Advice for starting up a new database consulting business?

  • Hi all,

    I'm in the process of putting together a business plan for a new database consulting business I want to start up with a friend of mine. Our goal is to help companies solve database-related problems. I've a fairly good amount of experience working with databases, both in terms of administering as well as designing them, and I've also got the MCTS 70-433 for SQL Server 2008, and I think I'm pretty well qualified for dealing with most problems companies could face. Specifically, I expect the problems we'd be helping solve would involve database performance issues arising from poor database design or lack of indexes, disaster recovery, and implementing proper maintenance routines and procedures. We're not really looking to attract business from the mom-and-pop café that needs help with their Access database or Excel spreadsheet - ideally we'd be targeting the small- to mid-sized business market, with clients that have at least a basic MS SQL or MySQL database setup, but who don't necessarily have the resources or budget to afford a full-time professional DBA, and have instead resorted to having people with limited experience managing their databases.

    I'm wondering if any of you have any experience with this, and could give some advice. Specifically, I'm hoping people can help out in terms of what approach we should be taking for gathering business. We had thought Google AdWords would be a good start, but looking at the AdWords campaign for my region (Montreal, Quebec), there's pretty much nobody advertising for anything database-related. Searching on Google with common database problems also doesn't really yield any results for companies advertising to solve those problems, so we've not much to go on for market research. We're almost considering just turning to door-to-door or cold-calling, but that just seems so old-fashioned.

    I'd also be curious to hear about whether the Microsoft certification I have is sufficient to attract the business we're hoping to gather. Of course more is better, but would the higher-level certification help significantly in attracting business, or would it be more likely to just be icing on the cake?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

  • Have at least 6 months income in the bank before you quit your job. More is better. It'll be slow to start, and you will have periods with little to no work.

    Keep in mind that you're not just competing with other companies in Canada, you're competing with people/companies across the world. Similarly, you aren't limited to working only with clients in Canada.

    Gail Shaw
    Microsoft Certified Master: SQL Server, MVP, M.Sc (Comp Sci)
    SQL In The Wild: Discussions on DB performance with occasional diversions into recoverability

    We walk in the dark places no others will enter
    We stand on the bridge and no one may pass

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