Written by Liz Holden
Peggy McHale describes herself and her business partner, Sandi Webster, as “lifelong learners.” So it is perhaps fitting that they have utilized all three of ICIC’s urban business initiatives along the path to growing their company, Consultants 2 Go (C2G). Through Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, they created a growth plan for their business. They twice participated in Inner City Capital Connections, where they honed their pitch to investors and peers. And in 2015, C2G was named to the Inner City 100 list of the fastest-growing urban businesses in the U.S.
Previously, both Webster and McHale had worked for a Fortune 500 company, and they had discussed their mutual dream of entrepreneurship. After their corporation was badly affected by the attacks of September 11, they made the decision to pursue this dream, and in 2002 they founded Consultants 2 Go, a marketing and analytics consulting firm that now works with major corporations from across the U.S.
“When the company started, (Sandi and I) were the ‘Consultants 2 Go,’” McHale said, adding that the peer learning that came from exposure to other companies was a major advantage of their work with clients. “What I love about consulting is that by being at different companies you get to see the best and worst practices,” and what strategies were working well, McHale said. Eventually they realized that in order to grow, they would have to extricate themselves from daily field work and focus on larger strategic decisions.
Participation in ICIC’s urban business initiatives helped them to continue the peer learning process. “I find (that ICIC’s urban business initiatives) utilize top professors and business owners to provide us with the education that we need to keep our business up to date. I’ve learned what not to do in my business, which is as important as what to do,” said Webster.
For C2G, their location also helps to foster connections with other businesses. In 2004 they moved their company to the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Enterprise Development Center, an incubator for technology and life sciences companies. Although McHale said that some peers were skeptical when they decided to locate in Newark’s inner city, both the company and the neighborhood have thrived – “Newark is going through a renaissance.” C2G has provided consulting services to other businesses in the incubator, and the university’s resources – from interfacing with other companies to hiring university interns and using its library – have been a benefit as they’ve grown.
Although C2G is deeply rooted in Newark, their consultants, who work remotely, are spread across the U.S. They have made a concentrated effort to establish a family-friendly workplace. “We both had kids when we started this business. One of the key driving forces when we started this business was having this control… We have been able to recruit an awesome team because we provide flexibility that you can’t find with most companies,” McHale said. Today, that team has grown to over 115 employees.
As C2G continues to grow, connections to other companies are still of utmost importance, helping its principals to understand and anticipate how new technologies and business trends will affect their customers’ needs. McHale noted that their clients are often facing tremendous pressure as outsourcing and other forces shape their industries. “We’re the valve to help eliminate some of that pressure,” she said.