The U.S. consulting industry is worth an estimated $330 billion in 2023—that’s a big pie to carve a slice from. The opportunity is huge and the payoff rewarding. From creating your own hours to choosing the types of clients and businesses you work with, starting a consulting business offers freedom, stability and lots of opportunity.
When launching a new consulting business, creating a business website is a must, but so is finding the right idea for you. Below, we share 23 consulting business ideas that will help you fully embrace your entrepreneurial spirit.
23 creative consulting business ideas to try
01. Career consultant
As a career consultant, you’ll provide clients with guidance around career development and assistance with networking. Your role will typically include helping with job searches, salary negotiations and communications coaching.
Career coaching is ideal for entrepreneurs who have a background in human resources. Certificates from life and career coaching institutions can also be beneficial, but they aren’t required. You can differentiate yourself by focusing on a specific market sector based on your own background, such as healthcare or retail. Like many of the ideas on this list, career coaching doubles as a service business, so creating a professional service website is also an important first step.
02. IT consultant
IT consulting businesses provide a wide range of information technology services and often act as an outsourced "tech support" department for small-to-medium businesses (SMBs). Technology and IT consultants can focus on one specific aspect of IT, like cybersecurity and threat management, or offer a menu of IT support packages like server support, data backup and managed IT.
These consultants often choose a specific industry to build their business around (like healthcare, legal, SMBs, etc.), but this isn't a requirement. Wherever your experience lies, IT consulting is a great small business opportunity if you have technical expertise and want to branch out on your own.
03. Legal consultant
A legal consultant provides guidance on legal matters to businesses or individuals. For example, they may help businesses with compliance issues, contracts and policies, or advise individuals on things like divorce law, accidents/injuries and elder law. For this reason, a person who wants to start a legal consultancy business should have specialized knowledge in a field(s) of law like healthcare, human rights or elder law.
Many states require lawyers to have a law license in that state before offering services or taking clients. It's important to research your state's regulations and requirements before launching a legal consultancy business.
04. Fitness consultant
A fitness consultant works with clients to improve their level of fitness or reach a specific fitness goal. They offer services like one-on-one training sessions (often sold in packages), group fitness classes and meal consulting/planning. Some fitness consultants focus on specific sports or disciplines, like yoga for new mothers, endurance training for marathons or strength and conditioning.
Learn more: How to start a fitness business
In the U.S., there are no national or state licensing requirements for working as a personal trainer, but it can set you apart if you take the time to get licensed. Training certification programs are available through organizations like the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) or the American Council on Exercise (ACE).
05. Translation consultant
Entrepreneurs who specialize in translation do more than help people communicate—they serve as a bridge between worlds, helping people and businesses connect. Translation consultants provide a variety of services including document translation, transcription and live interpretation.
To start your business, you should be fluent in at least two languages and be extremely familiar with the culture of the countries whose languages you translate. While you don't need to be certified, it can help you stand out if you have a degree in linguistics. You should also spend some time researching different types of translation businesses, services and needs. This helps you narrow down your focus and is a great way to begin differentiating your company and brand from competitors.
06. Business consultant
Business consultant is another hybrid between a consulting and service business idea, covering all aspects of business planning and training. It can include consulting-only services (such as coaching or guidance) or task-oriented services (such as creating a business plan or recruiting leadership). Business consultants tend to focus on one or two areas, such as human resources, marketing, strategy/planning or employee upskilling.
Learn more: How to start a successful business
Leadership and talent management is an example of concentrated business consulting expertise. Companies like Elsey Consulting Group work with businesses on leadership development, team building, strategic planning and process improvement. All business consultants provide guidance to their clients on how to improve an aspect of their existing business and work with them to develop plans for improvement.
07. Marketing consultant
Marketing consultants work with businesses to create, launch and manage marketing campaigns. Depending on the focus, services might include market research, brand development, content creation, search marketing (paid and organic search) and paid digital marketing (creating ads on Google, YouTube, Facebook, etc.). Marketing consultants also provide valuable insights on campaign performance and optimize those campaigns to improve effectiveness.
Wix can simplify this process by allowing you to manage Facebook and Instagram Ads and Google Ads right from your website dashboard. As a marketing consultant, this can streamline your workflow: you can easily manage campaigns, optimize ads and track insights all in one place, without having to hop between marketing channels.
A background in marketing, particularly in a focused area like mobile marketing or search marketing, is helpful but not required to start a business in marketing consulting. You will certainly need excellent communication and analytical skills, and an interest in the latest marketing and consumer trends.
08. Public relations (PR) consultant
Public relations consultants help businesses manage their public image and brand identity, and create buzz about a company, product or person. They're often hired to manage a crisis or maintain a company's overall reputation.
Media outreach is a big part of this job, so it's important for PR consultants to have a relationship with editors, media outlets and influencers. If you're early into your career, take some time to build these relationships. This requires some amount of fearlessness and persistence since it involves constant outreach and cold calling. As a PR consultant, you’ll be expected to handle press releases, events, influencer outreach and crisis management.
This type of consulting might suit you if you have a background in journalism, communications or media. One way to stand out from competing PR firms and consultants is to build a niche in a specific industry like food, travel or publishing.
09. Social media management
Social media consultants help companies create and manage organic and paid ad strategies on social media. The job requires you to stay informed about the latest social media news, trends and platform changes. You should be adept in providing strategic guidance, developing social media content and creating reports that tie campaign goals to outcomes.
Your focus could be on a specific platform or tactic, such as Instagram Ad campaigns, TikTok marketing or organic business profile building. While it's easy for companies to build and launch social media campaigns, many SMBs don't have the expertise in-house to run these campaigns efficiently or effectively. That's where you can provide value.
To start your consulting business, you should be skilled in leveraging major social media platforms to achieve business goals like lead generation, sales and brand building.
10. Event planning and production
Event planning can include planning small events like birthday parties and family reunions, or large-scale events like conferences, trade shows and weddings. Services tend to focus on event logistics, such as venue selection, supplier sourcing and securing vendors. You'll also work with clients to create any content (or secure vendors who do this) for the event, like programs, invitations and announcements.
Learn more: How to start a party planning business
This is an excellent consulting business for entrepreneurs who are highly organized and adept at project management. While there's not much overhead required to launch an event planning business, you may want to get certified by the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) if you plan to work with larger companies. It helps to have relationships with vendors like caterers, sound engineers, photographers, videographers and printers.
11. Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) consultant
A diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) consultant helps organizations create a safe and inclusive place for all employees. Services provided depend on the need but often include training, workshops and seminars that promote cultural competency and understanding.
It's helpful to have a degree in a subject like psychology, sociology or equity/diversity studies so that you fully understand the complexities around equity and inclusion. You should also have experience working with DEI initiatives, either in the corporate or nonprofit space. Most importantly, you should be passionate about social justice and know how to lead DEI efforts from a results-driven perspective.
12. Animal behavior consultant
Animal behavior consultants help pet owners better understand their pets and learn how to establish a healthy relationship. Often, they'll work with pet owners to address a behavior problem like chronic barking, separation anxiety and phobias. Services could include one-on-one sessions, workshops, seminars or online training courses.
You’ll need formal training and certification to be an animal behaviorist, including a graduate degree in behavioral or biological science, and hands-on experience working with animals. The Animal Behavior Society (ABS) sets the minimum standards of education, experience and ethics for this field. Depending on the level of certification you want, it’s important to note that it can take several years of training and education to be an animal behaviorist.
13. Healthcare consultant
Healthcare consultants help their clients overcome barriers to quality care by assisting with tasks like finding doctors, scheduling appointments, locating specialists and researching treatment options. If you have health insurance expertise, you can even advise U.S.-based small businesses or individuals in selecting health insurers and choosing a plan.
There's a huge opportunity for licensed healthcare providers like doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners to help patients navigate a complex diagnosis or medical issue. For example, Swell Health provides this type of guidance on its healthcare consulting website. Swell Health connects visitors with physicians that provide medical opinions on a range of health issues.
14. Virtual assistant
Virtual assistants primarily provide administrative support to SMBs and entrepreneurs. Examples of services include managing email, coordinating schedules, overseeing social media accounts, transcribing documents and organizing files. The sky's the limit with potential add-on services that you could offer (based on your experience and interest). For example, you could provide event planning, travel planning or online marketing services, depending on what your client needs.
Learn more: How to start a virtual assistant business
Organizational skills are essential to succeed, as your primary job is to keep your clients organized. Proficiency with office software is a prerequisite as well, since this is as much a project management role as it is an administrative one.
15. Personal style consultant
Personal style consultants advise clients on clothing, makeup, accessories, shoes and hairstyles with the goal of helping them look their best. They provide consulting sessions on wardrobe selection, color analysis, body type assessment and even closet organization.
Style consultants often provide guidance and shopping assistance for special occasions like weddings, and most offer personal shopping trips to help clients select items and build their wardrobe. If you have excellent communication skills, an eye for fashion and a solid understanding of how color and style works with different body types, this could be the business for you.
16. Cannabis business consultant
Cannabis business consultants help companies in this burgeoning industry handle the complexities around starting and running a cannabis business. There’s also a lot of red tape around marketing and advertising that companies need help with navigating. Services could include creating a business plan, obtaining necessary licenses, sourcing suppliers and helping clients understand compliance issues.
A background in business or entrepreneurship is helpful for this type of consulting business, but if you have expertise in the cannabis industry, that’s enough to get started. Depending on the state, you may need a license to serve as a cannabis consultant and there may be additional requirements for those who want to work with medical marijuana patients.
17. Professional organizer
Professional organizers work with individuals and businesses to bring order to chaos. They focus on making cluttered spaces more usable so that their clients can be more productive. This includes teaching clients how to avoid clutter, setting up organizational systems and providing advice on storage solutions.
While no formal education is necessary, experts in this field tend to have degrees in related fields like psychology, business or interior design. This is as much a consulting business as it is a service-oriented business, since you'll work with clients to assess their situation and use your expertise to help them create an effective organization strategy. If you have a passion for order, an eye for design and an interest in helping people find balance, this could be the perfect business for you.
18. Home staging
Home staging consultants help homeowners get their house market-ready by using techniques and tactics to improve its appeal to prospective buyers. Home stagers provide services like redesigning or rearranging furniture, decluttering, selecting art and advising on room layout. The goal of staging is to show off the property’s best features and give buyers the ability to visualize themselves living in the space.
Staging spaces can be done in vacant homes or existing ones (with the owner's permission). If you have a knack for interior design and are familiar with the real estate market, then this is a good consulting business to consider. It may require some upfront costs like furniture rental, but you can pass this onto your clients, so there's not much overhead to worry about.
19. SEO consultant
An SEO consultant offers services to help businesses improve their website's ranking in search engine results—notably Google’s. Services offered may include (but aren't limited to) keyword research, content optimization, link building and technical SEO. It's not uncommon for SEO consultants to offer other marketing or specialty services like local SEO (the process of optimizing a website for local search results), social media management and email marketing.
Learn more: How to start a marketing business
If you have a background in web design, copywriting or digital marketing, there's huge potential to build a business as an SEO consultant. You don't need any certifications, though it’s helpful to understand website analytics tools (like Google Analytics), SEO research tools (like Semrush or Ahrefs) and content management systems.
20. Resume writing consultant
A resume writing consultant works with job seekers to create effective resumes that showcase their skills, experience and achievements. The consultant spends time with each client to gain a comprehensive understanding of their expertise, career goals and potential opportunities. They then create a custom resume tailored to the individual client. Services may also include cover letter writing, profile optimization on websites like LinkedIn and interview coaching.
Resume writers need strong writing skills, knowledge of hiring trends and the ability to effectively communicate with clients. A background in human resources or recruiting is often the starting point for a resume writing consultancy. In addition, a sound foundation in workflow management skills—and the tools that support them—is helpful since resume writers tend to work with many individuals concurrently.
21. Infant or pediatric sleep consultant
Infant and pediatric sleep consultants help new parents establish healthy sleep habits for their baby or child. This is an excellent small business opportunity for entrepreneurs who have a background in parenting, psychology or nursing. It helps to be familiar with the latest research on infant/pediatric sleep patterns and practices, too.
Beloved June is an example of a sleep consultancy business that provides a range of services for new parents. The business is owned by Ashley McAlexander, RN, BSN, a certified infant and pediatric sleep consultant. Services include sleep consulting, lactation support and potty training (among others).
22. Creative mindset coach
Creative mindset coaches use a combination of coaching and creative techniques to help clients get "unstuck" and overcome creative blocks. They focus on finding solutions to problems and work with clients to move past obstacles that may keep them from producing their best work. Services often include brainstorming sessions, task-based activities, goal setting, journaling prompts, mindfulness practices and life coaching.
Learn more: How to start a coaching business
This one's for you if you have experience with the arts or psychology. It's helpful to have experience with teaching or coaching so that you can provide guidance on creating habits that promote creative flow (something all creatives need).
23. Landscape design consultant
Landscape design consultants work with homeowners, businesses or both to create beautiful outdoor spaces. They assess the existing state of a space, create a plan to improve the landscape design and help source plants and materials. They may also hire contractors for yard clean-ups, planting and installing hardscapes like decks and patios.
Learn more: How to start a landscaping business
Landscape designers can explore offering maintenance packages to ensure that their clients' outdoor spaces are well-kept. Unlike landscape architects, landscape design doesn't require professional education and licensing. Even so, it helps to have training and experience in horticulture and landscaping. It's additionally beneficial to have a network of contractors who can provide any hardscaping services needed (this could be part of your value proposition).
For more inspiration check out this extensive list of consulting business name ideas.