#53: AG Consulting Founder, Alex Goldenberg, on Escaping Communism and Blueprints to a Thriving Consulting Business (Part 1)

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

  • Rapid growth questions [4:11]
  • What’s the story about how your family came here from Ukraine? [6:53]
  • What year did you family leave Ukraine? [8:09]
  • What did your parents do? Were they entrepreneurs? [8:54]
  • How old were you in 1989 when you all left? [9:39]
  • What influence did the move have on your professionally? [9:54]
  • 3 categories of what AG Consulting Specializes in [12:24]
  • What is management consulting and does it differ from other categories of consulting? [12:40]
  • How did sales and marketing become more of a focus for AG? [15:27]
  • Did it feel naturally to go in the direction of sales and marketing? [16:51]
  • If you could draw the growth of your company, what shape would it take? [17:42]
  • Culture fit is important when you’re considering new consultants, huh? [20:26]
  • Do you have an “awesome, undiscovered talent” list? [21:48]
  • How keeping long, trusted relationships allows for unexpected future projects [23:42]
  • How doing 1 bad project can jeopardize a boutique consulting business [24:54]
  • The 3 different consulting business models [26:07]
  • What were the early days of AG Consulting? What were the grass roots? [27:14]
  • AG Consulting Partners stands for Alex Goldenberg? [31:40]
  • Why professional service businesses are often named after the founders [32:55]
  • The why behind the culture of a company takes on the personality of its founders [34:00]

Links from Episode

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

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