Consultant's registry - an opportunity for a free lunch - National Association for Business Economics' Registry
For those of who regularly check NABE's web site, this is old news, but for everyone else you need to know that NABE has an offer priced right for you. NABE is waiving the annual set-up fee for including your company in the NABE's Registry until June 2000. As closely as I can estimate, NABE has about 300 members who are consultants. If we want NABE to support the Registry, we all need to get our fifty-word marketing message submitted as soon as possible.
At last check, NABE had about 30 companies registered. While this initiative is still in the early stages - not yet a year old - NABE is committed to developing this member service by providing links to the major search engines, which should allow more efficient and fruitful searching by companies or organizations looking for business consultants.
Over time with more registrations and with input from the consulting members of NABE, I think the association can provide a value-added service to both buyers and sellers. I know that as a small business owner I am increasingly turning to the Web to find software, data, and business services. While no one knows for sure how much is sold over the Web, surveys seem to indicate very rapid growth in business to-business sales. For small firms, the Web helps to reduce or even eliminate some disadvantages of small scale.
In our firm, we have had good results; my partner no longer laughs at me when I start a search with the Web. Data and topical researches are pretty standard uses of the Web, but looking for and finding other business services that we need on an ad-hoc basis to complete a project is a newer use for us. I have found specialized software from a small firm located on the other side of the country that I probably wouldn't have found otherwise and at a price that fit within the client's budget. In other instances where I thought the client had an impossible budget constraint, I was able to find data at rates well below those charged by the big data houses. We also have needed to find specialized firms offering recruiting and focus group facilities. Not long ago I would not have been able to help them out, because the cost of the time spent trying to find alternatives would have been prohibitive.
Time is what we are selling, and anything that enhances the use of necessary time spent in selling and marketing is worthwhile. Whether your company is new or twenty years old, there is never enough time for everything. In the January 1999 issue of Business Economics, NABE President Joel Prakken, Chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers, who has been consulting since 1982, authored a column for "The Business Economist at Work." He described a seventy-hour work week, explaining that "in a shop our size, the complete divorce of business management and economic analysis is just not possible," and "product development must be done late in the day or over weekends."
Last year, when I proposed the idea of a Consultants' Registry to NABE I thought it was a good idea. Now, we know the registry has the potential of providing NABE consulting members with an additional distribution channel. It is now important to build critical mass of registered members in order that the site becomes a destination for businesses looking for the diversity of consulting services that members offer.
Finally I would like to remind all consultants to have a free lunch on NABE and submit your fifty words. Additionally, please get on to NABE.com, view the Registry, think about additional enhancements to the site, and forward your suggestions to me so that these ideas can be used as input to future development.
Consultants' Column is One Year Old - Now What?
In our company, we usually take stock of what has occurred inside the business at least on an annual basis. Among other things, we assess what we did, what we wanted to do and what we want to do differently in the future. At the beginning, there was just an idea that there was a segment of NABE members with similar interests that were not addressed through the traditional services of NABE - not a lot to go on.
With a year under my belt as editor for the column, I have been pleasantly surprised that people have read the columns, taken the time to respond to some initial ideas, and responded with suggestions for topics. I have also been impressed by the willingness of members to volunteer and contribute when asked. If the column started and stopped with my thoughts, I would be finished now.
I'm still not sure what the answer is, but I have received enough feedback to know that there is some demand out there in the membership for a forum to address matters of interest to consultants working in diverse fields but always having a link to economics in their business applications. I need more feedback from consultants and interested parties on the scope of your interests and any ideas you may have that would help NABE better serve this segment.
Usually about the time that Business Economics hits the mail. I start to wonder if anybody will read the column and, more importantly, take the time to respond before the next column is due. One of our earliest respondents to the initial column was our guest columnist last month, Jennifer Polhemus. In talking to her about the column on litigation and public policy, I learned a lot about how significant forensic economics was as a market for economists considering what services they can offer as a consultant.
This month we are fortunate to have a followup to Jennifer's article from James Hurdle (listed on the Registry I might add). Jim further explores what it takes to give expert testimony. Letting the column follow what is topical and seeing where that takes us have been two of my goals from the start. While forensic economics isn't an area we all work in, a lot of us come into contact with it indirectly through questions from the legal departments of companies or trade associations representing members. If you also believe this type of exchange is useful, please send me an e-mail at McCoy.Scott.Co@IBM.net. I am also looking for other suggestions or ideas that you would like to see brought forward.
Carolyn Scott is a partner of McCoy, Scott & Co., Chicago, and the Editor of this column.