Big companies might hire a consulting firm like Deloitte, KPMG, PwC or EY to work on a specific project or get help validating a new operational strategy. But those consulting services are often out of reach for small-to-medium sized (SMB) businesses.
Some SMBs will turn to marketplaces like Fiverr to find consultants. But those can often be hit or miss, says Atlanta-based entrepreneur Robert Burke.
To help businesses get the consulting help they need, Burke has launched the fractional consulting SaaS platform Sobo.
Fractional consultants can be an important resource for SMBs, since they often don’t have a great grasp on the overall health of their business and certainly don’t have the money to afford domain experts. Businesses come to Sobo and are matched with an Engagement Manager to work through insights and competitive benchmarking. The platform integrates with a company’s cloud-based financial, HR, and CRM applications so that all important data is in one place.
Getting data to companies is central to Sobo’s overall mission.
“Whether it is your monthly financials, or your customer data stored in a CRM, it helps you see what’s happening with your business,” Burke told Hypepotamus. “At Sobo, we can only help you when we know what’s happening with your business – and the key is data. Our verified and trusted consultant network anonymously performs diagnostics and discoveries on your business data profile. The results of these discoveries are provided to you in the form of Insights. These insights give you a unique perspective on what you need to focus on.”
These diagnostics can help business owners understand how they stack up against comparable businesses, what metrics are driving revenue, or how healthy their sales pipeline is.
In its early stages, the Sobo team is focused on law, CPA, IT, Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and other professional services firms, though Burke said the platform works well with SMBs at any stage.
Sobo is betting that the future of work is flexible for both companies and the advisors they hire.
Adding a fractional consultant to the payroll is a way to grow without adding full-time employees to headcount.
It also brings a new level of flexibility for consultants looking to build their own practices. Consultants can work on projects that align with their areas of expertise and don’t have to worry about the administrative work associated with running a consulting firm on their own. Consultants on the platform take home 80% of the engagement fees.
Burke has been working on the idea for a “Deloitte for Small to Medium-Sized Businesses” since starting his IT consulting business in 2009.
“For years I struggled with this vision because it really didn’t make sense for so many reasons. That was very different time, for example platforms like Uber and Airbnb didn’t exist back then, and businesses weren’t comfortable sharing their data. Now, the vision I had way back then is achievable. I believe in the future most B2B consulting engagements will happen on some type of platform, and now is the right time to launch a consulting firm for the rest of us,” he said.
Now, the startup has a mix of ten full-time, part-time, and contract employees.
The local business community has taken note of the platform’s growth and mission. The Sobo team is well on its way to closing out a $1 million fundraising round with investors that are all local small business owners.
“They have an intuitive understanding of the issues we are trying to address,” added Burke.