Health and safety is a vital part of any industry. Most governments have strict regulations on working conditions, so businesses need to employ someone to ensure their safety regulations are appropriate and effective. In cases where they need further assistance, companies may hire safety consultants to provide more expert advice.

This article will serve as a guide to setting up your own safety consulting company. We’ll try to cover every step in setting up your company, like getting clients and any necessary qualifications. In particular, we’ll look at subjects like:

  • Reasons to become a safety consultant
  • Qualifications you might need for a safety consulting business
  • Important steps for starting your safety consulting business
  • Deciding what services you will offer
  • How to find clients
  • How Countingup can help run your safety consulting business

Reasons to become a safety consultant

There are many different reasons a person might start a safety consulting business. For instance, you may have spent a lot of time working as a health and safety manager or advisor at large corporations but are now looking for a position with more freedom. Or maybe you’ve recently gotten a degree in a subject related to safety consulting, but you’ve been unable to get a safety advisor position with an established company. 

Whatever your reasons, starting a safety consulting company can be a great decision. It offers more freedom than working as a safety advisor as an employee, for starters. You’re able to build your own reputation and expand your network without having to fulfil the responsibilities given to you by your employers.

It’s also a great way to build your skills. If you only ever work for a single employer and become very used to their procedures, you might forget that there are other ways of doing things. By becoming a safety consultant, you’ll work for a wide range of clients and will have the opportunity to learn much more than you might pick up at a single company.

Qualifications you might need for a safety consulting business

The first thing you’ll need to start a safety consulting business is a degree in a relevant field, like Occupational Health and Safety or Safety, Security, and Emergency Management. Most universities will offer these degrees or will include them as part of a business degree.

It may also help to do a degree (or at least a course) in biology or engineering, depending on the kind of industry you’re hoping to gain as clients. If you’re hoping to win clients that operate in very specialised fields, you’ll need to have a basic understanding of their field to provide acceptable consulting services.

There are a ton of additional qualifications that a safety consultant can also look into getting:

NEBOSH qualifications

NEBOSH is the National Examination Board in Occupational Health and Safety, and the qualifications they give out are well-respected in the safety consulting world. You can get NEBOSH qualifications by completing any of their many educational courses.

Join the OSHCR 

The OSHCR is the Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register. You can make it much easier for potential clients to find your business by registering with them, and clients will trust you more because of OSHCR’s reputation. 

Keep in mind that you need two years of experience and certain other qualifications to register, so this may only be an option if you are starting your business after spending time working elsewhere.

IOSH membership

Many industries have a governing body that ensures all those working in it have appropriate qualifications. Health and safety are no different, as the IOSH fills this role for safety managers, advisors, and consultants. 

This is the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, and membership shows that you are a qualified professional. They offer several benefits for becoming a member and different membership tiers depending on your level of expertise.

Important steps for starting any business

There are a few things that anyone starting a business needs to do before selling products or offering services. If you’re going to start a safety consulting business, you’ll need to complete these too. 

Before you even start applying or registering for things, it’s wise to start planning. Your first step will usually be writing a business plan to work out what your business goals are and how you’re going to make money. You should also figure out your budget for starting a business, as it will cost a fair sum of money to set everything up.

Once you create a plan and a budget (and everything looks good), you can start the ball rolling. Look into registering as a limited company or a sole trader, depending on which sounds better for your business. Both have benefits and drawbacks, so research carefully.  

There is no specific license for being a safety consultant, but depending on the clients you’re hoping to work for, you may still need to register for a business license. If you hope to consult for a specific industry, do some research to see if there are any requirements. 

IR35

IR35 is a piece of legislation that looks to better define the difference between employees and consultants. Since employees and consultants pay taxes differently (things like income tax and national insurance contributions), it’s essential to be able to distinguish between the two easily.

Since you’ll be working as a consultant to your clients, and not an employee, it’s a good idea to research IR35 to make sure you’re paying the right amount of tax.

Deciding what services you will offer 

Different lengths of contract

As a safety consultant, you’ll be very important to your clients. You may even end up creating parts of their working policy that will be used by their employees long after you stop consulting for them. Since you’ll be so critical to how the client company operates, defining how long you’ll be working for them is vital.

Many consultants offer short term contracts where they’ll work with the client for several months or the duration of a single project. Others are freelancers where they’ll work for an hourly or daily rate. A client might even use your services for years at a time.

It’s a good idea to decide what length of contract your business will accept because you’ll have many other responsibilities as a business owner. For example, you’ll still need to be a safety consultant, but you’ll also need to be responsible for your company’s finances and marketing at the same time. This might have a huge impact on the amount of time you can devote to your clients.

Examine your qualifications

There are a lot of potential qualifications you can have as a safety consultant, and these will decide what kind of services you can offer. 

For instance, you might focus on environmental safety, so you’ll need to ensure you have the right qualifications for measuring a company’s emissions and managing its waste. Or you might focus on hygiene safety for food-based businesses.

Different fields require different qualifications, so make sure you have the appropriate ones for the type of clients you’re looking for. You may even have the necessary expertise but can’t actually provide consulting services because you don’t have an appropriate qualification or accreditation. 

It’s wise to always try to gain more knowledge, as it will allow you to take on many different clients in future.

How to find clients

Consultancy is a client-focused business, so getting clients and maintaining a steady stream of them is necessary to keep your business going. Sometimes, getting your first client as a consultant can be a real challenge. Other times it might be very quick and straightforward. 

When it comes to finding clients, it’s essential to use multiple different methods. If you rely on one strategy to win clients, you may find yourself short of work. By branching out, you’ll find many more clients —  and a greater variety of clients — than you might find otherwise. 

We’ll provide a few different ways of finding clients in this section, but there are many more tactics out there. Remember to do some research to find the best strategy for your business.

Approaching clients directly 

It takes a lot of preparation and a good deal of bravery, but you might be able to gain some clients simply by asking them to hire you.

The first step in this strategy is to do a ton of research. The first topic to check would be making sure the company in question is in the market for safety consulting services, or you’ll be wasting your time approaching them. 

You also need to research the company’s operations, like the products or services it offers. If possible, find out about its processes and procedures. Your goal when researching the company is to discover ways your consulting services can help the potential client, as you need to be able to talk about this when approaching them.

Make sure you practice what to say and how you’ll talk when you approach these potential clients for meetings. You might have a few pieces of information that are very important for potential clients, like the qualifications you have or how much you charge. Include these in your sales pitch, but also make sure the pitch is specific to the company you’re approaching.

Networking

Networking is a great way to get clients as a safety consultant because you’ll often work in very specialised industries, and these industries often have quite small professional communities. So if you work for one of these specialised companies and put some effort into networking, you can quite easily gain a good reputation in the industry and gain other similar clients. 

There are many different ways you can start networking as a safety consultant. For example, attending industry events or collaborating with other safety consulting businesses are great networking ideas. 

Joining the IOSH is a particularly good way to network as a health and safety professional, as you’ll be able to learn a huge amount about the profession. This knowledge can then be put into developing your business and winning clients. 

Social media 

Social media is important to any modern business. This is because it’s a free and fairly easy way to market your services to a vast range of people. Creating engaging content and posting it consistently can be tough, but you should be able to manage it with enough practice. Once you master this, social media is an excellent way to find new clients.

One particular advantage of using social media is that you can join communities specific to your industry. This means that you can communicate very easily with other safety consultants or people interested in hiring them, which can provide a lot of tips in the search for clients.

How Countingup can help run your safety consulting business 

As well as researching all the different requirements specific to a safety consulting business, you’ll need to practice a task common to all businesses: accounting. 

Accounting can be tough, and it’s a very time-consuming task. Since you’ll have a very long to-do list when you’re starting and running a business, you might not be able to spare much time to focus on your finances.

Luckily, there are resources available that can solve this problem. One of them is the Countingup app, which is a fantastic way to make accounting quick and easy. 

Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software that allows you to manage all your financial data in one place. With features like automatic expense categorisation, invoicing on the go, receipt capture tools, tax estimates, and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances wherever you are. 

You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Seamless, simple, and straightforward! 

Find out more here.