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10 Must-Have Marketing Tools for Small Business

Marketing your business is an essential part in creating a brand identity, driving a steady flow of projects, and spreading the word about your services. As an independent professional, not only do you have to do great work, but you have to find it as well. Keeping your brand visible and relevant in the marketplace may often seem like a job in and of itself.

Working remotely is more popular than ever before. And there are now a wide variety of tools that can help you achieve your business marketing goals. Here are 10 marketing tools and professional tips to effectively drive visibility for your business.

1. Professional Website:  Squarespace

A professional website identifies your business and service offerings to potential clients. A website is an important first step in developing a robust marketing strategy. It can help you stand out from your competitors, establish a strong online presence, and showcase creative work or past projects.

Best of all, you don’t need a technical background or coding skills to build a great website. Today, there are many tools that help walk you through the process with pre-made, customizable templates. Squarespace is a popular option that provides fully-managed website hosting, drag-and-drop interfaces, and a variety of pricing plans.

Check out: How to Set Up a Small Business Website: 5 Simple Steps

2. Keyword Optimization: Answer the Public

Once you know the topics your audience is interested in, use this insight to inform the content you create. Whether your content is a blog, social media post, or eBook, generating information about the topics your audience cares about will help drive them to your business.

Answer the Public is a tool that generates questions and topics people search for in Google based on a keyword you enter. This can be a useful way to find relevant topics for your content.

Check out: 4 Ways a Consultant Can Become an Industry Thought Leader

3. Brand Recognition: Tailor Brands

A logo creates brand recognition and makes your business more memorable. It can also help with brand consistency when used across your personal website, social media platforms, and business cards.

Tailor Brands is an online tool that walks you through creating a logo, stores the files you create, and ensures you maintain the rights to your design.

4. Graphic Design: Canva

Including a visual component in your content is a great way to pull readers in and keep them engaged. Luckily, you don’t have to be a design whiz or invest in expensive software to create eye-catching graphics.

Canva is an easy-to-use graphic design tool that provides images, photo filters, icons, shapes, fonts, and useful templates—such as infographic templates—that you can customize.

5. Social Media Assistant: Buffer

You probably already know that social media is a great way to promote your business, but managing it can quickly consume a lot of your time. Use a scheduling platform such as Buffer to curate, schedule, and send social posts from one dashboard. With an upgraded version, you can even create marketing campaigns, and use analytics and reports to see how your posts are performing.

Check out: 5 Ways to Promote Your Consulting Business on Social Media

6. Email Marketing: MailChimp

Email can be a great way to stay connected to your network—whether you use it to drive specific marketing campaigns, or to send out a weekly newsletter. MailChimp is a popular email-marketing platform that helps you send marketing emails, automated messages, and targeted campaigns. Target emails based on customer behavior or preferences, and use analytics reporting to monitor how your campaigns are doing.

Check out: 8 Effective Marketing Strategies for Consultants

7. Spell Check: Grammarly

It’s important to make a good first impression, so you don’t want a glaring spelling error to be the first thing potential clients notice. Grammarly is a Google Chrome add-on that will check over your content for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.

8. Website Monitoring: Google Analytics

Once you’ve put in the hard work to create a website, generate content, and maintain a social presence, it’s important to monitor your brand and keep an eye on your competitors.

By connecting your website to Google Analytics, you can track and report on website traffic. This free Google service offers many features including the ability to see how individual website pages are performing, which pages and links visitors click on the most, and social analytics such as the geographic location and type of devices visitors use to access your site. If you’re not sure how to get started, check out the Analytics Academy for free courses on how to set up and use Google Analytics.

9. Customer Feedback: SurveyMonkey

Customer feedback is a valuable way to gather trends and insight to improve your services. Use SurveyMonkey to quickly and easily design and send out surveys. Once you receive feedback, use analytics to evaluate your results.

10. Networking: LinkedIn

Networking is an essential part of building a brand and boosting business prospects. Even if your business isn’t big on social media, one important place to maintain a social presence is LinkedIn. LinkedIn allows you to showcase your services, connect with clients, and display your skills and successful projects.

Check out: How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile if You’re Self-Employed

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How to Develop a Website Strategy to Meet Your Goals

Website strategy is an important component of marketing your independent business. Finding and completing projects that require your expertise and skills are your primary goals as an independent professional. But no matter what field or industry you are in, you are also a business owner. This means you are not only in charge of managing and running a business, but also in charge of marketing your services to gain new clients.

While networking and referrals go a long way, having a website can spread brand awareness, enhance your credibility, promote your skills, and generate new leads. Yes, it is easy to create an out-of-the-box website and throw some text and images on a few pages, but you first need to take the time to develop a strategy if you want to see real results.

Here are five tips to creating a website strategy that will give your website purpose and let you track results:

1. Set Goals for Your Professional Website 

Before you set about creating your website, set some goals. What do you want your website to accomplish? Take some time to think about the areas in which your business is successful, where it is lacking, and what you want this marketing tool to do for you. Consider these questions:

  • Do you need to generate leads?
  • Do you need to establish credibility?
  • Do you need to validate your skills and accomplishments?
  • Do you want to establish yourself as a thought leader?

Your goals will determine the type of content you put on your website and will also help you measure the effectiveness of your site over time.

Up next: 8 Effective Marketing Strategies for Consultants

2. Position Your Website to Achieve Your Goals

Once you have a clear set of goals, you can determine the type of content you will put on your website. For example, if you’re looking to generate new leads, then create content that sells your skill set, includes calls to action, and provides forms so contacts can reach out to you. Or, if your goal is to be a thought leader, create content that promotes your expertise via blog posts, white papers, or guides. Remember, your goals will determine the type of content you create.

Up next: 3 Ways to Evaluate Small Business Goals

3. Research Your Audience

With content ideas in mind, put the shoe on the other foot and think about the expectations of your audience. Imagine you are the ideal person you want to visit your website. What would you expect to find? What would you want to learn? What type of information would be valuable to you?

A website is more than a running list of accomplishments. Your content has to pique the interest of visitors in a very short amount of time, or they will leave. Take the time to create content with messaging that gives your audience exactly what they are looking for.

Up next: How to Determine Your Target Clients as a Consultant

4. Explain Your Value

Clearly articulating your value—what you uniquely bring to the table—is an important part of standing out from competitors in your industry. When a potential or current client comes to your website, what do you want them to learn about you? What skills have helped you win projects? What is your competitive edge? How have you helped your clients? When highlighting your accomplishments, be brief and use bullet points so your visitors can digest the information quickly and easily.

Up next: 5 Tips to Write Like a Marketer and Build Your Business

5. Measure Progress to Track Goals

A website is not something you can publish and then leave to gather dust. To meet your goals, develop a strategy to measure your progress. Think about the factors that indicate success to you. These could include the number of contact forms completed, the number of visitors you receive, the amount of time visitors spend on your site, or the number of pages they view.

A good rule of thumb is to let data gather and then reassess every three to six months. You can use great tools like Google Analytics or the website traffic tools included in your website platform to analyze this data. Set benchmarks when you first begin, make changes based on your results, assess improvement, and then repeat the process.

As your business needs change and evolve over time, so will your website goals. But remember, before you create that first page on your website, develop a clear strategy that maps out exactly what you want your website to accomplish, and measure its effectiveness on a regular basis.

Up next: Create a Great Consulting Website (Guide)

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Networking Tips to Boost Small Business Growth

Networking Tips to Boost Small Business Growth

When you run your own business, who you know can be equally important as what you know. To ensure a steady flow of projects, it’s important to build and maintain a strong circle of business contacts you can rely on for work and referrals.

Below, Denise Thomas, owner of The Effective Communication Coach, gives her advice on the importance of networking. Then, we offer three networking tips to boost your business prospects.


1. Consider Mentoring or Becoming a Mentor

Yes, networking by reaching out to new people is helpful, but working closely with a mentor can build a mutually beneficial long-term relationship. A trusted colleague or industry expert can offer valuable business-related guidance and advice—especially if you’re new to consulting.

Before talking with someone about becoming your mentor, think about what benefits you anticipate receiving from the experience. If you want to learn more about using tools such as Facebook and Twitter, perhaps a younger person in your field with tech and social media expertise is the right match. Or, you may be looking for advice from someone whose viewpoint and approach to work is drastically different from yours.

Acting as a mentor to someone else is valuable as well, and can provide an opportunity to reflect on your own experience and think about how you can improve your business. Regardless of the mentoring relationship you find, working with another person can help generate ideas, creativity, and innovation that inspires future work opportunities.

Check out: Do I Need a Mentor as a Consultant?

2. Use the Internet to Your Advantage

Much of today’s networking takes place on the Internet, and social media can benefit your business so long as it is used in the right way. Here are two great ways to network online:

  • Social Networks: One of the more difficult aspects of networking is regularly staying in touch with all of your contacts. Twitter can help maintain these professional relationships. Follow your contacts to keep up with their projects and share interesting articles. Establishing yourself as a trusted authority on industry news on Twitter builds credibility and shows potential clients that you’re informed on the latest trends.

LinkedIn can be a great way to introduce yourself to key people at companies you’re interested in working with. If you have one connection in common, reach out to that mutual friend for an introduction. Explain why you’re interested in making the new connection, and ensure your profile is up-to-date. This way, your new contact will truly understand your background and the value of networking with you.

  • Professional Blog: Blogging about your industry or expertise is another way to network. Many bloggers will guest post, write articles in response to what others have written, and comment back and forth. By showcasing your talent and knowledge on a blog, you can meet potential clients as well as other independent consultants who may be able to offer support and advice.

Check out: Social Media Marketing for Small Business: Do’s and Don’ts

3. Engage in Industry Events

While there’s a wealth of networking to be done online, meeting potential leads face-to-face is always valuable. To find an event that will be the most useful for you, start by researching groups and organizations that align with your goals and interests. Before attending an event, set a goal of the number of people you want to speak with, bring your business cards, and brush up on a quick elevator pitch about your business.

While it can be intimidating to attend a group event where you don’t know anyone, just remember that it’s normal to be nervous and feel uncomfortable at first. If you’re not sure where to start, begin by asking others about their business background and why they are at the event. Then, you’ll feel more comfortable when it comes time to speak about yourself. After an event, be sure to follow up with new contacts via email or LinkedIn.

Word of mouth can be one of your most powerful marketing tools. By building and maintaining your network through a variety of methods, you’ll create a reliable group of contacts that can help to sustain and grow your business.

Check out: How to Get the Most Out of Networking Events

MBO’s Advantage program offers members-only networking events to give busy business practice owners the opportunity to network with like-minded professionals. To learn more visit MBO Advantage.

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Read what others are saying about working with MBO

Paul Sanford
Paul Sanford
Ali was pleasant and persistent - the best combination for navigating the onboarding process.
Holly Veach
Holly Veach
Love working with MBO Partners. They make the onboarding process for my projects seamless. They are professional, responsive and always answer my questions which allows me to focus on what I do best. Thanks Amanda! You're the best!
Willie Wan
Willie Wan
I worked with Alexandra O'Brien during the enrollment process. She was a pleasure to work! She was very knowledgeable on the process and kept me informed about each step. Additionally, she was extremely responsive and replied quickly to any questions I've had. Overall a friendly and great experience!
Hans Schenck
Hans Schenck
I had a great experience with Blake and team at MBO Partners. Friendly, professional, and got me over the finish line as quickly and easily as possible.
Paul Gibbons
Paul Gibbons
They are helpful and professional. Their client liaison, Blake, was immensely enthusiastic and helpful. However, it seemed to me that their background check firm were a bunch of chumps - weeks and weeks - sending stuff to them multiple times...
Tom Gorman
Tom Gorman
I was basically shunted to MBO by a client of mine who was outsourcing invoicing and admin for its independent contractors. MBO, and especially my liaison, Ali, did an excellent job of onboarding me. MBO took care of setting me up as an LLC and directing me to the required liability insurance, and they do not mark up the costs of either. Ali was extremely professional and responsive (to phone calls, not just emails!!!) in walking me through the process. This outfit has its act together!
Ross Antonson
Ross Antonson
My experience was first-rate. Prompt, precise communications. My contact, Blake Herendeen, was very professional and kept me in the loop every step of the way. Thanks!
Tatiana Terdal
Tatiana Terdal
I enjoy doing business with MBO Partners representatives. They have been very professional and responsive in all my interactions, have always answered my questions and helped find solutions to different issues.