How Asiimwe is thriving in consultancy

Sheba Asiimwe is an experienced academic. She is also a budding consultant. Photos by Joan Salmon.

What you need to know:

  • According to Asiimwe, countless communities have sprung up on the Internet. She says currently, many consultants are competing with the Internet, adding that what clients used to pay for from consultants is readily available on the Internet.

For nine years, Sheba Asiimwe has been lecturing at Ndejje University and owing to her diligence. “As a lecturer of business courses -principles of management and strategic management), it is my duty to disseminate quality content. Before I go to teach, I do extensive research, I consult business owners, show up in lecture rooms and do my best,” she smiles.

“Beyond lecture room engagements, students started inviting me to visit their organisations to review performance. Many came to consult on the best business practises in order to improve their businesses.
After doing voluntary work for a long time and gaining experience in organisational development five years ago, Asiimwe decided to venture into consultancy work in order to boost her income. This is how Alcom Perfection was birthed in 2014.
Her desire to solve organisational challenges is the driving force behind building her consulting business.

“At Alcom Perfection, business strategy and organisational development our core mandate. We help business owners or leaders to design feasible business strategies,” Asiimwe narrates. Asiimwe says; Every organisation has an inherent desire to improve its workforce, systems and processes. Everyday, new businesses and organisations are registered. And, therefore, complacency has no place anymore in the business world. In trying to understand who you are, where you want to go, how you will get there and how you will measure success is key.”

How she started
“The start was not easy at all, but the beauty of consultancy is that you can work from anywhere because you are simply sharing knowledge. Other directors and I resolved to pool part of our salaries together to start our consultancy firm. To cater for administrative costs and smooth running of the firm, Shs13m was set aside,” Asiimwe recalls.

Asiimwe has learned to appreciate that each individual or company has its own unique culture and mission. “Before I begin a project with any client, I do extensive research to understand their personality or culture, which guides me on the relevant process, communication and behaviour to adopt for each client.

That involves sharing with the individual or company employees to gain a better understanding of their needs.”
In order to help them move forward in a positive way, Asiimwe also works on establishing relationships built on transparency and honesty.

Registration
Asiimwe and her partners have ensured that the business is not only registered with Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) and Uganda Registration Service Bureau (URSB), but also Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA), as well as Uganda Small Scale Industries Association (USSIA). She believes this is one way of widening business networks and will offer a competitive edge.

Marketing
Consultancy highly depends on feedback a client gives after getting services. As such, word of mouth plays a great role here. “If a client is satisfied with my services, he/she will market me. That’s why I aim at delivering the best. Besides that, networking, keynote addresses, presentation, email marketing, writing articles, and social media help in marketing our services.”

Through networking, Asiimwe has interacted with high profile people that she never thought of meeting. “Interacting with people who matter in the corporate world has taught me that education and skills are not all that matters. It has everything to do with attitude, self-esteem, and character, staying focused and choosing the right career.”

Out of these lessons, Asiimwe has birthed other projects such as Teenagers Doing Great Things (TDGT) - a project that prepares youth for a dynamic world and Toddlers Corner, a day care centre and nursery school.

Challenges
While Asiimwe gets to choose her working hours and which client to work with, all these come at a cost. “Being an independent consultant means hunting for clients in order to earn. This involves writing proposals and bidding processes, which are no mean feat.”

“It is not easy to start a consultancy firm. “You have to prove your worth even when you are looking for your first job. Gaining trust from clients without a client track record is one of the hardest things to achieve.”
Asiimwe adds: “Consulting projects are also somewhat complex. Considering the various stages a project undergoes, pricing consulting work and packaging it effectively is at times an uphill task.”

According to Asiimwe, countless communities have sprung up on the Internet. She says currently, many consultants are competing with the Internet, adding that what clients used to pay for from consultants is readily available on the Internet.

Future
The consultancy world is about learning in order to offer better services. She says: “Continuous learning is one of my unending goals. I am also planning to extend beyond business processes and technical skills into the world of behavioural skills. The culture will become more productive and in turn, more profitable.”

Advice
Asiimwe believes practical experience teaches you more than any book ever will. “I advise women to start and fail. Learn and start again. Purpose to start a business that you are passionate about. It is very hard to do business in an area that does not excite you,” Asiimwe cautions.

Asiimwe also believes that it is important to create value. “Until you understand how to create value, you will never have anything worthwhile to sell.”
If you want to venture into the consultancy world, do things the right way. Be systematic and strategic,” She adds. From the mentorship programme, Asiimwe has networked and shared information.

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