Unlike the big companies, small businesses cannot approach different service providers for different requirements. Thus, we decided to consolidate the services based on the following logic- For any business it is important to understand its target customers, so we provide an industry/market research service. Now, once there is clarity on the market, there is a need to understand the feasibility of the project to cater to the identified customers, so we provide an investment research service. Now, after identifying the project feasibility, there will be a need to execute the project for which funds will be needed. This could be short term or long term and debt based or equity-based- One size fits all approach will not work, thus we provide assistance to businesses in raising funds. Let’s say everything is there in a business- it is making revenue and generating profits, but is it managing its treasure in the best possible manner? Our treasury advisory service can come in handy.
What inspired you to go for this area of business?
I was working with a global leader in financial consulting when I observed that the majority of the clientele of consulting firms are mid to large size companies. This is not because the small businesses (SMEs and Startups) do not require consulting services but it is because of two main reasons- First, they operate as traditional family businesses and are characterized by high resistance to change. Second, the financial constraints make it difficult for them to approach leading consulting services. After identifying these needs, we established Plutus Business Advisory and brought together a team which has all the competencies of a leading consultancy and can work while keeping in mind the financial constraints of the small businesses.
What are the challenges you faced and how you overcame them?
It is a common perception that taking advisory suits big businesses only, not mid to small size businesses. This thought was the first challenge which we faced. I would like to state that irrespective of the size, one fact should be always kept in mind that the cost of taking a wrong or no decision is very high and has a long-term impact. For advisors, the main form of marketing is doing a good work and then be recommended. This is what we did- We talked to people to whom the entrepreneurs listen to- Chartered Accountants. Our services were complementary to the services they offered, so it became a win-win for everyone.
In the past few years, the business ecosystem (especially for startups) has developed with a lot of entrepreneurship communities and a lot of start-up events. These communities and events are characterized by long promises and fancy talks. However, much of that is noise with very less real work. These ‘enablers’ and ‘mentors’ are making us feel like that we cannot succeed without them when they are not adding any real value. Marketing is a necessity, but at least developing a quality product or service is must to succeed- You cannot compete with a poor quality product despite all the hype and marketing. This was the second challenge for us – to address the root problem.
A former boss of mine used to say- do not look at just putting the Band-Aid, look at the cause of the injury. So, we focus on solving the problem from roots where we work on filling the gaps- help in developing the product, developing the team, creating and testing the market so that the businesses can become investment ready.
Share with us the achievement of your company in the industry so far?
In consulting business, you deal with multiple clients, who have multiple requirements- some look to raise funds, some look to invest funds, some look to improve a process while some look to set up a new process. For us to be able to address their problems is the achievement for us. If we are to quantify our achievement then it would like to state that we have a 100% client retention rate- client coming up with new requirements and us addressing them.
What are all your future plans for your business?
As I said, we work at the root level- We have worked with few companies over the past few years and have made them ready for IPO which should happen in near future.
In addition, we want to work with SMEs as it will be correct to say that the SMEs are the ‘growth engine’ of our economy. We recommend the SMEs to adopt a new approach and look at different avenues for funding to capitalize the numerous available opportunities to fuel their growth.
In the crowd of different businesses, how you differentiate your business?
Our differentiation factor is our high recommendation rate- not google recommendations or social media recommendations (these recommendations matter in a B2C business) but recommendations that matter! These recommendations by our professional network ensure that once somebody has worked with us, he will appreciate our work and will continue to work with us.
Another differentiation which we have is that we look at what is good for the client and not what keeps the client happy. I will give you an example- I know organizations who will give absurd valuation just to make the client happy, but they are not concerned about the fact that will the client be able to raise funds at that valuation or not? If not, what good is that valuation?
Do you feel you have achieved what you dream of?
Not at all, it is a long way to go. For us it is about creating a sustainable ‘business environment’- I will give you an example- Funding is supposed to be a catalyst for growth, not the end result. I have seen many startups going on a hiring spree as soon as they are funded. Then they run out of funds and shut down. The actual victim of this mess are the employees who join these startups. Thus, we want to promote sustainability where all the stakeholders grow.
What are all the improvement you suggest in the area of business you are in?
There is only one improvement which I suggest- professionals, as well as entrepreneurs, need to be able to look beyond the ‘noise’ which is applicable in all spheres of life.
Any piece of advice for budding entrepreneurs?
‘Entrepreneurs’ need to understand the difference between a specialist and being a CEO/Director. As former you only need to look at the product, while as the latter you need to find a way to make money from that product.
In addition, the business model should be developed to be self-sustainable or ‘bootstrapped’- there needs to be a profit which you can take home and/or reinvest in the business. Once a business model is ‘self-sustainable’ it is easier to raise funds, as funds will act as the catalyst and not as the end-goal- exactly the way it is supposed to be.