a short PDF guide, or something similar that answers one of those questions in great detail.

If someone paid you to answer that question with half an hour of your time, use that half hour of video or 10 pages of written material (or both) to do that for someone. Then you’re no longer limited by the number of hours in a week, you can pitch the product to a new market, and you can grow the business in new, exciting ways.

This is a recipe for growth that most HR consultants never tap into. And if you’ve been thinking about starting your own small (or large) consulting business from the ground up, this is a great place to start. 

Illegal interview questions and manager training-Guest Post Blitz #9

What do illegal interview questions, video training for managers, and required reading lists for employees have in common? They are all guest posts I’ve done in the past little while! Looks like I’m a little schizophrenic with the varying topics, but each post has its own merits.

These guest posts went live (fairly recently) elsewhere that you may have missed. Some of them might be a bit different flavor than the usual upstartHR offerings, so be sure to check them out! If you\’re interested in seeing some of my previous escapades, click here for the Guest Post Blitz archive.

Here’s a new hire program I can get behind. Employees are required to read books as a way to introduce them to the culture and encourage them to keep professional development on their radar. Thanks to Matt at Monster Thinking for letting me share!

My friend JT at Careerealism shared this question with me and I just couldn’t pass it up. It sounded like an episode of Jerry Springer and the title is “Can I get fired for this?” The funny thing is I had to read the question ten times and diagram the situation so I could understand and respond.

Ever wondered if those interview questions about when you graduated school are actually legal? I hit on that in this post for Careerealism. (Hint: the question itself isn’t illegal, it’s what you do with it that counts).

This one’s so new it still has the bubble wrap on it. I ran into a snag when I was looking at developing a social recruiting plan for my employer. Apparently social recruiting doesn’t work for everyone. Would love some comments on this one.

Over on RocketHR I posted about creating and distributing video training for managers on an as-needed basis. Having trouble with conflict resolution? Send them the video with some tips and tricks to doing that better. Need some assistance with giving feedback to staff? There’s a video for that one, too.

And finally, I’ve had a lot of comments in person on this post about who is HR’s customer. Is it the employee? The manager? The job candidate? Senior leadership? The garbage man? Yeah, there are a lot of facets to consider and this one isn’t a simple question to answer.

CAREEREALISM Club and Getting a Job

I’m running a series on some of  the companies I’ve interacted with that I think are worth mentioning. It’s not exhaustive, but I’ve been meaning to share these things for a while now. With that, let’s roll…


Who they are

CAREEREALISM is a company that was founded by the career coach J.T. O’Donnell. J.T. is a fantastic person who I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with, and I’ll never forget the first thing she said to me that showed me her true character. I asked her who the “head honcho” was at her company, and she replied with this great quote:

“I’m the founder… So, while I may be technically ‘in charge.’ the company is actually governed via the team’s efforts.”

I knew right away that she was going to be a great person to interact with. The company as a whole is made up of a small team of people working on their website and other programs.

What they do

So, they obviously have a website, but what else is there? Well, for a long time, there was a cool program called “TAP” where a few trusted people (somehow I weaseled my way onto that list) would give advice via Twitter on different career questions. Eventually that played itself out (after we ended up answering over 500 questions!), and they moved onto other way cooler programs like the CAREEREALISM Club.

This thing is amazing. There are hours and hours of videos, recorded webinars, and other resources to help job seekers find their dream career. Plus, the free eBooks, personalized career coaching, and interaction/support from other job seekers are nothing to laugh about. Every week there are live chats on the private network where you can ask questions, share war stories, and learn more about getting a job than you could ever use.

In short, check it out.

Why you need it

If the features above don’t sell it for you, let’s look at a few more. If you are looking for a job, there are so many things that you don’t know. It’s not like you spend your time finding out the best ways to apply for jobs or where to go for networking tips that are more than “here’s a resume/business card/something to throw in the trash.” The CAREEREALISM Club is described by J.T. as a “Career HMO.”

Another neat benefit is that it takes it further than just getting a job. It gives you help with what to do once you start the job like managing your boss, setting expectations, and making a great impression on your new coworkers.

If you are looking for the career resource to help you find and get that next job, then I highly recommend that you check out CAREEREALISM Club today.

Stay tuned, because I’ll be bringing you more recommended resources in the coming weeks!

Guest Post Blitz #6

I\’m notorious for being unorganized, but I have several guest posts that went live (fairly recently) elsewhere that you may have missed. Some of them might be a bit different flavor than the usual UpstartHR offerings, so be sure to check them out!

Every once in a while I get the chance to write a little something for some of my friends. In an effort to repay their kindness, I share the links with you in case you\’re interested in checking one out. If you\’re interested in seeing some of my previous escapades, click here for the Guest Post Blitz archive.

As a sequel to my own Google Reader Tutorial, I shared a post with Mike Krupa of InfoBox telling about Continue reading

How I got immediate value from joining a SHRM chapter

local shrm chapterNote: this post is not encouraging anyone to spam a group of people. It’s only a recount of my own experience. If you spam your local HR pros, you could get booted from the SHRM chapter. Fair warning!

Back in the spring of 2009, I started looking for my first HR job. While I graduated college a year earlier than that, I had to work for my employer for a year since they paid for my final semester of college. I knew that it was time to step out of the small pond and jump into the world of HR with both feet. At that time, I was working with Andrew at Jobacle as a staff writer. In a fortunate coincidence, I had interviewed JT O’Donnell for a story on the Jobacle blog, and after a brief mention that I was job searching, we began to work together. JT is a great career coach, and her company, CAREEREALISM, is the place to go if you’re a job seeker looking for help.

Within a week, an entry level HR position with a local nonprofit opened up. I went for it. I wrote a cover letter, attached my resume, and sent it to their in-house recruiter. The only problem is that I knew that everyone else who applied for the job would do that exact same thing. I had to make it better. Continue reading