enomyc has reason to celebrate: what began as a two-man operation in an office with a view of the Elbe has developed over the past 20 years into one of the leading management consultancies for SMEs. Due to the company's expanding service portfolio, the team has expanded and enomyc now has seven locations at home and abroad. The new brand identity also makes it clear that a lot has changed. How did this beginning, now 20 years in the past, transpire? What did the founders learn in the following years, and what are they planning for the future? A conversation with Martin Hammer and Uwe Köstens about difficult beginnings, the power of mindset and sweeping out one's own doorway.
Mr. Hammer, this crisis seems to only be growing more permanent. Politically, things are burning on all fronts; Germany is once again considered the sick man of Europe; companies in this country are complaining about high costs, a lack of skilled workers and rampant bureaucracy. Would you start a business again under these conditions?
Absolutely! When we started in the early 2000s, the conditions were not exactly optimal either. The new market had just collapsed, a large part of the strategy consulting industry was called into question, smaller providers disappeared from the market, and the Big Four merged their consulting teams. Actually, nobody needed classic consultants at that time. But we saw this former crisis as an opportunity for a different kind of consulting, one that combined classic strategy consulting with operational excellence in implementation. Only together do both lead to success.
What is your "recipe" for dealing with this uncertainty?
Hammer: From our point of view, the most important thing is to question oneself again and again critically and check whether one is still properly positioned to obtain their pursued goal. That is tedious, but it is worth it. Our experience from approximately 1,300 projects demonstrates that; unfortunately, medium-sized companies in particular do not often take the time needed for this process, which we call re-dynamisation.
What exactly does re-dynamisation mean to you?
Köstens: Re-dynamisation means that you put your business model to the test fundamentally in order to make adjustments where necessary. For us, this process began when Martin Hammer and I were in our mid-50s. We asked ourselves how we could make the transformation that would take us to the next level of our development. At that time, we had about 15 very successful years behind us. With the renaming of K+H Business Partner to enomyc, we turned Raider into Twix, if you like, without even having needed to. At the time, many people asked us why we were doing this. For us, it was the right step. So in such situations, you also need the courage, determination and discipline to implement your plan.
Hammer: Back then, we completely repositioned ourselves despite already being in a successful, albeit somewhat sated and content state. That was a huge transformation process. Moreover, while taking part in the process, we realised that our own circumstance was exactly the same as the situation in which many medium-sized clients currently find themselves in.
How can you imagine this process, and what has specifically changed at enomyc over the course of the re-dynamisation?
Hammer: Almost everything. We have added new topics to our service portfolio. We have expanded and deepened our new employees‘ expertise in many areas, be it M&A, real estate, digitalisation and AI or in the area of ESG. We have become significantly younger and, fortunately, also significantly more female, and we see that this also brings many valuable impulses to our daily work. Through hiring Ralf Ehret, we have recently brought on board a proven debt advisory expert to round off our offerings for companies in crisis.
So we have clearly broadened our content, and we have grown. But we have also had to ask ourselves how we can continue to be and remain attractive to new colleagues in the labour market. This is where I believe our 2019 rebranding plays a central role, as it makes clear our claim to have our finger on the industry’s pulse. Not only in terms of content, but also in terms of visual perceptibility.
Why do you think the idea of re-dynamisation is so important for SMEs in particular?
Köstens: Because most SMEs, unlike large corporations, do not have strategy departments detached from day-to-day operations whose job it is to keep an eye on such precise issues while also driving change. Most SMEs are absorbed in day-to-day operations, not to mention the additional bureaucratic tasks imposed on them by the state. Depending on the type of ownership structure and management, the risk of reacting too late to market and competitive condition changes is very high.
The keyword re-dynamisation is also at the centre of your current campaign, which can be seen online and all over at large railway stations and airports. What message do you want to convey with it?
Hammer: We want to take up the cudgels for a new way of thinking in the SME sector. For companies to be willing to open themselves up to change and a new dynamic, especially against the backdrop of the current structural crisis. We believe that the key to a successful consulting company, just as for any company, is to take people along with you and, for example, to use the opportunities of digitalisation for a re-dynamisation. For this, they need young people, "digital natives", who approach things quite differently and thus open up many new doors. If there is one thing we have learned in our 1,300 or so projects over the past 20 years, it is that SMEs in particular n need a change of mindset. We want to support companies in this process - with our own experience and the profound know-how of our team.
But first, on 2 November 2023, we will celebrate 20 years of enomyc on the MS KOI, an event ship here in Hamburg harbour. How does that feel for both of you?
Köstens: Wonderful! I see the development of enomyc as a gift. Of course, an incredible amount of work has gone into it, but we have also been lucky. And we are both aware that without the people who have accompanied us and made this path possible, we would not be where we are today. That is to say, without our employees, both those long-standing and new, and without our trusted partners at our side, be they financiers, insolvency administrators or the many lawyers with whom we have worked over the years.
Hammer: Of course I am proud of what we have created. Grateful for the experience and trust of our customers and partners. But my gaze is primarily directed forwards. I am optimistic and at ease about the future, even if it will certainly bring more hurdles. We have left no stone unturned to create the best conditions for the way ahead. For me, this is my central message to not only our team, but also our partners and customers. We look forward to the next 20 years, together with you.
So it remains exciting. Mr Hammer, Mr Köstens - thank you very much for the interview!
We would like to take this opportunity to thank you, dear readers, dear business partners and, above all, our experts and colleagues for your trust, continued support and constant interest in our interviews, articles and podcasts. We at enomyc look forward to enriching you with many interesting contributions over the next 20 years.