Entrepreneur takes specialized route

Newsroom 02/11/2009 | 15:20

Iulian Patrascanu is an entreprenuerially-minded professional who decided to set up his own business instead of being an employee. In 2007 he left the associate law firm of Ernst & Young, where he held a senior manager position. He also declined to work as a legal manager at one of the multinationals active in Romania at that time, although he was close to signing a work contract. But he gave up all of that to take a big step forward: becoming his own boss. Although he admits that he never dreamed of running his own law firm, Patrascanu decided to set up just such a business: Fine Law – Patrascanu and Associates. The firm is specialized in legal and financial consulting services such as employment, mergers & acquisitions, all forms of liquidation, due diligence, regulatory and compliance law, plus intellectual property for microfirms and medium-sized Romanian enterprises. But its portfolio also includes multinationals active in the soft drink segment, business-process outsourcing companies and investment funds. Fine Law is also a member of the Law Firm Network, an international network that includes the legal firms of the Magic Circle. “2007 was the beginning of my entrepreneurial experience. Although I was very close to becoming the legal manager of a multinational, I decided to start a business, as the result of a proposal from one of the large customers of Ernst & Young I worked for. He asked me to help him in a significant project,” remembers Patrascanu. After mulling the two proposals over, he decided that entrepreneurship was just a matter of hard work and tenacity and it was worth taking a chance. The entrepreneur adds that both his self-esteem and an objective evaluation of his experience combined with the favourable context and being the ideal age persuaded him to take the plunge. Patrascanu faced some teething troubles, as many entrepreneurs do. Despite this, his motto was to set up a business in the most responsible way. “I can't blame the craziness of the beginning, because I truly believe that entrepreneurship is a question of responsibility, both to your customers and your team,” says the managing partner. He adds that his first months as entrepreneur were very difficult, as he bore the burden by himself. “I had to do everything for the business to make sure it worked out well.” But one of the key factors in his success was to pay attention to his customers' feedback on the company's services. Although professional expertise is one of the most important aspects in setting up a business, it doesn't guarantee success. “You can communicate better if you are helped by marketing tools. But it is all about years of experience and managed projects, in the end,” says Patrascanu. In his opinion, one of the things that give a consultancy business the edge is the unique selling point that distinguishes the firm from other consultants. “I am a committed supporter of customized services. The high quality of work and services, added value and customized services are the main ingredients of a successful consultancy business,” says the lawyer. He says that consultants are selling services whose added value is visible on the medium and long term. Entrepreneurship is a unique experience that teaches many business lessons. As Patrascanu says, he learned to explain to his customers exactly where their business would be at the end of the consultancy project. “You can lose a customer if you don't show them what you have achieved in a simple and objective manner.” When it comes to the importance of personal branding for a business consultant, Patrascanu says that it counts for 100 percent at the beginning. “When you start a business the brand means professionalism, seriousness and awareness of your potential customers,” adds the entrepreneur. In terms of strategy, Patrascanu doesn't intend to grow the turnover in the first stage of development. He sees potential rather than a tough time in the current economic turbulence. “The crisis is a big opportunity for us because there is no segmentation on the legal services market in small, medium and large law firms. The quality of consulting services and the flexibility of fees are primary now,” says Patrascanu. According to the lawyer, the quality of its services combined with the value of its fees are the main competitive advantages that Fine Law has over larger law firms. “These firms have grown a great deal in a short time so they have needed to recruit many weaker consultants. Besides, they have high operational costs so they can't afford to charge low fees at present,” says Patrascanu. He adds that both SMEs and Romanian and multinational companies could not afford to pay higher fees to their consultants this year. And the situation will stay the same in the months to come. “In such a context, middle-sized players, with a higher level of expertise, will also be able to target customers such as investment funds or multinational companies.” As for the future, Patrascanu intends to keep his firm as a specialized business, despite the current trend of law firms offering complete and general services.

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