We received this last week, unsolicited, from a client who had just finished up a New Business Audit with us. Not only is his relief palpable, but it occurred to me that his thought process probably isn't all that unique:
"It’s just cathartic for me to think about a day when our business doesn’t depend on “networking” or accidental leads coming in because of country club memberships, volunteering for non-profits to develop networks, or going to events where you randomly meet people. It’s not a way to build a business, yet most of us do it that way. We’d never recommend to clients that they do it that way yet we all do—moving from pitching a bank to trying to “get in” with a new non-profit head. As principals we can all tap-dance our way through pretty much any strategic conversation, but most of our people can’t. And that’s where scalability breaks."
"Maybe it’s also because I'm getting older and I don’t want to be relying on networking forever. Or maybe it’s because I realize I won’t have much of anything to sell in a few years because I know the buyer will ask a lot of questions about our new business process. Mostly, though, it’s because we just aren’t really that competitive when we’re trying to be good at everything for everyone."
He hits most of the important points: exercising the same sort of courage you ask of your clients, tasting competence and never wanting to go back, and setting your firm up to scale, now...and during an earn out, if you ever have the opportunity to sell it.
Let us know if you want to swap that unicycle in for a bike!