Starting a business consultancy in a market dominated by big-league players is no easy task. “You need to compete with large established firms to get the kind of corporate work that pays well,” says Lindiwe Ngwenya, co-founder of nfactorial consulting. That’s no mean feat for a small and relatively unknown firm. The gaps lie in the less well-tapped upper-tier SME market. “SMEs have an enormous need for consulting services, and are incredibly receptive to learning and implementing new solutions,” Ngwenya adds. The only catch is that they are often unable to afford the kinds of fees consultants command.
Finding a niche
Creating thinking, business suss and passion for the SME sector has enabled Lindiwe and co-founder Sipho Ngwenya to devise a solution that has carved out a niche for their services. “We are really passionate about entrepreneurship and we find working with SMEs so rewarding. They really want to implement what you propose and a small degree of intervention can bring about a great deal of change in their business. For these reasons, we knew we wanted to be working with entrepreneurial companies. But we also knew that to do so, we’d need to get creative about how we package and price our services,” says Ngwenya.
Standing in SME shoes
The solution lay in making cost – the key driver for any small business – the starting point. “First we put measures in place to structure payment of projects over a longer period. This market doesn’t have the ability to pay huge lump sums so if you want to be successful in the sector, you need to bear that in mind,” Ngwenya adds. She and Sipho then researched where SMEs’ greatest needs lay, and set about creating packages specifically to meet those. “Consultants are often accused of taking a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to business, but you make a mistake if you think you can use what works for corporates, just tweak it a little and sell it to an SME. This market has very specific needs and our approach has been to tailor bespoke packages to meet those,” Ngwenya says. Those packages target common areas of entrepreneurial challenge, including governance, compliance, legislation and optimisation of processes and systems, with a particular focus on IT. “It’s a very gratifying space to work in because you can make a big difference and have a real impact,” Ngwenya concludes.
For more information, call +27 76 814 4633, or go to www.nfactorialconsulting.com