Life and hard work have led Carlos Alonso to become many things, among them: a writer, a lecturer, a business consultant and a professional coach. His specialty? To improve internal and external communication of companies with their work as a consultant, and advise and guide potential job reinventions of professionals from all sectors. If you’re thinking about starting a business or you have a business and want to improve their communication or think about changing your job, his books will help you start. If you’re based in Barcelona, you will discover in this interview you’re in a good place …
Tell us, what is your training and background and how you ended up in business consulting?
For more than twenty years I have been devoted to this exciting discipline. Having worked in a major multinational advertising company in 1998 I decided to create my own communications agency, CA Communicación. We offer a comprehensive service to SMEs so that they can optimize their budgets on this concept, without creating costly internal structures and helping them to focus on actions that create value and have attractive returns. Our work is actually to develop brands.
What advice would you give to an entrepreneur for the communication of their business has a “good start”? And to continue in the right direction ?
Companies today have two major problems in communication: the first is that their leaders do not always communicate well to their workers where they are going, how they want to achieve something and what they expect from each of them. They think they do, but the fact is that the statistics show otherwise.
Secondly, external communication fails because they can’t clearly explain what is useful to society and how they are especially good. They often offer more products and services than they can undertake, with bad slogans and false opportunities. And after this economic downturn that we have experienced is already clearer that you have to do what you do well.
But a strong brand is beginning in the development of a good corporate image, in the budget optimization and with good professionals, both internal and external. The mixture of these three variables makes brands are positioned in line with the capabilities of their products and resources. No more secrets. But to succeed we must pursue quality and listen to experts.
Besides of your job as a consultant, in your book you talk about reinventing oneself, especially at the professional level, have you considered the possibility of failure in this process?
Indeed, my other professional side is being a writer and a lecturer, activity that also fascinates me and that I started in 2008. In this sense, professional reinvention is one of my key themes. This is a mere adaptation to the reality we live in and the pursuit of a job that we like. In any company improving a process is important to have qualified and committed to the job workers. Without it, there is no method of management to succeed.
The failure has no place if we work on the same company’s direction. The other things that you can make to improve a company are strategical, but if you don’t have the right people, the management will never be optimal. In the case of a functional area such as communication, it can’t be otherwise .
Do you think the crisis has boosted the creation of new businesses? In your view, is it a “boom” that will eventually fall down at some point?
If you are an entrepreneur you don’t care about the crisis, is always a good time to undertake a new business. Those people trust on their projects and on their future, so there’s no bad time for them.
Also worth remembering that companies like CNN, Microsoft,… were created in times of crisis. What matters are our ideas and the people we hire to make them possible? When we are in a recession it is true that it is harder to find financing, but if you have a real project, it will also overcome that obstacle. My philosophy is summed up in: if we want, we can.
Is Barcelona a good city to start new companies and opt for professional changes?
Barcelona is one of the most attractive cities in the world to do business, everybody knows that. It has good communications, good geographical location and, above all, in Barcelona, there is a particularly strong corporate culture supported by more than two centuries.
Anyway, I think the “Barcelona brand” could have been better ‘sold’ abroad by their political representatives, they could have done much more. And that work is not opening more offices in buildings but creating and moving lobbies, doing presentations, giving resources to go to business fairs… There’s a lot to be done in this regard and I think more investors would invest in Barcelona in that case. In this sense, when I talk with Dutch, Italian or American businessmen, I realize that there’s a lot to be done.
Therefore, Barcelona is an ideal place to work and to expand.
What kind of people come to you and you usually advise?
From 1998 we have given advicse to all kinds of companies but we are very focused on SMEs. Our work and philosophy make them feel comfortable outsourcing their communication, in whole or in part. For our part, we do our best to see us as their own communications department and we try to generate the maximum incomes possible.
Is there a specific case of a company or business in which you know that you have had a deep influence (hopefully in many, of course) ?
Nobody rehires a service if they are unhappy with the previously received service. Thus, the high ratios of loyalty demonstrate the quality and commitment of our work. But to answer more specifically to your question, I remember how on more than one occasion we have suggested to a client to improve its product before we start working on their communication and that, after a while, they have come back to us to take care of their communication.
In my book, “The keys of companies communication” I also talk about several examples in which our service had excellent results.