It's been suggested to me that I get into consulting and I am interested in the possibility of becoming an independent consultant, but I'm not sure where to start and how I would structure my rates. Most of the people I give professional and business advice to usually happen to be startups, particularly of the social enterprise and nonprofit kind, and individuals who don't have that much money to invest. Is this a valid concern or something that isn't as much of a concern as I'm making it out to be? I'm also not sure how to hone in on my expertise and make it obvious. I would love answers that even address any of those concerns, or if you see something else in my comments that I don't yet. Thanks for your help!
It's rarely spoken but always true - that which comes easiest to you is your power place, and the place from which you can best assist others. Taking the time to get deep clarity on your power place and the core values which would form the foundation of your consultant work is the first step. It's also the step most skip as they dive right into the framework, the target market, the ROI and pricing questions.
In my experience mentoring coaches and consultants, that cart before the horse process is common and sets you up for future struggles. All your questions can and will be answered if you first go through the business development process starting with your foundational exploration.
(And yes, keep your job while you explore, create your foundation and framework and then ramp up to a full-time income. You don't have to shadow another in your field, though it could be enlightening).