Inc. 5000 Applicant of the Week: Consultants 2 Go
BY Matt Rist
September 11th caused two friends and co-workers to rethink their careers and take the step to start a business.
Consultants 2 Go principals and founders Sandi Webster (pictured left) and Peggy McHale
As we process applications for the 2011 Inc. 500 | 5000, we thought it would be worthwhile to shine a spotlight on some of the companies that are vying to appear on our ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in the United States. One that caught our eye was Consultants 2 Go.
Sandi Webster was tired of teaching consultants how to do their job. As an American Express corporate employee, Webster said she wasted too much time and money on expensive consultants with little experience. So when 9/11 forced her company to relocate her position to New Jersey, she and a business partner created their own consulting firm named Consultants 2 Go.
The company is a network of experienced consultants around the country who can work part-time as needed and deliver results, something she said was difficult to come by in the corporate world.
"We couldn't find anyone from whom we could hire those kind of people," Webster said. "They were usually very junior people, straight out of business school."
But it wasn't until after 9/11 that she put her ideas into motion. Her office near the World Trade Center was rendered uninhabitable and she and her best friend and co-worker Peggy McHale were forced to work in different locations.
"We had a lot of friends pass away and it was just time to stop and think," Webster said. "Once 9/11 happened and we were both displaced, we said, it's now or never."
Consultants 2 Go serves mostly mid-size businesses but also Fortune 500 companies, including Webster's former employer, American Express.
"The biggest challenge is sales and getting in the door of a new client with whom we are not familiar, Webster said. "We realized that mid-size companies do not have a marketing department, so they tend to use consultants a lot more."
Since the company began in 2001 it has expanded to a network of more than 700 vetted consultants who work with clients all across the country. Yet managing consultants remotely can be a challenge for Webster and her business partner.
"You don't know every face anymore, as you grow as a company you lose some of that familiarity with the people," Webster said. "We try and organize things to get to know the new clients."
Webster said the flexibility of Consultants 2 Go also works in its favor—the company recently acquired an international client and is hoping to continue to expand internationally.
"We are a very virtual task force, which is another thing that we like about our business," Webster said. "In some cases, the consultant has to actually be on-site but a lot of our projects can be done online or virtually."
Another secret to Webster's success is her strong relationship with her co-founder and business partner, which she said was carefully crafted before creating the company.
"We have a very detailed operating agreement," Webster said. "We didn't leave anything to chance, it wasn't a hand-shake kind of deal."
While most businesswomen her age might not be willing to take a chance on a new company, Webster said it's never too late to follow through with a good idea.
"When you think there's nothing else to do with your life, something always crops up," Webster said. "There are all these worries out there, but if you take the time to think about what you really want to do with the rest of your life—you'll come out OK."
The company brought in just over $5 million in revenue last year and has no employees beyond the co-founders, Consultants 2 Go taps consultants who have their own business and utilizes outside resources for its human resource, sales, and compliance departments.