This summer we will be launching COUNSL.
It is the output of a small team of people who between them have either provided professional services or purchased them for businesses, over many years.
In a marketplace where numerous surveys place the small business waste at up to £12bn annually on unnecessary or bad advice, it feels like there is a need for change.
This article intends to articulate why we created this company the problem we are solving and how we are bringing new features to the market.
"Small businesses find high quality Professional services"
A huge amount of money gets wasted in small businesses when they are seeking an advisor or buying services, I have seen it and done it myself.
One of the best validators for some of the businesses I have been involved in was external voices, perhaps too much at times, sometimes we even wanted to hire advisors to validate the validators as well. All of that took up a huge amount of time and money that could be better spent elsewhere.
When we were choosing professionals there was often a high cost to finding each one, both in finding them and then in meeting, validating and onboarding them. A lot of the time, however, we still got it wrong. We would still need to spend a billing cycle however to find that out. Once you have signed up the cost of switching out again is also always high. Sometimes we got what we needed from the purchase of 10/20% of the service, but we had to have the rest as well and there was less value from how it was packaged.
In the case of needing external validation, I get it right! If you are pushing on new ground, you rely on the expertise of those who have been there before to help you work it out.
There could be an innate challenge in taking some of these advisors on because they don’t want to tell you what they know straight away, It is an “asset” to be purchased. That makes sense and is likely hard earnt by them. You therefore only find out if it is useful to you later on once you have invested and it has been proven either way. If it isn’t helpful it is just an expensive opinion (Experienced opinion, but opinion nonetheless).
When you think of the time that takes, the toll on the wider team waiting for the input, and the stalemate environment it has the potential to cause in the way of not moving the business or initiative forwards. The advice that was supposed to validate the bold and decisive move is what may well kill it.
I come away from these experiences thinking to myself that the advice is only really helpful for your business if it turns out to be helpful. And to do that it has to be qualified, experienced, cost-effective (and by which I don’t mean cheap) and timely, That is why things need to change.
I was once told a story by an American lawyer who was living and working in London. One year in London he was asked by a VC to speak at a Christmas lunch. He went, happy to do it, as he stood up there were several cheers and a few voices that echoed words such as “Is he on the clock” and “How much are we paying him”.
He told me this overwhelmingly reflects the UK’s approach to its lawyers and he was always surprised by how different it is from the US.
We see these professionals as ‘On the clock’ costs rather than a more connected positive force to be made part of our business. The truth is the majority of opinions and advice I got from this man cost me absolutely nothing, as he recognised the value of a longer-term relationship.
I believe there is a lesson here for many professions to learn, and a way they could benefit from better and longer client engagements, should they follow it.
The platform I wanted to create doesn’t follow the model above fully, it is not about giving time or expertise away for free, but more about a controlled environment where people can speak, engage and support each other ahead of a more formal engagement. Transparent in cost and not overly confusing or painful to one side or the other.
We are now open for Launch invitations for Professionals and Specialists – If you are interested sign up here.
That makes us the middle man:
Having been a provider of professional services over the years in the form of technology consultancy, and the buyer of the full suite of services, as the COO of a high-growth business. I have seen the struggle in finding, understanding and constructing both problem statements and solutions. I have seen many failures to launch.
Businesses and Professionals are happy to spend money on results, different amounts for sure but none of them wants to short-change the right advisor. The way those services tend to be offered creates an environment of low value to the recipient and does not bring the happy long relationship the lawyer above achieved.
When we launch there are several features we will be looking to bring to the market straight away.
Question former – This is our proprietary tool for businesses to interact with before they spend any money on advice which will help to inform their “ask” or “question” more and will ensure a more relevant conversation.
Vetting – Professionals will join COUNSL through either an invitation or via a service that Vet’s them against their credentials to ensure we have a high quality of services represented at all times and do not flood Businesses with 100 choices for every search.
Projects – Although the platform encourages ‘conversation over contract’ when there is a need to do more we will provide an environment to procure services directly and where required ensure the right protections are provided to each user.
Connected Projects – curated collections of series bought together within the platform as a whole managed by Project management teams from end to end, replacing hub and spoke contractor projects.
COUNSL aims to level the playing field for everyone. Allow Businesses to find High quality, relevant and transparent advice at a mid-tier price point. Allowing professionals to achieve relevance and relationships like a personal recommendation without having to spend a huge amount on training and marketing or be forced to commoditise their offering.
COUNSL aims to see a professional services environment happier and healthier than ever before adding value to drive the UK economy together. We aim for every business to have access to thousands of minds working just for them.
We are now open for Launch invitations for Professionals and Specialists – If you are interested sign up here
- Small businesses find high quality Professional services -