Start a health and safety consulting business by following these 10 steps:
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your health and safety consulting business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Check out our How to Start a Business page.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a health and safety consulting business?
Application and examination fees for the CSP certification add up to about $500. You'll have to obtain office equipment and testing gear. For instance, a sound-level meter can detect excessively loud environments. High-quality units fetch at least $50 and especially precise models cost over $250. You probably need a vehicle, but you could use taxis and public transit to reach businesses in an urban area. Don't forget to consider your own safety; purchase items like goggles and N95 masks to wear while you conduct inspections. You can acquire both products for less than $20.
What are the ongoing expenses for a health and safety consulting business?
Consultants benefit from relatively low expenditures. Monthly phone, internet, and electric bills must be paid. They might total $60 to $110 per month. You'll probably spend some cash on fuel or transit fares as well. Other expenses include ongoing education and marketing.
Don't ignore the risk that an overlooked workplace hazard could trigger a lawsuit. Be sure to purchase professional liability insurance with errors and omissions coverage. Small firms with no employees normally pay around $550 to $1,050 each year for professional liability insurance.
Who is the target market?
Businesses with potentially hazardous workplaces hire these experts. Possible clients include manufacturers, construction companies, trucking firms, and warehouses. Large facilities tend to need more services and have the ability to pay higher amounts. Try to find clients who show genuine interest in improving safety throughout their organizations. It's best if you have specialized knowledge or work experience pertaining to their industry.
How does a health and safety consulting business make money?
Different firms charge hourly, daily, or flat fees. A client can pay for one-time services or sign a contract that specifies a certain number of hours per month. Consultants may earn more when the government tightens regulations and/or promotes domestic manufacturing.
How much can you charge customers?
It's not uncommon for businesses to pay $100/hour or $900 to $1,250 per day. When serving as expert witnesses, consultants receive around $175 per hour on average. These rates may or may not include travel expenses. Some entrepreneurs provide discounts when clients hire them for multiple days.
How much profit can a health and safety consulting business make?
In general, successful consultants achieve profit margins of at least 80%. There's little data on the profits earned by independent health and safety professionals, but their fees and expenses resemble those of other business consultants.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Consider offering more services. For instance, you could write safety manuals, serve as an expert witness, or provide first-aid training. Try to work remotely when possible. If you use books and magazines to learn about health and safety, you can probably deduct their cost on your tax return. Keep the receipts and invoices you need to document these potential deductions:
- A portion of certain utility bills
- Website setup, hosting, and advertising
- Equipment like safety gear and meters
- Some types of training and education
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is very important. Read our detailed guide on how to name your business. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your health and safety consulting business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.
Open net-30 accounts
When it comes to establishing your business credit, net-30 vendors are considered the way to go. The term "net-30," which is popular among vendors, refers to a business credit arrangement where the company pays the vendor within 30 days of receiving goods or services.
Net-30 credit terms are often used for businesses that need to obtain inventory quickly but do not have the cash on hand.
Besides establishing business relationships with vendors, net-30 credit accounts get reported to the major business credit bureaus (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, and Equifax Business Credit). This is how businesses build business credit so they can qualify for credit cards and other lines of credit.
Recommended: Read our guide on the best net-30 vendors so you can start building business credit now, so you never have to worry about cash flow in the future. Keep in mind that poor cash flow is the #1 reason businesses fail!
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
How to promote & market a health and safety consulting business
You can spread the word through an informative website, business networking efforts, and social media posts about workplace safety news. Try mailing personalized letters to desirable clients or advertising in a business journal. You could save time by using a professional marketing firm, but this will cost substantially more.
How to keep customers coming back
Consider writing articles that demonstrate your in-depth knowledge of safety precautions and rules. Highlight the cost efficiency, potential tax deductions, and unbiased perspective offered by outside consultants. You could also mention overlooked benefits of greater safety, such as preventing downtime and reducing employee recruitment costs. Keep a list of references for prospective clients who request them. Send monthly or quarterly newsletters to anyone who has purchased or expressed interest in your services.
To keep existing customers, always stay up to date on the latest regulations and safety technology. Learn about the rules enforced at all levels of government. Try to suggest affordable yet effective solutions when you discover hazards.
Still unsure about what kind of business you want to start? Check out the latest Small Business Trends to help inspire you.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use.
Recommended: Find the best phone system for your business; check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2021.
Start A Health and Safety Consulting Business In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Is this Business Right For You?
You might thrive in this profession if you care about keeping people safe and want to make a positive impact on society. Consultants should excel at understanding and memorizing complicated regulations. This line of work requires you to pay close attention to a wide range of details. You must be assertive and willing to deliver "bad news" when necessary.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a health and safety consulting business?
Consultants regularly visit facilities to perform inspections. You'll examine buildings, equipment, and vehicles. It's also crucial to listen to employees and evaluate their work practices. Clients may expect you to prepare detailed reports. They will discuss safety problems with you and let you recommend the best solutions. If a person suffers injuries in the workplace, you might study the incident and suggest precautions that could prevent it from happening again. Some consultants provide safety-oriented training as well.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful health and safety consulting business?
Some prosperous entrepreneurs have worked for regulatory agencies or served as safety directors at businesses in the past. Either way, it's vital to communicate well. You ought to understand the jargon but know how to explain concepts in a way that anyone can comprehend. Writing abilities also prove valuable. Consider earning a relevant college degree before you enter this field. Although optional, a Certified Safety ProfessionalⓇ credential is helpful as well – it requires a bachelor's degree and four years of relevant experience.
What is the growth potential for a health and safety consulting business?
Demand for this service has increased as more companies choose to outsource safety-related tasks. Experts forecast growth of around 6% in the years ahead. Some profitable consultancies expand by establishing several offices. For example, Antea Group provides expert advice on health, safety, and environmental issues. It has 25 locations in major cities across the United States.
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Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a health and safety consulting business?
Think about specializing in a certain industry or type of facility, especially if many potential clients have nearby locations. A warehouse or transportation safety adviser may customize marketing campaigns for that sector and attract clients more easily.
Although people can study to become consultants on their own, most clients expect health and safety advisers to have four-year degrees and significant work experience. State law may not require consultants to have a degree, but you'll face major obstacles if you lack these qualifications.
It's sometimes necessary to reduce productivity or efficiency to ensure safety. However, you should try to find ways to uphold all three priorities. The best recommendations are those that genuinely protect workers because a business is willing to implement them. At the same time, always tell a client about any law violations.
Avoid blaming individuals for problems. When people make mistakes, figure out why it happens or what could reduce the risk. Perhaps employees find it difficult to perform a task while using the provided safety gear. Then again, maybe the company pressures its staff to work too quickly.
How and when to build a team
Although they might outsource certain office tasks to independent contractors, these professionals usually don't need employees. You can refer potential customers to a fellow consultant when you don't have enough time to serve them. On the other hand, you could hire a second health and safety adviser if this happens regularly. They earn $65 per hour on average, according to Salary.com.