DGN Consulting - Years of experience in supporting local businesses

ალექსეი სეროვი

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In recent years, Georgia has seen the rapid development of its business ecosystem and an increase in the number of companies operating in the country. Alongside this, demand has soared for consulting services that offer financial, accounting, tax, and legal advice, as problems and solutions seen and offered by external observers can be a method for success. Even though international companies operating in Georgia outsource part of their administration processes elsewhere to avoid unnecessary obstacles, Georgian companies are being forced to do so. A few of the reasons for this are a lack of resources and a shortage of qualified staff.

DGN Consulting has been on the market for years providing consulting services to local businesses. In March 2022, a Georgian team of experienced professionals joined the company and set the ambitious goal to revamp the company's service offering and extend its services to Georgian and international players on the market. To better understand the vision and objectives of the company, Entrepreneur sat down with Grigol Sidamonidze, a partner in the company with over 15 years of experience in the legal sector.

Grigol's career path started at BDO Legal. He shared with us that he was always interested in the public services sector. After a successful five-year tenure at BDO, Grigol joined the Airports Union, where he managed the legal department of the Tbilisi Airport rehabilitation project. Then came was a one-year term with GWP, freshly acquired by Georgian Capital and undergoing significant restructuring at the time. Grigol soon started collaborating with the company PKF, and, during his free time, he was involved in educational activities and teaching law. Grigol tells us how he soon proposed that PKF enhance its legal, tax, and accounting departments, a project that he led for three years.

Last March, Grigol Sidamonidze and his team decided to leave PKF and start operating independently. "For a number of reasons, we decided to go our separate ways and continue doing what we wanted to do. Today, under the umbrella of DGN, we support small companies ready to change, develop, learn, and achieve business autonomy and independence from the founder, which is currently proving to be a challenge. We are one of those companies that will always go all the way to give clients comprehensive answers to all its 'whys.' It is a necessary prerequisite for progress," Grigol notes.

Could you share with our readers what type of businesses DGN collaborates with? Who is your target market?

Our consulting business has specific ways of choosing clients and companies to work with. Often, we are approached by people who have either read about our successful projects or have been recommended DGN services by our existing or former clients.

What we look for in potential clients are the right approaches and goals of their companies. Individuals and businesses that are genuinely focused on growth, learning, and development are the ones who end up working with us.

There are instances when founders of companies do not seek initiative from employees and accountants, and like to follow already established processes. They don't ask questions and don't look for answers either. For them, accounting is solely a tool to measure the company's performance, not a tool for advancement. If the company has ineffective communication habits among employees and is merely looking for an accountant or a lawyer, we try to refrain from doing business with them.

On the other hand, we have come across clients who are relatively new to running a business, are young, inexperienced in specific fields, or who have specialized experiences but are oriented on broadening their knowledge to help their company succeed. Those clients are the ones we love to take on board, and we are happy to adjust to their needs. We give our clients more than just accounting, tax, or legal assistance; what we are really passing on is our knowledge and expertise to facilitate growth across all business units, implementing the latest technologies, such as "cloud" services, and securing information exchange systems, to name a few. The above, we believe, is what makes dealing with us even more attractive.

We see that our Georgian clients are trying to change something in their daily lives and improve things around them. This may be so for several reasons. People generally hire and pay others to solve their problems, but never question how they actually do it. Obviously, this rarely happens in business, but if something is complicated enough, the company needs an external person to evaluate the situation from a different perspective. In such cases, clients come to us and ask for advice, and, based on existing best practices, we look for the essence of the problem and offer them solutions.

Consulting services are inexpensive compared to the benefits they provide businesses. At DGN, we calculate our fees based on the time spent on a project. If, for instance, our engagement is not required to the degree we previously agreed upon, we review the time and the fee with the client. The same goes when extra work is needed. We believe transparent communication is vital to building trust with clients and on the market.

Tell us more about your ongoing projects. How does DGN support the development of partner companies?

There are several exciting projects our team is currently working on. One of these projects involves developing a suitable business model for a group of cryptocurrency traders. The team is facing a few problems, one of those being a strained relationship with financial institutions and banks, mostly due to their not speaking the same language. Being professionals in their field, they still sometimes need help to provide the required information to the banks, which can otherwise lead to the closure of accounts and other communication barriers. Institutional frameworks need to be created for this field as well as the implementation of accounting standards and reporting guidelines to simplify relations with the banks.

Another project we're working on is also related to crypto assets. We get to liaise with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in relation to the Georgian NFT-project, to clarify and assist the communication with regulatory bodies. We've also learned one or two essential things along the way.

Besides that, we are managing two projects in the film industry. One is supporting a Georgian film company in selling and distributing films abroad, as well as dealing with the legal side of those transactions; the other is a new film in which we are actively involved and provide financial management to the company.

DGN has been assisting the snail processing plant in Georgia to form its business processes since its foundation, and we continue to cooperate to this day. This project has been interesting to follow because it is unprecedented for Georgian companies to directly distribute meat products to EU countries. We provide financial and legal support to the company for this project and help deal with banks and investors.

Our work style and approach to business are different from how standard consulting companies operate. This is one of the main reasons why we decided to become independent and pursue what we feel passionate about – discovering and supporting motivated and enthusiastic individuals and exciting business ventures. We help start-ups fundraise and implement their ideas to make feasible businesses. Sometimes, it means working free of charge, but we find it exciting to share our vision and help new entrepreneurs realize their potential. Personally, for me, it is challenging, and who knows, one day, I may consider becoming an investor myself to help them succeed.

We deem this approach as valuable to individuals, the Georgian business ecosystem, and the greater community. Regardless of our environment, it always matters what we do with it and how we help others. It may happen that a particular start-up is not relevant today, but tomorrow they might find the perfect company to fit their business model. We're glad that our team shares this team spirit and these values.

DGN's mission is to develop and grow together with the Georgian market and offer something that will be exciting for everyone. We're not interested in selling "dry" services; we aspire to establish a new standard for consulting services in Georgia.

Tell us more about the DGN team. What are the company's values and recruitment policies?

Currently, there are five of us at DGN working on all the above projects. The demand for our services on the market has been growing, and so will our team. We follow two simple criteria when looking for the right candidate: We hire people we know and trust. Their experience and professionalism should add value. A person who does not share our values would not be a good fit for the company. The second criteria is youth, maybe even fresh graduates, with the relevant knowledge and the right attitude. In this case, the experience will matter less than the ability to speak the same business language and conduct a reasonable conversation.

In the future, we want to build a team with a high degree of independence; a team that is unafraid to try and fail. We are here to make mistakes, learn from them, ask questions and try again. We aspire to become good friends with our clients and understand what their businesses are about. We're not looking for an accountant that is great but is not familiar with the basic concepts of running a business, or one who can't see their role within the company; we prefer to hire someone who can be taught, or someone we know already. Therefore, there are only five of us at this stage, and, regardless of how big our team grows, our main principles and values will remain the same.

Based on your experience, what advice would you give entrepreneurs who are just starting out?

First, I would advise everyone to disregard all the stereotypes that exist around their idea or plan. Focus on having proper legal structure and financial management in place. The company's finances should be compliant, transparent, and accessible to all its shareholders.

Never give up when faced with obstacles. Nowadays, Georgia has excellent conditions for businesses to flourish, and with so many talented and smart people, we could all live in a much better country than we currently live in. For some reason, we Georgians lack the courage when starting out, but it things get easier once we start believing in our own abilities.

Entrepreneurs - as soon as you get an idea, write it down, show it to your family and friends, and discuss it with the people around you, so you can get that valuable feedback. No need to be afraid that someone might steal your idea; the idea itself does not hold value unless people with relevant experience and expertise are backing it up.

At the moment, everyone is looking for a good manager on the market – someone who is productive and eager to learn and grow professionally. People are valuable assets and thus worth investing in. We have such individuals around us, but they lack courage to start a business.

I would also stress the importance of getting professional advice from relevant fields. Spend time looking for a good consultant you can trust; one with whom you feel comfortable. You should not be shy to ask questions; unanswered questions will lead back to stereotypical thinking and will only hinder your decision-making.

What are DGN's plans for 2023?

2023 will be a year of transformation for DGN. Our partnership is set to grow, and we are in the process of negotiating a deal with leading compliance professionals. Our focus will also increase on recruiting and training young people to join our ranks.

Last year, we started off the ground, but we plan to move into full swing this year. A lot of work and time have been put into developing the products and services so essential to businesses in the consulting industry. Many control mechanisms are required to run a business smoothly. The confidentiality clauses are to be respected, and relevant tools have to be implemented to ensure the protection of personal and sensitive information.

We want to position ourselves as a technologically advanced company. Of course, with the help of our partners, DGN plans to launch cloud systems and the latest software updates to improve communication channels across the board.

Also in 2023, DGN will move into a brand-new office space designed with people in mind. We want our customers to feel welcomed and comfortable as soon as they enter our premises. A smile on their faces is what we're looking for – that's how we'll know we have achieved our goal.

არჩილ გელაშვილი

Entrepreneur Staff

ჟურნალისტი, Entrepreneur Georgia

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