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We speak to XpertiseNow Strategic Advisor, Chris Wilson, about the struggles of running a specialist consultancy and how XpertiseNow can make that easier.
Q: What are the day-to day problems small consultancies have in maintaining a pipeline of work?
A: In big firms there is lots of other people around who are bringing in opportunities. So, there is always a pipeline of opportunities to work against. That access to a pipeline of opportunities is totally taken for granted. If you are a sole trader consultancy or a small business, say you have got less than 10 people working for you, most of your time has been on the work at hand. Thinking about what the next project is going to be a challenge. Getting a pipeline that you are actively managing is a challenge because that takes time.
Then you need to find projects, you need to tap your network, go through your relationships, find out what projects are out there, talk to other people in the business that might have adjacencies that you can work on. Having a constant pipeline of opportunities is hard to build from scratch and hard to maintain when all your workforce is busy doing work.
Q: How does a technology platform help to start to solve some of that problem?
A: That’s XpertiseNow’s raison d’etre, its reason for being, is to allow you to create a virtual, network of people around you, so you can still run your own business. And there are other people like you, also out there working for the banks, working for the government departments, whoever it might be. And that creates that virtual network that you get at a larger firm. So, the idea of being able to collaborate online, find out if anyone is doing work for bank X or telco Y, and they can open their relationships for your opportunity set, and vice versa. Part of the platform is to create that virtual version of where you have come from so that there are always warm opportunities, warm clients to talk to, people to collaborate with, to share your ideas with. You might take them into other meetings with other executives, and before you know it, there is another pipeline of work there that you can start working through.
Q: The other side of the coin is when people leave big consultancies, there is a whole lot of administrative work that they have done for them. How can this problem be solved?
A: It is everything from the ground up. Such as no timesheets, tracking your time, making sure that you are compliant with the project that you are doing, making sure that the billable hours equal what you are contracted to do and what you have contracted with your employees.
This process of invoicing at a larger firm is taken care of for you by automated systems or by other members of your broader team, which might look after the billing might look after the finance.
Also, unfortunately, we live in a world where, large customers and their suppliers have an interesting relationship when it comes to paying. And so, at some stage you need to collect, which is always an open conversation with a buyer, you need to ring them up and ask them to pay the bills and if you have got one, or two, or three that takes time, and then you might need to chase again. You do not want to ruin your client relationships in your networks by chasing them to the invoices that have not been paid yet.
Therefore, every hour that you are not doing client work is an hour that you are spending on your own business, which is a cost. XpertiseNow is building a platform that can take your administrative headaches away and focus on your clients.