Setting Up A Small Consultancy in the Food Industry

ATS recently had a poser put to it by a client in terms of sourcing a consultant to assist them with producing a specific sauce. Our usual go-to response is by using our database of consultants whom we know are active in the field. This time round we decided to use a different route as an experiment based on a brainwave!

My brain lamp

Why not use our graduate Facebook page and see what pops up? Why not join if you have not done so yet…Food Science and Technology graduates of South Africa. So, this was placed as a request for service providers to the graduates, and yes, we received a few (not a torrent) offers of assistance. However, the position was quickly filled, which is not necessarily the point of this story!

The actual point is that there are unemployed graduates out there. The reasons for being unemployed are varied: looking for a job, changed career, looking after a baby, disillusioned with working for a boss, etc. What this points to is that, even though a few persons responded, there must be a bigger number out there that are unemployed.

In a recent conversation with an employee of a consulting company, it turns out they are very busy trying to satisfy the needs of industry. This means they have more than enough work to keep themselves busy. So, what about trying to satisfy this need in specific fields of the industry?? Why can unemployed graduates not pool their skills and act as consultants in the field??

OK, so don’t get me wrong here! The graduates I refer to would have to be well-skilled or experienced and would have to have an inner drive to excel as an individual and, more importantly, as part of a team. For those that would want to make a quick buck …. this will not work for you since a team (or new consulting consortium) would have to break into the industry, prove itself over time and then start using the uptick in clientele to make a reasonable living.

In addition, for those of you with less experience, you still have oodles more knowledge than the average start-up or nano-enterprise in terms of technical issues (not necessarily business experience). Why not direct your skills to this sector? They usually require very basic assistance, something which could be used to add to your experience and build your confidence. If you apply this concept to home industries (of which there are many) and spaza-type enterprises, you could sit with quite a bit of work to do.

If you (or your group) is not confident enough, you could use the Agrifood Technology Station as your partner in terms of supplying initial services. Add to this the fact they the Station often gets work which it is too busy to handle. The cherry on the cake is that, if you need to do technical work such as product or process development, you would have relatively easy access to all our facilities.

At this point: a word of caution. You cannot supply sub-standard services since this will ruin your reputation or you could inadvertently affect the health of consumers.

So, the challenge is out there: come to ATS to see if we can assist you in setting up an enterprise. We cannot assist with the business registration and other business development issues, but we certainly can advise you how to go about some things based on our own experience with small companies and also individual consulting expertise.

Please also note that there is much more to this than can be added to this blog i.e. there is a bigger picture which shows more challenges but …… Try us. You may like us!

Larry Dolley