The Only Guide You Need To Start Working As A Freelance Consultant

Written by Xolo
on September 01, 2022 12 minute read

More and more workers in the EU are freelancing to gain greater control over their work, enjoy more freedom, and receive higher pay. Becoming a freelance consultant will allow you to leverage your skills and work on your own terms, but you can't just start your freelance career with a snap of your fingers. Failure to intelligently build your freelance consulting business can have severe financial consequences. Thus, if you want to avoid the pitfalls that many freelancers find themselves in, then you need to go over this comprehensive guide on becoming a freelance consultant.

What a Freelance Consultant Does

A freelance consultant works with several individuals and organizations to improve specific aspects of their operations. Although a freelance consultant may have a full schedule, they are not a full-time employee for any of their clients. Instead, they work for themselves and manage their own business. The type of help that freelance consultants offer can vary widely between individuals. For example, a business consultant works as an advisor in a specific business area to help businesses with insights and strategies to optimize their operations and efficiency while a branding consultant would help business clients to shape and improve their presence as well as reputation in target markets. 

How to Become a Freelance Business Development Consultant

A business development consultant analyzes a company’s current practices and comes up with strategies for making them more efficient and profitable. In this role, you might work with existing businesses or help startups establish the best systems to support their growth and objectives. Read on to see what it takes you to become a freelance business development consultant…

1. Learn and Advance Relevant Business Development Skills

You likely have a degree in business or a related field, which gives you an understanding of how to run your own business as well as how to offer advice to existing businesses. Whether you’re new to the field or have acquired some experiences, it helps to refresh and refine important skills to support your business development success:

  • Accounting – Hone your overall understanding of accounting principles, such as financial statements, accounting practices, compliance and analysis. Learn to use popular accounting software, such as Quickbooks, Xero and Freshbooks.
  • Market analysis – The ability to collect and interpret data regarding the current market and competition allows you to demonstrate the company’s potential for growth. Thorough market analysis goes a long way towards understanding the competitive market environments and strategic position of the given business. Learning how to do this helps you craft your professional pitch and secure clients as a freelancer. 
  • Marketing – A business developer often generates and reviews marketing strategies so it’s important to understand various concepts like lead generation, digital marketing, marketing automation, data-driven marketing, customer journey and sales funnel, focusing on ones that are used widely in your target industry. 
  • Strategic partnerships – Building partnerships and alliances is a key element of a business development position. Seeking, securing and maintaining relationships with your partners are vital skills that can be honed while doing it but understanding the methods and techniques is essential to stay ahead of the curve. This strategic partnership course by Linkedin and IMD will help you get your foot in the door.
  • Sales – Having a track record of using sales strategies successfully creates rapport with potential clients. Fine-tune your understanding of nurture marketing, upselling and deal closing. 
  • Product development – You’ll need to know product standards for your location as well as international trade regulations. Working as a freelance business development entails understanding the ins and outs of your product as well as the competitors’ offerings in order to define competitive advantages and craft development strategies accordingly.
  • Soft skills – Working as a team member prepares you to go solo as a business development consultant. Communication, presentation, team-building, negotiation and networking skills will increase your value to your clients and your proficiency within your freelance business.

2. Get Experience in the Business Development Field

Having proven track records in some relevant fields like marketing, sales, financial services will give you a shortcut into the business development area. Whether it’s a junior, a few years of experience, or working as a freelancer or partner, you’ll have your handle to go a long way and finding your freelance clients is so much easier. As long as you can prove your ability to work independently, having a strong business acumen, and a good competence for understanding the market and planning out strategies, a career for you to work as a freelance business development consultant will be potential and promising at the same time.

3. How to Find the First Client as a Freelance Business Development Consultant

The best way to find the first client as a freelance consultant is to let your network know what you have to offer. Connect with fellow business development consultants and potential people who may need your services, attend networking events, and reach out to the people who supported and mentored you along the way. The European Networking Group on LinkedIn and the Enterprise Europe Network are excellent places to start finding amazing prospects.

Freelance marketplaces also offer easy entry into the consulting industry. You’ll get exposure as well as work opportunities to help build your portfolio. Some marketplaces like, have their own sections to find  business development jobs and it’s free for you to find your first job or client as a freelancer.


How to Become a Independent Sales Consultant

Independent sales consultants are different from other subtypes of business consultants. They are freelancers who work as sales representatives. However, instead of selling products, you are often responsible for securing new clients and building relationships with them. Instead of being employed by one company, you may represent several at one time or move from one to another.

1. Hone Your Sales Skills

The heavy emphasis on sales requires you to have a solid understanding of the client acquisition and retention process, marketing and economics. You’ll also need to integrate the following soft skills:

  • Public relations – LinkedIn and Coursera offer public relations courses to help you brush up on your skills.
  • Negotiation – There are hundreds of books on negotiation that you can read before practicing your skills in real life.
  • Time management – Practicing proven time management skills allows you to focus your energy without getting overwhelmed.
  • Communication – Clear and persuasive communication is essential for this role. The Center for Nonviolent Communication sets forth principles for understanding and meeting your needs and those of others.

2. Gain Relevant Experience in Sales as a Freelancer

If you’re new to sales and seeking to diversify your experiences as well as work in relevant fields. The following jobs can give you a solid background that will help you as an independent sales consultant:

  • Customer service
  • Sales representative
  • Retail services
  • Food service
  • Account executive
  • Marketing specialist


Joining a professional organization, such as MANA, also gives you networking opportunities and resources for learning more about the industry. Trade associations for the industries in which you’re interested also provide insights.

3. Update and Advance your Resume with Sales Certifications

Certifications demonstrate your expertise and commitment. While they’re not necessary, they can give you some clout when you’re launching your freelance business. Besides, certifications in sales aren’t very popular so educating yourself and earning certificates at the same time sounds like too good of a deal.

Some of the most common global certifications in sales include the following:

4. Learn How to Use Sales Tools as a Freelancer

Depending on your niche, you may need special equipment to demonstrate a product, organize sales processes, and communicate with your clients. The companies with which you work may also provide you with software to use during the term of your contract. Learning how to use and make full of them each is vital to understand sales requirements and processes, some tools and softwares you may need to learn to use include:

  • Customer relationship management softwares like Salesforce, Hubspot, Pipedrive
  • Sales intelligence tools like Clearbit, Groove,
  • Reporting and analytics tools like Google Analytics 4, Heap, Tableau
  • Lead handling softwares like Salesloft, Aircall

5. How to Find the First Client as an Independent Sales Contractor

One of the most important skills that will differentiate you from your competitors is the ability to satisfy customers while improving a company’s bottom line. Advertising your freelance business through Fiverr or Upwork and offering your services to your current network opens the door for opportunities. Take on as many as possible to expand your portfolio and establish your reputation.

The following professional associations also offer networking opportunities and resources that you can take advantage of:

How to Become a Freelance Management Consultant

Freelance management consulting is a growing field with potential for entry into many modern industries. As a freelance management consultant, you’ll spend most of your energy on strategy development and planning as well as operations.

1. Enhance Your Management Skills

The most prevalent gigs for freelance management consultants are in marketing and sales strategy, business processes and opportunity assessment. Therefore, you’ll need a strong background in the following areas:

  • Project management – Planning, research, budget analysis, tracking, reporting, workflow management and team-building
  • Systems optimization – Identifying current challenges and successes, assessing performance and making and tracking changes
  • Market analysis – Evaluating the market for the industries in which you’ll be working as well as the freelance management consulting market to establish your freelance business
  • Strategic planning – Several books on strategic planning offer advice to expand your knowledge and perspective.

2. Acquire Relevant Management Experiences

It sounds like no-brainer to have some previous management experiences in order to go solo and offer management consulting services to other companies. Gaining relevant experiences in the same industry or niches are the most favorable. However, it’s also beneficial to gain leadership experience in and out of the workplace in, for example:

  • Leading community initiatives
  • Managing a project at work
  • Leading a local sports team
  • Training employees
  • Running and owning successful marketing campaigns

3. How to Find the First Client as a Freelance Management Consultant

Networking throughout your career is an excellent way to increase your prospects when you start freelancing. Get to know the local business community, and make sure that your online connections, such as your LinkedIn profile and bios on freelance marketplace sites are impeccable.

The following professional associations offer networking and learning opportunities:

How to Become Freelance Financial Advisory Consultant

A freelance financial advisory consultant helps companies identify financial risks and opportunities. In addition to a meticulous mind for numbers, you’ll need to understand business processes so that you can make recommendations for growth and risk management.

1. Get the Right Financial Credentials

Depending on your location, you need certain credentials to work in the financial industry. In the U.S., financial advisors need specific licenses to offer some services. Europe has different licensing requirements for investment advisors. In many cases, you’ll need an understanding of International Financial Reporting Standards.

2. Improve Your Financial Skills

In addition to having a certain level of business knowledge, you’ll need to enhance your financial expertise in the following areas:

  • Bankruptcy planning
  • Debt management
  • Restructuring
  • Valuations
  • Merger and acquisition strategies
  • Audits
  • Compliance


To stay on top of trends and advance your knowledge in financing, it also helps to stay updated and learn from major industry publications, such as:

4. Specify Your Financial Services and Niches as a Freelancer

As a freelance financial advisory consultant, you can work in the following in-demand sectors:

  • Transaction services
  • Corporate finance
  • Risk management
  • Crisis and recovery
  • Accounting advisory
  • Tax advisory
  • Real estate
  • Forensics and litigation

5. How to Find the First Client as a Freelance Financial Advisory Consultant

Working in the financial sector will provide you with a network that you can access when you’re seeking your first clients. Prepare case studies that portray your successful track record. Most of popular marketplaces also list jobs for freelance finance analysis or specialist so you can start looking for your first client from there: Upwork, Toptal, etc.

Joining also following organizations for access to events in finance industry to connect with other financial people or employers who are looking to hire freelance talents:



How to Become an IT Freelance Consultant

As an IT freelance consultant, you’ll make recommendations for improving an organization’s technology systems. While technology is a fast-changing industry, your job also involves advising the companies of technological updates, cybersecurity assessment and helping them make decisions about technologies that are used in the workplace. 

1. Learn and Solidify Your IT-Specific Knowledge

Understanding technologies deeply in one area and widely across different aspects is important to get into a freelance career as an IT consultant. To begin with, equip yourself with a nice breadth of technology areas and then find your strength along the way. Some skills that are relevant and can help to grasp key elements of IT include:

  • Programming
  • Web development
  • Database fundamentals
  • Computer architecture
  • System design, development and migration
  • Software testing

2. Gain your First IT Experiences

Junior positions in QA testing, software development, cyber security, or ideally IT consultant will help you gain real-life and practical experiences and increase important IT skills. You can start small but being consistent and never stop advancing your IT knowledge will absolutely pay dividends for your long-term career as an IT consultant.

3. Upgrade by Achieving IT Certifications

There are several certifications to build a foundation or upgrade your skills. Some of the most popular include:

2. How to Find the First Client as an IT Freelance Consultant

Your online presence may be the most vital for this position. You can get your first clients by offering services to companies with which you have worked and networking via social media.

Here are some other tips for finding first or new clients as an IT freelance consultant:

  • Ask for referrals from existing IT consultant clients
  • Create strategic partnerships with your IT network
  • Build personal branding by publish articles on a blog or tech publication
  • Attend industry events to network with other IT professionals or potential businesses who work in IT industry
  • Scout IT jobs on freelance marketplaces for tech people like Stepstone, Witted, Thriv, etc.

Some Tips to Land your First Job as a Freelance Consultant  

The easiest and fastest hack to find your first consulting clients is to look to the people around you. Members of your community, people in your social circle, and professional contacts can all benefit from your services. For example, as a design consultant, you likely know someone whose company's design language could use a little updating. If you're a management consultant, then you probably know of a business in your local community that is dealing with high turnover, poor performance, a lack of inter-departmental coordination, or another management-related issue. As a digital consultant, you can reach out to your connections who have businesses that may need your strategies and advice to leverage their data to strengthen their visibility across digital platforms.

No matter what sort of consulting you do, you need to keep your eyes peeled for opportunities early on. Don't be afraid to reach out to potential clients. The worst that they can do is say that they don't want your help. While it is important to know your worth and not let others take advantage of you, you may want to offer discounted services early in your freelance consulting career to build your reputation and bolster your portfolio.

Even if you have a great portfolio, new clients won't just appear out of thin air. If you want to broaden your reach, then you need to cast a wide net. You should scour freelance marketplaces, social media platforms, niche forums, and all relevant spaces for clients who need help. Joining clubs, groups, and professional associations related to your area of expertise can also help you gain access to potential clients and build beneficial relationships with others in your field. 

Once you have clients, you'll want to get paid, so take advantage of Xolo Go's powerful features to invoice your clients in 150+ countries and get paid in different currencies and manage your cash flow while remaining compliant with EU regulations.

the freelancer's favorite pay-as-you-go invoicing tool

How To Start a Freelance Consulting Business

As a freelance consultant, officially opening a company is the best move for your bottom line. You can get better tax rates, greater legal protections, more credibility, and easier access to capital by starting an EU company. Some common legal forms that are appropriate for freelancers are sole proprietorship, private limited liability company depending on your country of residence. 

After choosing your solo company’s legal structure, you’ll have to register it and start to set up processes as well as procedures to get your business going. 

Fortunately, you can quickly start a company and gain e-residency in Estonia to more efficiently reach the lucrative EU market. With Xolo Leap, we’ll manage the hard parts of registering and establishing your business-of-one. You’ll have your brand new Estonian private limited liability company (OÜ) up and running with our legal and accounting support. The best part is that you can run the company from anywhere you wish and leave the boring admin aspects like submitting tax returns or invoicing to our hands.

How To Manage Finances for Your Freelance Consulting Business

Get Paid as a Freelance Consultant

You can receive payments hourly, by milestone, in multiple installments, with a deposit, once the job is done, and in a myriad of other ways. There is no limit to how you might get paid for your services, and each system has its pros and cons. However, you must come to a clear understanding with the client about payments before you take on a project. Failure to work out these terms beforehand can lead to serious misunderstandings down the road.

Although it's easy to figure out the minutiae of your compensation, if you're dealing with personal bank accounts and a bunch of different payment methods, then you may have to spend hours on back-and-forth emails with your clients every week just to get paid. Your time is valuable, and you have more important things to focus on. With Xolo Leap, you can quickly and easily send EU-compliant invoices and receive secure payments with top-of-the-line banking tools.

Manage Expenses and Income as a Freelance Consultant

To gauge your success and plan for the future, you need to know how your business is performing financially. For this reason, you should do everything in your power to track your income and expenses. Xolo Leap provides useful analytics to help you understand your financial situation and leverage this knowledge to succeed. Good cash flow is a vital aspect of running a successful freelance business, and Xolo Leap features provide a sleek interface to quickly visualize all of your expenses and income. Moreover, you can manage and reimburse expenses and download withdrawal reports to submit to your accountant all from a sleek, easy-to-use dashboard. 

Pay Taxes as a Freelance Consultant

In most EU countries, you have to pay your taxes as a freelancer. Otherwise, you will incur serious financial penalties, and you may even face criminal charges. Thankfully, Xolo's software services come with automated compliance accounting, and Xolo Leap also includes accounting support to make keeping EU-compliant records and paying taxes as simple as possible. Not only does Xolo Leap automatically calculate VAT when generating invoices, but it also helps you quickly deduct business expenses so that you never overpay when tax season rolls around. 

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Become a Freelance Consultant Without Any Admin Hassles with Xolo

Becoming a freelance consultant will give you more freedom than ever before and allow you to greatly increase your earning potential. You want to break free of the limitations of traditional employment, but you have to make sure that you manage your records and finances properly. 

Luckily, you don't have to deal with these vital yet complex aspects of running your business alone. Xolo Go and Xolo leap will streamline your accounting, make invoicing quick and simple, and help you remain compliant with EU regulations with little effort on your part. Invoice your clients without a company or start your own remote EU business!