Northwest Indiana is not only a great place to be a consultant but a place to partner with other consultants to deliver exceptional results to clients.
Andrea Proulx Buinicki, president of Valparaiso-based Giving Focus LLC, says there are more nonprofit organizations using consultants.
“It’s a great way to access specialized expertise for planning, hiring and training,” she says.
Buinicki says the recession caused nonprofits to think out of the box. Doing the same appeal, special event or campaign just wouldn’t cut it anymore.
“Those who changed their approach and mindset are starting to see the benefits now,” she says.
Giving Focus recently worked together with Crown Point-based Saqui Research to help a nonprofit refresh its mission and vision, write development and business plans, and develop measurable outcomes and tracking systems for its clients.
“The spirit of cooperation enables us to contribute to our client’s remarkable results, Buinicki says.
Buinicki says the true value of using a consultant lies in the lasting impact of the work, whether that’s a skills transfer to employees or volunteers, a solution that saves the organization money, a system to save time or a new focus that re energizes the team to build morale and get the job done.
“When you think about those returns, consultants are worth the investment,” she says.
Buinicki celebrated her third year in business in January.
“My clients are doing great work — hard work — and it’s a privilege to be a positive spark for growth,” she says. “I’m an activator and I love to motivate people to get focused on achieving a goal.”
Ursula Saqui, CEO of Saqui Research, believes for some businesses having a consultant is a flexible model they can use to supplement what they are currently doing in their organization.
“Instead of hiring a market researcher and having to pay a full-time salary and benefits, they’ll hire us instead because we can come in and we don’t require any training,” she says. “There might be a slight learning curve for us to get to know the content of their industry. But because we’ve worked across so many industries, it’s easy for us to get up to speed.”
Saqui says a businesses will bring in a consultant when it wants to grow, is in transition or needs a new strategy.
“The type of company that uses a consultant is one that’s very competitive and is really looking to grow and obtain more market share,” she says. “Those companies will put it in their budget because ... it makes them more resilient during down economic times. They want to have that competitive edge so when things go flat they're still agile enough to find those opportunities even if they’re a little scarcer.”
Al Turnbeaugh, of of Business Thinking Strategies, in DeMotte, has been a client of Saqui Research. A consultant himself, Turnbeaugh does business worldwide and “always want someone smarter than me on the job.”
“She has some expertise I don’t possess and it really gives me an affirmation that the project or people I’m working with are on the right track,” he says. “It gives me some actionable data I can give back to my clients and say this is what your audience is actually saying about this particular project or customer service or your product. It’s an objective third-party source.
“You can do your own survey but ... you want that extra set of eyes that don’t have an agenda to look at the data. They look at it objectively and that’s where it really becomes valuable.”
Saqui says hiring a consultant is a realistic and flexible alternative for businesses that need the expertise.
“The most important thing is for a business to look for a consultant that they feel comfortable with,” she says.