#54: 100 Decisions to Bootstrap a Consulting Firm? Ex-Accenture Senior Consultant, Alex Goldenberg, on Deliberate Growth (Part 2)

Alex Goldenberg (@goldena76) is the founder and CEO of AG Consulting Partners, an established Northwest business management consulting agency based out of Seattle, WA.

After working at Accenture for 12 years developing expertise in marketing, sales, and business process outsourcing, he left to begin his own consulting practice in the hotbed of the 2009 recession.

Very quickly he was able to build a client base and bootstrap the firm, operating from his kitchen table for the first 6 months. Given it’s immediate success, he convinced his future co-founder, Michael Gringauz, to join him.

Over the course of 11 years they’ve “step grown” the firm from 2 people to over 60 full-time employees, operating 100% remotely until recent, leaning heavily into “the firm” consulting business model.

Michael holds a bachelors in international economics from Georgetown and an MBA from the University of Washington Foster school of business and holds advisory roles at the  UW center for sales and UW employer advisory board.

We dive deep into the growth of a consultancy and the hundreds of decisions Alex made along the whole: write a business plan? Product offering? Business model? Hiring contractors? Getting new clients? Hiring awesome, undiscovered talent? We get into all of it.

This episode is particularly valuable for anyone who’s considered starting a freelance business or consulting firm.

Famously a high margin business model, virtually anyone can start a consulting firm if they have a laptop, phone, and area of expertise that can provide value/meet an unmet need to a niche audience.

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Show Notes

  • Did you write a business plan? [0:43]
  • Why Alex prefers to be billable and how allows him to grow a bootstrapped (no debt) consulting firm [3:58]
  • Did you experiment with contractors first? [6:09]
  • Why you can’t build a culture with contractors [7:00]
  • How do you stay an expert in marketing and sales? [8:01]
  • What are blogs you read when you’re learning more marketing and sales? [9:24]
  • How you have a constant responsibility to your employees (by staying an expert in marketing and sales) [11:02]
  • How Amazon organically evolved over time (rather than predicting the future) [15:06]
  • Are you actively part of different organizations and groups? How do you build your network. [16:01]
  • How do you attract new clients? [17:31]
  • Selling service solutions is another way to generate revenue? [19:06]
  • AG has a unique way of business development and growth. What is that? [20:00]
  • How sharing the profit margin of new business really works [21:49]
  • How did you land on that shared profit margin decision? [23:05]
  • Ownership is a critical element, especially coming from a communist country when private property is inexistent [23:54]
  • How shared ownership lets someone feel like a partner in a consulting firm [25:14]
  • What is unpredictably challenging about growing a management consulting company? [25:58]
  • How does AG solve the challenge of people development? [27:19]
  • How AG has social events that build their culture [28:33]
  • What’s one piece of advice for someone who wants to build a consulting company? [30:37]
  • Some of the most successful CEOs have done every single job at the company [32:18]
  • Where can we find you? [32:54]
  • Do you have any asks of the audience? [33:30]

Links from Episode

What did you learn about business consulting from the episode? Comment below.

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