CONSULT THIS

by Bozhidara Georgieva

New perspective, help, experience - every company can benefit from an outsider's view

Your business is fine, but you want something more. You are aware that you, your employees and the market have potential, but you just cannot pinpoint where exactly to channel your experience and energy...

The problems in your company follow one after another, while you are so buried in your immediate duties to think over what is going on, why does it happen and how to solve the situation...

There has been this idea making rounds in your head for a while, an idea with clear potential for development. It is innovative and the market is ripe for it. You, however, are at a loss at how to establish a company, how to run it and how to find funding...

The scenarios in which a business needs consultancy help are many and various. You can easily conclude that there is hardly a company or a manager that hasn't needed a consultant at a certain point of their development and career. This is true for all fields of the economy – IT and finance, manufacture and transportation, education and healthcare, media and trade, agriculture. Consultancy and outsourced services can be applied in a significant part of a company's activities – funding, processes' organisation, management, human resources management, accountancy, wage and benefits management.

Indeed, a sensible business can benefit from outside help even before... it becomes a proper company.

Businesses making their first steps on the market and ideas that are still between planning and realisation can benefit significantly from the help of the so-called business angels. "Business angels are entrepreneurs willing to help young starting businesses and entrepreneurs," explains Nikolay Yarmov, co-founder and board member of CEO Angels Club, Bulgaria's first organisation of the kind (www.ceoclub.bg). He has over 20 years of experience in the field of development and finance in the managing sector, and is the Executive Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Executive Development CEED Bulgaria (www.ceed-bulgaria.org).

"Business angels support innovative business ideas with potential during the start-up stage of their development. They invest their own money in the selected company in exchange for a share of the business," explains Nikolay Yarmov. "In our club we aim to leave a company we are helping within 24 months. It is indeed a short period, but it mobilises both us and the company to expand the business more effectively aiming at the best return for both parties." Business angels' investments are smaller than ones offered by risk investment funds. The business angel, however, remains strongly engaged in the development of the company he has supported. "Even after the business angel returns his initial investment and leaves the company, he remains in close contact with it. A young business needs not only money, but also advice, experience, contacts. Business angels help with all of these," says Nikolay Yarmov. Application for support by CEO Angels Club is via the start-up platform www.gust.com. The call is open all the year round.

Consultants can help an established business in several main areas.

"The challenges a business experiences are mostly linked to the effective management of resources: human, financial, material and the achievement of sustainable development," says Denitsa Ilcheva from GrowBeoynd.bg consultancy company (phone: 0887 544 026, office@growbeyond.bgwww.growbeyond.bg). "Our role as consultants is not to provide recipes, but to help the management to use the full potential and competitive advantages of their companies, and to develop them. To see opportunities where competition sees difficulties, and to use them," adds Denitsa Ilcheva.

The consultants provide an outsider's view to the problem or problems of the company. It might sound easy, but it is far from it. When a team or a manager are too much "inside" a situation, they can overlook the solution that will be obvious for an outsider. Consultants are even more valuable because they can freely point to often drastic solutions as the best way out of the situation.

Consultants also provide additional intellectual and expert potential in companies where the mangers are too busy with their immediate tasks. With hiring a consultant, the company reduces the burden from the managers using them where they are more effective – in dealing with their immediate corporate job.

Modern companies can gain a lot from outsourced management of human resources.

"In the current dynamic environment it is increasingly important to pay attention to a company's main business processes," explains Lilyana Panayotova, owner and senior HR consultant at the Green Path consultancy company (Sofia, 23 Sitnyakovo Blvd, floor 6, office 600, www.greenpath.bg). "Often managers waste their time and energy for solving problems they do not feel prepared enough to deal with. When we started Green Path, we set a goal to work hand in hand with the clients who trusted us. We want to help them in coping more easily with the challenges posed by the labour market, the labour and social security legislation, the constantly changing and competitive environment in which their firms operate. Stepping on our present experience we can single out two major strategic gains from outsourced services in human resources management. One is acquirement of knowledge that one doesn't need to build and maintain within the company. The other is that resources and focus are freed to be used for the firm's main business and not spent on supporting activities," says Lilyana Panayotova.

This comes as an addition to the fact that consultants are excellent specialists in a particular field. For many companies this is actually the main reason to seek for outside help in solving a problem. They need an expert with enough experience to help.

A company can hire a consultant also in the cases when hard decisions should be made and implemented, affecting employees, clients, markets. The outsider who is free from the relations within the company teams can do the job a lot more effectively and painlessly for both the employees and the company.

How to choose the best consultant for our case?

The first answer to pop in mind is to call a big, established company. Before undertaking such step, however, look for smaller, specialised consultancy companies. Their advantage is that they are narrowly profiled in particular fields, and due to their small size are more flexible in the solutions they offer. They are also good when you need a specialist with a very specific set of knowledge and expertise.

 

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