Business consultant Pierre Tunger gives an insight into his work and talks about the sorts of challenges and opportunities entrepreneurs face.
Pierre Tunger – Passionate About Numbers
Zervant works with a whole host of successful entrepreneurs and this week we’d like to tell you about another of our successful customer stories. Pierre Tunger has managed to turn his passion for maths and numbers into a burgeoning career as a freelance business consultant on the start-up scene.
“Numbers have always been a part of my life. Whether it was as a child in maths competitions, or later on when studying business administration, everything always came very easily to me. And ever since then I’ve been helping others to get to grips with what can sometimes be a dull subject”.
Pierre works as a freelancer offering business advice, with a specialist focus on accounting and business administration. He also has a selection of informative guides and tools, as well as his blog. Head over to www.pierretunger.com (currently only in German) for more information.
So, can you tell us a little more about what you do?
“I work with sole traders and entrepreneurs, young and old, on all matters related to facts and figures in their business. We look at everything from sales forecasts, budgeting, profit expectations, cash flow to hourly rates, production costs and purchasing.”
“Preferably this is all done on Excel, so that the customer can then go through the figures by themselves. Meetings are often done face-to-face, but increasingly they’re done online. A quick web meeting allows you to work out an effective business plan.”
For more information on Pierre’s services click here (again, only in German):
What made you decide to become self-employed?
“I never really planned to be self-employed, things just turned out this way. I guess I was just in the right place at the right time, and things progressed from there. I gradually moved on from part-time to full-time.”
“I’ve never really looked back – I’m enjoying things too much!
“Now and again I think about changing jobs, and I did switch briefly last year. But four weeks into the job I realised how much I missed being an entrepreneur!”
What do your projects usually involve?
“Normally customers contact me because they have a specific project that want help with, or they need help calculating something. An initial, no-obligation consultation identifies what needs to be analysed and calculated, and whether this needs to be done in person or it can be done online. The customer provides all the relevant information, I process it, and then we then work together to make a list of all the potential outcomes. It can happen that a project gets cancelled if it doesn’t seem viable.
Once the initial phase is complete the customer receives all the calculations, models and plans. If the project goes ahead then the customer is billed and work can begin. Customers are able to apply for a grant in order to pay for the consultation. The majority of people that I work with are successful when applying for a grant.”
How does Zervant’s invoicing software help you with your daily tasks?
“Zervant helps me to create and send invoices. Previously, I had worked with other tools. But I was always using different tools from different vendors. Although they could be integrated, I found that rather annoying. Zervant has everything I need, all in one place. I think that’s great. ”
Do you work alone or in a team?
“Mostly I work alone, but I have a network of consultants that I use on a regular basis. On projects that need creative input, consultants come in handy. This means you can work together on a joint project – a client of mine referred to this as “thought ping-pong”. I think this is a good description.”
What are your biggest challenges as an entrepreneur?
“My biggest challenges are to stay focused, and to not get distracted or procrastinate. But I’m working on these areas and making progress. If I don’t I very easily fall back into my old habits.
“For me the independence to do things my own way is the greatest form of freedom.
I can decide what I want to work on, who with, and when. If I get the feeling that my work doesn’t quite “click”, then I can change things or even stop the project altogether. Working for someone else you can’t really do this.”
Are there any dangers in being self-employed?
“When I look around, I see people in the rat race, especially the self-employed. And even if you’re working for yourself, you’re still in the race. And you usually have to run more than everyone else.
This is especially true when things aren’t planned properly. I know business owners who work night and day, have the books full of orders, yet in the end hardly have any money to live on. Now and then it is very useful to look at the bigger picture.”
Do you think Germany is a good place for sole traders and small business owners?
“I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I believe that anyone who wants to do their own thing can, regardless of bureaucracy.
On the other hand I know people that started out with an idea and got off to a good start. Things slowly went wrong, they lost heart, and now they’re unemployed. This can have quite a bad impact in the long term.
There are good funding programmes for start-up companies, such as as ‘Start-Up Coaching Germany’, which was re-launched at the start of May. More information can be found here.”
What do you think is the most common mistake that most start-ups make?
“A lack of financial planning, which should be the basis for any financial decision.
“A comprehensive financial plan includes sales forecasting, cost planning, profit planning and liquidity planning. This could also cover investment and credit plans. It doesn’t have be too detailed, what counts is to consider all the relevant factors at least once.
The figures should be as objective as possible. People in general, but especially entrepreneurs, aren’t always that realistic. If you’re too pessimistic then the project may fail anyway. If you’re too optimistic then that can also come back to haunt you.
It’s hard to get the right balance. A second or even third pair of eyes is an advantage. By investing in a consultant early on you can save money in the long run.”
How important is the internet / social media for your work?
“I am present on all the main channels and use them to share my thoughts in various ways. It is a way to advertise and also to get feedback. But you can also get distracted quite quickly. I sometimes take a digital detox. On Facebook I currently have no friends, but I do have a lot of fans!
But for keeping up with the competition and staying informed on current trends I use it quite a lot.”
And now we’d like to know what your top tips for entrepreneurs are!
Stop talking, start doing. Running a business is like playing sports. You have to be out there amongst the action, and you’re always playing to win. But if you lose then you simply learn it and do it better next time. You learn nothing sitting on the sideline.
Set the bar high. Have a target, stayed focused and work towards it. But take time to pause, step back, and check that everything is going according to plan.
Two heads are better than one. Find someone to talk to, someone who can give you an honest opinion. A sparring partner, if you will. Family and friends are no good as they’re not really impartial. Seek out other entrepreneurs or talk to a consultant.
Think Big. If you start with 1,000 sardines, you can feed your family for a few days. If you start with a whale, then the whole village can live off it.
And of course: Plan ahead! Make financial plans, and run your business according to them. If numbers are not your strong point, then get someone in to help you.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
“Keep up the good work! And thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak on here and share my customer story. It’s great to work together 🙂 ”
Thanks for your interesting, honest insight into the working life of a business consultant. We wish you every success going forwards!
Image sources: Pierre Tunger & Ryan McGuire (http://gratisography.com/)