What are professional service businesses?

Professional services businesses are a vital part of the American economy. They also play a key role in the health, vitality and well being of our communities. These are businesses started by people who are experts in a wide variety of different fields. They use their knowledge to help others improve their lives in all sorts of ways. 

They can help solve problems or accomplish goals. The thing that sets them apart is that they provide non-physical expertise and guidance to their clients and customers. So, while a plumber or HVAC technician is an expert and we certainly depend on their services, they aren’t considered professional services businesses.

There are so many types of professional services businesses. Doctors, attorneys, and financial planners are common examples but there are many other people offering their expertise in fields you might not have thought of. For instance, acting coaches, artists, and speech pathologists.

Because the fields of professional services are so broad; involving the arts, science, medicine, business, and finance, you might find an opportunity for yourself to start a professional services business.

How do professional service businesses operate?

The exact way that professional services operate can depend heavily on the service provided. Some professionals may charge a flat fee for a service. For example, an attorney might quote a price to draft a will for their client, regardless of how long the work actually takes.

On the other hand, businesses may receive a commission or fee for transactions while others may charge by the hour. Individual owners choose how to charge based on industry standards and what works best for them. Some may charge hourly in some situations and a flat fee in others. Some may simply charge a retainer fee and complete work as needed.

What are some examples of professional services?

While classic examples of professional services are careers like medicine or law, the definition has expanded to cover hundreds of essential and helpful fields. Here are just a few of the areas in which you’d find a professional services business.

You’ll find professional services businesses in IT, software and computers. They help keep other businesses and institutions up and running and safe from threats like ransomware or viruses.

Other professional services businesses are in the financial field. They help other businesses, schools and individuals manage their finances, keep the books and plan for the future.

Legal professionals provide a host of different services beyond simply arguing in the courtroom. Intellectual Property lawyers consult on things like copyrights. Environmental lawyers are often essential consultants on navigating regulations for large building projects.

Doctors, dentists and therapists provide help to individuals to better manage their health and well-being. This field of professional services has expanded in the recent decades to include physicians assistants, nurse practitioners and more.

The list goes on and on of experts in their fields who provide professional services. Translators, tutors, artists are just a few of the other occupations you’ll find represented as professional services businesses.

What are the steps to starting a professional services business?

There are a few things you’ll need to check and consider before getting your professional service business off the ground:

Licensing and certification

First, Many professional services fields have particular licensing requirements before you can officially start a business.

For example, a lawyer needs to take and pass the bar before they can hold themselves out as a professional attorney. Financial planners need to take specific exams like the Series 7. Therapists usually need to complete a long training period before being certified as Marriage and Family Therapists.

Check with the licensing board for your state and field for what’s required. Remember that to maintain a professional license, there are usually ongoing educational requirements, so its important to stay up to date.


You’ll want to set up a business bank account. Choose an account type and bank that has experience working with your type of business. Remember that those in the legal field need to be aware of the very strict standards for keeping personal and client funds separate.


There’s several factors to consider when choosing a location. There may be zoning requirements you need to be aware of if you are starting a medical or dental practice.

Think about how you’ll be meeting with clients and customers and choose the office space that will work best for you. Sometimes, having no office at all is possible if you meet with clients at their location or through internet conferencing.

Business Form

Choosing a business form is also important. Some of these professions lend themselves well to being sole proprietorships. Others will be limited liability partnerships or companies or even S-corps.

A professional service business allows you to serve customers and your community.

People depend on professional service businesses. This is why these businesses and the people who start them are among the most respected people in their communities. People really appreciate it when you help them reach their goals or solve their problems with your specialized expertise.

Think of the many times in your own life that people in professional services helped you in so many different ways. By choosing to start a professional services business, you have the chance to be that person who provides an essential skill to improve someone else’s life.

Remember that professional service businesses are not just doctors and lawyers. The examples in this article are just a handful of the professions that people choose. Consider where you are now in terms of education, what your passions are, and how much of an investment in time and money you’d like to make. This will help guide you to the perfect professional service business.

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