The Payroll Peril-o-Meter: A Tool to Help Young Firms Survive

The Payroll Peril-o-Meter: A Tool to Help Young Firms Survive

Introduction:

If you’re a founder of a young and small professional service firm, you know the constant struggle of keeping your business afloat. The late nights, the relentless pursuit of clients, and the endless worries about making payroll each month are all too familiar. But fear not, for there’s a tool that can help you navigate these treacherous waters – the Payroll Peril-o-Meter. In this blog post, we’ll introduce you to this powerful tool that can be a game-changer for your business. We’ll walk you through its components and how it works, followed by a real-world example to show you its practical application. By the end of this article, you’ll understand the importance of managing your payroll peril and why joining Collective 54’s mastermind community could be the best decision you make for your business.

Part 1: The Payroll Peril-o-Meter Unveiled

The Payroll Peril-o-Meter is a financial assessment tool designed to help founders like you gauge the health of your young professional service firm. It takes into account four critical components:

    1. Cash in the Bank: This is the cash reserves your firm has on hand at any given moment. It’s your financial cushion and the first line of defense against unexpected expenses or revenue shortfalls.
    2. Backlog: Backlog represents the contracts and projects that your firm has already secured but has not yet executed. It’s essentially your pipeline of guaranteed revenue in the near future.
    3. Accounts Receivable: Accounts receivable are outstanding invoices that clients owe your firm. It’s the money you’re expecting to receive from completed work.
    4. Sales Forecasted to Close in the Next 30 Days with >90% Probability: This component looks at the potential new business that’s nearly guaranteed to come in within the next month. It provides a glimpse into your future revenue stream.

To calculate your Payroll Peril score, you sum up these components and then divide them by your total monthly payroll. The resulting number tells you how many months your firm can comfortably make payroll without any additional income. The key benchmarks to remember are:

    • Less than 3 months: You’re in peril, and immediate action is required.
    • 3 to 6 months: You’re stable for the short term.
    • More than 6 months: You’re in a strong position and can breathe easier.

Now, let’s dive into an example to make this clearer.

Part 2: A Practical Example

Imagine you’re the founder of a 3-year-old consulting firm with 10 employees. Let’s break down your Payroll Peril score:

    • Cash in the Bank: $50,000
    • Backlog: $300,000
    • Accounts Receivable: $100,000
    • Sales Forecasted to Close in the Next 30 Days with >90% Probability: $50,000

Total Cash Flow = $50,000 + $300,000 + $100,000 + $50,000 = $500,000

Total Monthly Payroll = 10 employees @ $100,000/year = $1.0 million/year = ~$84k/month.

Payroll Peril Score = $500,000 / $84,000 = 6 months.

In this scenario, your Payroll Peril score is 6 months. This means that you have a comfortable six months’ worth of payroll expenses covered, and you’re not in immediate peril.

You are not at risk of going out of business. You can pay yourself. And you do not need to lay anyone off. But, 6 months goes by in a hurry. You would sleep better at night if you had a year of runway. A year of runway would allow you to be more strategic. It would allow you to spend your time on bringing your long-term vision to life. With only six months of runway, you are working in the business, not on it. And you should be. You are edging towards being in trouble.

The Payroll Peril-o-Meter is a simple tool that gets to the essence in a hurry. Young firms do not need over-engineered and complicated financial reporting. Practically all of your expenses are payroll. Making monthly payroll is priority #1. Keep it simple and hopefully this tool helps you do so.

Conclusion: Join Collective 54’s Mastermind Community

While this example demonstrates a stable position, the reality for many young professional service firms can be quite different. The constant hustle and uncertainty of cash flow can be overwhelming. That’s where Collective 54’s mastermind community comes in.

Collective 54 is a community specifically designed for founders like you. It provides invaluable resources, mentorship, and a network of peers who understand the challenges you face. By joining, you gain access to expert advice and strategies for managing your business effectively, including tools like the Payroll Peril-o-Meter.

Don’t go it alone. Embrace the opportunity to learn from others who have been through the same challenges. Join Collective 54’s mastermind community today and take the first step towards securing a prosperous future for your professional service firm. Your journey to financial stability and success starts here.

Transforming Your Professional Service Firm’s Pricing Strategy for Success

Transforming Your Professional Service Firm’s Pricing Strategy for Success

As founders of small service firms in the US with 10-250 employees, you understand the significance of a well-crafted pricing strategy. Pricing isn’t just about setting a number; it’s about defining your firm’s value and ensuring sustainable growth. In this article, we’ll explore how a professional service firm’s pricing strategy evolves through the three lifecycle stages – Grow, Scale, and Exit, based on the framework presented in my book, “The Boutique: How to Start, Scale, and Sell a Professional Service Firm.” We’ll also delve into the common pricing challenges faced by firms in each stage and propose four transformative approaches that can elevate your pricing strategy to best-in-class status.

Understand the Value Delivered and Charge Accordingly

In the growth stage of your firm, it’s common to underprice your services. This often occurs due to a lack of understanding of the true value you provide to your clients. As you grow, it’s crucial to shift from a cost-based pricing model to one that reflects the value your services bring to the client. Calculate the potential benefits, ROI, or competitive advantage your clients gain by engaging with your firm. Align your pricing with the value you deliver, rather than simply covering your costs. Clients are often willing to pay a premium for tangible results.

Regularly Experiment to Determine Willingness to Pay

In the growth phase, scope creep can lead to a habit of giving away additional work for free. Transitioning to a more mature pricing strategy in the scale stage involves testing and pinpointing your clients’ willingness to pay for your services. Conduct regular experiments, surveys, or client interviews to gather insights into what clients truly value and what they are willing to pay extra for. This data-driven approach will enable you to establish pricing tiers that reflect your clients’ preferences while maximizing your revenue.

Charge an Easily Justified Premium Over Competitors

In the scale stage, it’s common to stop underpricing your work but continue charging similar rates to your competitors. To stand out and increase profitability, you should identify your unique selling propositions and charge an easily justified premium over your competitors. Focus on what makes your firm different – superior expertise, exceptional service, or innovative solutions. Showcase these differentiators to clients, making it clear why your services are worth the extra investment.

Centralize Pricing with a Deal Desk for Quality Control

Finally, as your firm matures, it’s crucial to centralize your pricing decisions through a deal desk. This approach ensures consistency and quality control in every proposal you send to clients. The deal desk evaluates pricing proposals, considering factors such as value, competition, and profitability. It prevents pricing decisions from being made in isolation, allowing for a strategic approach that aligns with your firm’s objectives. This centralized approach also fosters collaboration among team members to refine pricing strategies continuously.

Now, you may be wondering, “How do I successfully implement these strategies?” That’s where Collective 54’s mastermind community comes into play. Our community brings together like-minded founders of professional service firms who have successfully navigated these pricing challenges. By joining our community, you’ll have access to invaluable insights, case studies, and peer support, making your journey to best-in-class pricing strategies smoother and more effective.

In conclusion, your professional service firm’s pricing strategy is not static but evolves as you progress through different lifecycle stages. Recognizing the challenges specific to each stage and implementing transformative approaches can help you transition from an underdeveloped pricing strategy to a best-in-class one swiftly. To dive deeper into this topic and hear firsthand from peers who have successfully transformed their pricing strategies, we encourage you to join Collective 54’s mastermind community. Your path to pricing excellence starts here, among a community dedicated to your firm’s growth and success.

 

7 Key Diagnostic Questions to Determine If Your Firm Is a Strategy Firm or an Implementation Firm

7 Key Diagnostic Questions to Determine If Your Firm Is a Strategy Firm or an Implementation Firm

Are you wondering whether your boutique professional service firm is a strategy firm or an implementation firm? This crucial distinction can significantly impact your business growth and operational strategy. In this blog post, we will provide you with a comprehensive diagnostic tool to help you identify your firm’s true identity. Knowing whether you’re primarily focused on strategy or implementation is crucial when aiming to scale your operations effectively.

7 Step Diagnostic

    1. External Perception: Have a friend visit your website and ask them if they think you are a strategy firm or an implementation firm. Sometimes, an external perspective can reveal how your firm is perceived in the market.
    2. Billing Breakdown: Examine your billings. What percentage of your total billings come from high bill rate employees (senior strategists) versus low bill rate employees (implementers)? This ratio can indicate your firm’s primary focus.
    3. Client Titles: Review the titles of the clients you market to, sell to, and deliver for. Are they primarily in the C-suite or middle management? High-level client titles often correlate with strategy work.
    4. Project Timeline Analysis: Scrutinize your project plans. What percentage of the project timeline is dedicated to strategy versus implementation? A heavy emphasis on strategy might signal that you are a strategy firm.
    5. Client Questions: Listen to 10 recent Zoom calls that you recorded. Isolate the questions asked by the clients. What percentage of these questions are related to strategy and what percentage are related to implementation? This can provide insights into the nature of your client engagements.
    6. Competitor Analysis: Examine where your existing clients are choosing to spend with your competitors instead of your firm. Are you losing out on strategy work or implementation work? This can highlight areas for improvement.
    7. Delegation Patterns: Investigate whether clients are delegating you down to lower-level employees. If so, to which titles? Do these titles correlate with strategy work or implementation work? Understanding delegation patterns can shed light on your firm’s core competency.

In conclusion, understanding whether your boutique professional service firm is primarily a strategy firm or an implementation firm is crucial for scaling your operations effectively. It is hard(er) to scale a firm that does both. This diagnostic tool will help you gain clarity on your firm’s identity and areas for improvement. If you discover that you’re in the wrong category and want to pivot, consider joining the Collective 54 Mastermind Community. Our community can provide the guidance and resources you need to execute a successful transition. Don’t hesitate to reach out and explore how we can help you navigate this strategic shift in your business.

Real Exit vs. Fake Exit: The Truth Behind Your Business Legacy

Real Exit vs. Fake Exit: The Truth Behind Your Business Legacy

The journey of building and eventually exiting your boutique professional service firm is a significant part of your entrepreneurial story. As founders, it’s important to distinguish between a real exit and a fake exit to ensure that your career trajectory aligns with your values and aspirations. In this C54 Insights blog post, we’re going to shed light on the stark contrast between these two paths, so you can make informed decisions for your future.

Real Exit: A Testament to Growth and Success

A real exit is the result of years of hard work, dedication, and unwavering commitment to your boutique professional service firm. It’s a journey that’s characterized by the following elements:

    1. Steady Growth: You’ve meticulously built a great firm that creates high-paying jobs for loyal employees and leaves clients highly satisfied. Your firm’s quality attracts sophisticated buyers who see immense value in your business.
    2. Value Creation Plan: The buyer comes armed with a well-thought-out value creation plan, demonstrating how your firm can achieve new heights under different ownership. This plan aligns with your vision for your employees and clients, ensuring a smooth transition.
    3. Transparent Terms: A real exit is marked by transparency. You openly share the price and terms of the deal, recognizing the accomplishments of your team. You do this to establish credibility and substantiate your track record as you plan for your future endeavors.

Fake Exit: A Mirage of Success

On the other hand, a fake exit is a different narrative altogether:

    1. Stagnation: Your firm struggles to grow beyond a certain point, and a buyer comes along, offering an escape from the challenges of running the business. This kind of exit may seem appealing on the surface, but it’s a warning sign.
    2. Secretive Terms: The terms of the deal are shrouded in secrecy. There’s a reason for this: the terms are often embarrassing for the founder. Fake exits may involve little to no cash at closing, multi-year earn outs, low purchase prices, and heavy restrictions like non-competes and non-solicitations. The buyer’s agreement to keep these terms confidential is a closing technique that allows the founder to save face.

The Consequences of a Fake Exit

Choosing a fake exit might seem like a way to bolster your resume, but it can ultimately hurt you more than it helps. Here’s why:

    1. Honesty Matters: Most founders embark on multiple ventures throughout their lives. If your firm didn’t achieve a real exit, it’s essential to be honest about it. Learning from your mistakes and being transparent about past experiences will better equip you for success in your next endeavor.
    2. Building Credibility: By acknowledging your firm’s challenges and setbacks, you’re not only demonstrating integrity but also building credibility. This credibility will serve as a solid foundation for your future ventures, making it easier to garner trust and support.

In conclusion, the path you choose when exiting your boutique professional service firm speaks volumes about your values and long-term goals. A real exit is a testament to your achievements and sets the stage for a brighter future. In contrast, a fake exit, marked by secrecy and unfulfilled promises, can hinder your progress and damage your reputation.

At Collective 54, we encourage our members to strive for real exits and to embrace the valuable lessons that come from both successes and failures. Join our mastermind community to gain access to a network of like-minded founders and invaluable insights that can help you navigate your entrepreneurial journey successfully.

Remember, your legacy as a founder is shaped by your actions and decisions. Choose the path that aligns with your vision for the future, and together, we can achieve great things.

Finding the Sweet Spot: Determining the Right Size for Your Boutique Professional Service Firm

Finding the Sweet Spot: Determining the Right Size for Your Boutique Professional Service Firm

Dear Collective 54 Insights Subscribers,

In boutique professional service firms, there’s often a tug of war between those who chase relentless growth and those who prefer a more cautious, risk-averse approach. But finding the optimal size for your firm is essential for long-term success and personal fulfillment. In this article, we’ll explore the three critical factors that can help you determine the right size for your boutique professional service firm.

    1. Define Your Income Goal: Your income goal serves as the cornerstone for building your firm. Start by asking yourself, “How much money do I want to make?” This figure will enable you to reverse engineer your financial targets. Establish a profit target that aligns with your desired income and calculate the revenue required to meet that goal. Hint: “more” is never the correct answer. Put a dollar figure on the income goal.

For example, if your income goal is $500,000 per year and you aim for a 20% profit margin, your firm needs to generate $2.5 million in revenue. This simple equation allows you to define the size of your firm based on your income aspirations.

    1. Assess Your Workload Tolerance: Your firm’s size is intrinsically linked to how hard you’re willing to work. Consider the trade-off between the size of your firm and the amount of effort you’re willing to invest. A founder striving for a $100 million firm will undoubtedly work ten times harder than someone aiming for a $10 million firm. Hint: no one ever said on their death bed “I wish I spent more time at the office.”

For example, we all have the same 24 hours in a day, seven days in a week, and 52 weeks in a year. Reflect on how much of this precious time you’re willing to dedicate to work. Your desired workload will directly impact the scale and growth trajectory of your firm.

    1. Determine Your Impact: The size of your firm also influences the number of lives you can touch. Smaller firms typically have a limited client list and a smaller employee roster, which can limit their reach. Conversely, larger firms often serve a broader client base and employ more people, allowing for an opportunity to touch more lives.

For example, let’s compare my time as the founder of SBI and Collective 54. During my time at SBI, with a small client roster and a limited employee base, I touched a few lives intimately. However, at Collective 54, with hundreds of members in the community, I am making an outsized impact by touching many lives. While at SBI, I was driven by money, not impact, and my approach to sizing my firm reflected that. I purposedly chose a business model that had very few clients with each client contributing large profits. In contrast, today I am driven by touching as many people’s lives as I can, and therefore, my approach to sizing Collective 54 reflects this. I have chosen a business model based on lots of members with each member contributing small profits, just enough to invest in the community. I am optimizing for impact, not money. And this dictates the optimum size of Collective 54.  As you can, by comparing these two examples, the optimum size of your firm is determined by the goals of the Founder. You.

In conclusion, determining the right size for your boutique professional service firm is a strategic decision influenced by your income goals, your willingness to work, and the level of impact you wish to achieve. Finding the balance between these factors is crucial for your success and satisfaction as a founder.

If you’re ready to explore this further and join a community of like-minded founders who can support you on your journey, we invite you to apply for membership at Collective 54. Together, we can help you define and achieve the perfect size for your boutique professional service firm.

Don’t miss this opportunity to grow smarter, not just bigger. Apply to Collective 54 today and embark on a path towards a more fulfilling and prosperous future for you and your firm.

From Consultant to Authority: Unleash Your Boutique Service Firm’s True Potential

From Consultant to Authority: Unleash Your Boutique Service Firm’s True Potential

In boutique professional services, there’s a crucial distinction that can significantly impact the growth and scalability of your firm. This distinction lies in the roles of being a “Consultant” and an “Authority.” Let’s delve into the definitions and implications of these terms, with examples from within the boutique professional service industry segment.

Let’s start with a basic definition for each.

    • A consultant typically offers expertise, advice, and services to clients based on their knowledge and experience. They often work on a project or retainer basis, billing clients for their time and deliverables.
    • An authority, on the other hand, is recognized as an industry leader and trusted expert in a specific niche or domain. They have a deep understanding of their field and are sought after for their unique insights and perspective. For example, my friend Geoff Smart is the world’s foremost authority on hiring A players. As a result, he built a firm with approximately 175 people and $100 million in revenue from scratch in 1995.

Here is a simple example applying these two definitions to the management consulting segment to illustrate.

    • Consultant: A management consultant may provide strategic advice and project management services to a client looking to optimize their business processes.
    • Authority: An authority in management consulting might be a renowned thought leader who has authored influential books on leadership and innovation, attracting clients seeking transformative solutions.

This subtle, but important distinction has considerable implications for Founders of small service firms. Here are just a few to consider:

    • Increased Earnings Potential
    • Authorities can command higher fees for their services due to their specialized expertise and reputation. Clients are willing to pay a premium for their unique insights and proven results. Most don’t charge by the hour, never negotiate fees, and always get paid in advance.

For instance, a consultant in a marketing agency offering general digital marketing services may charge standard rates for running ad campaigns. An authority in the marketing industry, known for groundbreaking marketing strategies and case studies, can charge premium rates for exclusive consulting services.

    • Scalability:
      • Authorities have a more scalable business model as clients often seek them out, reducing the need for constant client acquisition efforts. Their reputation draws a steady stream of clients. Authorities have more demand than supply and cherry pick which clients and projects to work on.

For instance, a consultant in a software development firm might need to actively market their services to secure new projects continuously.

In contrast, an authority in software development, renowned for pioneering coding techniques, can maintain a waiting list of clients eager to work with them.

    • Exit Strategy:
      • Authorities possess intellectual capital and a strong client base, making them attractive to potential acquirers or investors, making an exit achievable. However, most authorities don’t sell their firms because they are growing fast and generating piles of cash.

For instance, a systems integration firm staffed with consultants may have a successful practice but may find it challenging to sell their firm for there are many just like it. An authority in systems integration, known for developing groundbreaking integration solutions, can attract acquisition offers from firms looking to enhance their capabilities.

If you want to migrate from a firm staffed with consultants to a firm staffed with authorities, and reap the benefits, here is an outline of the steps to take.

    1. Narrow Your Niche: Choose a specific niche or domain within your field where you can develop deep expertise. Ask yourself: “In what field do I know more than anyone else?”
    2. Outlearn the Competition: Invest in continuous learning and stay updated with the latest trends, technologies, and developments in your chosen niche. Ask yourself: “How can I learn at a rate 10x that of others in my niche?”
    3. Create Unique Content: Start sharing your knowledge and insights through various channels like books, blogs, articles, podcasts, webinars, or videos. Ask yourself: “How can I create THE newsletter that is a must read never to be missed publication in my niche?”
    4. Build Your Presence: Establish a strong online presence by developing a professional website and social media profiles optimized for search engines, social media platforms, and large language models. Ask yourself: “When a prospect finds me online do they say ‘oh my gosh. Where has this been all my life?”
    5. Network and Collaborate: Connect with other authorities and influencers in your niche. Collaborate on projects, co-author articles, or participate in panel discussions. Ask yourself: “Who are the people in my niche that I respect and want to be associated with? How do I become a valuable thought partner to them?”
    6. Give Things Away: Provide free resources, tools, or templates that demonstrate your expertise and help potential clients or followers. This showcases your commitment to helping others and establishes trust. Clients will pay when they need to apply the tools. Ask yourself: “How am I going to overcome my fear of giving away my secret sauce?”
    7. Collect and Showcase Testimonials: Encourage satisfied clients to provide testimonials or reviews about their positive experiences with your services. Display these testimonials prominently on your website to build trust. Ask yourself: “which clients are my best sales people and how do I get them in front of prospects to tell my story?”
    8. Speak: Seek opportunities to speak at conferences, webinars, or podcasts related to your niche. Sharing your insights as a speaker can further solidify your authority status. Ask yourself: “If I am truly the authority in this niche, how can someone have a conference without me on the agenda?”
    9. Think in Years Not Days/Weeks/Months: Becoming an authority takes time and consistent effort. Continue to produce high-quality content, engage with your audience, and refine your expertise over the years. Ask yourself: “Am I behaving like a get rich quick scam artist or an authority built to last?”
    10. Adjust: Periodically assess your progress and adjust your strategies as needed. Pay attention to the feedback you receive from your audience and adapt accordingly. Ask yourself: “Is my skin to thin?”

In conclusion, understanding the difference between being a consultant and an authority is crucial for founders of boutique service firms. While both roles have their merits, becoming an authority can lead to higher earnings, easier scalability, and a more promising exit strategy. By positioning yourself as an authority in your niche, you can unlock new opportunities and take your boutique service firm to greater heights.

Wanted to learn from those who evolved from consultant to authority? Join Collective 54, a mastermind community filled with those who have made this change. Apply here.

 

Tips for Preventing Founder Burnout in a Services Firm

Tips for Preventing Founder Burnout in a Services Firm

Play Video

Starting your firm takes a lot of courage, and it can feel like starting it is enough, but once you start scaling ambitions expand tremendously. And once you start asking yourself how big you can grow your business, burnout becomes a real threat.

That’s why we’re highlighting tips to prevent burnout. This video will help you explore options for intentionally scaling your firm without spreading yourself too thin.

In this video, you’ll learn:
– The true value of time tracking in professional services
– The benefits of building a task force
– The difference between growth of revenue and growth of headcount

When Your Exit Needs an Exit: Navigating Financing Contingencies in M&A Deals

When Your Exit Needs an Exit: Navigating Financing Contingencies in M&A Deals

Embarking on the journey to sell your business is a monumental decision, especially for small to lower-middle market business owners. It’s not just a transaction; it’s a pivotal moment that can shape the future of what you’ve built. However, amidst the excitement and potential for growth, there lurks a critical challenge that could derail your plans: counterparty risk, particularly the risk stemming from financing contingencies.

Understanding and addressing this risk early on, specifically at the Letter of Intent (LOI) stage, is crucial. This stage is your best opportunity to gauge the likelihood of a successful transaction before becoming too invested. For businesses in the small to lower-middle market sector—those with total sales under $150 million—engaging in a sale process is not only a significant financial commitment, involving advisors such as attorneys, financial analysts, and accountants, but also a substantial investment of your time.

Counterparty risk in M&A transactions can arise from various sources, but one of the most common and challenging to navigate is the buyer’s inability to secure adequate financing. This issue can affect deals across all market segments and involves both financial buyers (like private equity firms) and strategic buyers (larger companies within your industry).

At the LOI stage, it’s essential to critically assess the risk associated with the buyer’s ability to obtain appropriate financing for your transaction. Some LOIs will explicitly state that the deal’s closing is contingent upon the buyer obtaining suitable financing. However, even without a specific financing contingency, a buyer’s limited access to necessary funds—whether through equity or debt—poses a significant risk to closing the deal.

This financing risk can manifest in various ways:

    • The buyer may have access to financing, but it comes with stringent conditions;
    • The buyer’s ability to deploy cash to purchase your business may be subject to loan covenants restricting investments made to purchase other businesses (like yours) under the buyer’s existing credit arrangements, or otherwise require the approval of the buyer’s existing lenders ; or
    • Alternatively, the buyer could be attempting to raise capital to fund the equity portion of the purchase alongside negotiating the deal.

For business owners, understanding these risks and the potential impact on your transaction is vital. In navigating these waters, the key is to engage in thorough due diligence and direct communication with potential buyers about their financing plans and capabilities. At the LOI stage, it is customary to conduct interviews with key buyer personnel, and appropriate to ask direct questions about the ability of the buyer to purchase and then operate your business. If a buyer cannot commit to make a purchase of your business from available cash, you should ask the buyer to provide you with copies of any written equity or debt term sheets from outside parties in order to assure yourself of the buyer’s ability to rely upon outside financing. You should review those term sheets alongside your financial advisors and attorneys to understand what conditions attend the release of funds for the purchase of your business. Additionally, you should also ask your potential buyer whether they have existing credit arrangements and what conditions those arrangements might impose upon your transaction. In situations where you have the good fortune of evaluating LOIs from different counterparties at the same time, you should obviously preference favorable offers that also present the greatest certainty that the buyer can accomplish a closing of your transaction. This proactive approach can help mitigate risks and ensure that you’re entering into a transaction with a clear understanding of the potential hurdles, saving you time and protecting the investment you’ve made in pursuing the sale.

You might determine that there is still substantial uncertainty about your buyer’s ability to close. For example, if your buyer will be reliant upon an equity capital raise to partially fund your purchase price, it may be reasonable to conclude that the closing could be delayed, or cancelled, if their capital raising efforts are unsuccessful. In such events, you should discuss your options with your advisors to determine the customary protective measures you can take, or agree upon with your buyer, in the event the buyer is unable to close. For example, in smaller transactions (where the purchase price is $5mm or less) requiring a deposit of some portion of the purchase price for the seller’s security is not uncommon and even recently I have seen deposits used in much larger transactions (>$50mm purchase price). Some private equity sponsors are agreeable contribute up to 100% of the purchase price in equity (called a “full equity backstop”) if they are unable to obtain sufficient debt financing to fund a purchase. Although they are uncommon in middle-market transactions, reverse termination fees (where a buyer pays the seller a fee if it cannot close a transaction within some period) and arrangements to pay seller costs where a buyer is unable to close a transaction are other options that should be considered.

In conclusion, while the prospect of selling your business is an exciting one, it’s accompanied by significant risks that need careful consideration. By focusing on counterparty risk at the LOI stage, especially related to financing contingencies, you can better navigate the complexities of M&A transactions, ensuring a smoother journey towards a successful sale. We at Troutman would be delighted to help you evaluate both the counterparty risk related to your buyer and all available strategies to mitigate that risk.

Episode 165 – Time Management: Strategies for Maximizing Employee Productivity in Boutique Professional Service Firms – Member Case by Benjamin Edwards

In this session, we delve into the science of time management and the art maximizing employee productivity within boutique professional service firms. From strategic time management techniques to fostering a culture of efficiency, we explore actionable strategies to ensure every hour counts. Discover how to optimize resources, streamline processes, and empower employees to thrive, ultimately driving success for both individuals and the organization as a whole.

TRANSCRIPT

Greg Alexander [00:00:15] Hey, everybody, this is Greg Alexander. Welcome to the Pro Search podcast, brought to you by collective 54. On this episode, we’re going to talk about time management and time management in the context of employee productivity inside of a boutique professional services firm. And I got a special guest with us today is a member of collective 54. His name is Ben Edwards, and Ben is with a software company called Cmap that specializes in this very thing. So Ben, welcome to the show. Please introduce yourself to the audience. 

Benjamin Edwards [00:00:48] Hey, thank you very much for having me, Greg. And hello everybody. At C 54. It’s Greg said I’m Ben Edwards, I’m the VP of partnerships here at C Matt and I’ve got a dual role. I get to lead our go to market efforts with boutique consulting in North America and also run all of our partnership opportunities, including being in C 54. 

Greg Alexander [00:01:10] That. But. We hear from members all the time. Is their time starved?  I don’t have enough time to do this? I don’t have enough time to do that. And yet, on the same token, you know, when we look at the benchmarking data, the margins are sometimes where we would want them to be. And then the services business, our inventory is the hour, the billable hour, if you will. So from your perspective, what do you think kind of the basics of time management are in this in the context of what we’re talking about today? 

Benjamin Edwards [00:01:42] Well, you’re absolutely right to address that. But professional services firms people are both the biggest cost and source of revenue. Yet we still find a surprising number of businesses not tracking time. Maybe part of that is down to the fact they use a time tracking point solution, and adoption from the top down and to employee level isn’t particularly strong because there’s a perception that it’s a little bit big Brother Ray. Maybe it’s being used by the execs in the firm to sort of monitor. Performance where it isn’t necessarily the case actually like you address. There’s some benchmarking data in North America and didn’t hear me. I’d suggest those firms that keep a tight hold on time management are more likely to have stronger gross margin, better utilization rates, and be in the growth cohort. 

Greg Alexander [00:02:38] Yeah. So when you’re working with clients of yours to implement time tracking, first off, what is the kind of trigger event that gets them to finally do it. And then when they go to implement it, what are the 2 or 3 things, the obstacles that are standing in the way? What you know, what can we learn from the previous implementations to help our members avoid some common mistakes? 

Benjamin Edwards [00:03:07] Yeah, I think typically they would start to look at time tracking actually, after they’ve used a time tracking point solution on its own and not seeing a huge amount of value from it, unless obviously they do purely chain and work, in which case it directly links to billing. But within C 54 you talk a lot about growth and scale and product ization and being able to repeat business. And presumably that’s fixed fee type engagements. So they come to us because they want to join the time keeping data point alongside financial information, project management information, combinations of pipeline and live engagements. So they feel they’ve realized that actually from a maturity perspective and a sort of growth scale and exit perspective, it’s imperative to connect all of those dots together in terms of some of the challenges that we see with it. The first thing to sort of point out is probably adoption. And actually, this is probably where the most interesting element is quasi 54 members, because you’re a consultancy and part of your skill set is. Delivering value to your clients and how you propose things to people is really important. It’s the same with your employees. How you position it inside your organization is going to be absolutely imperative to the adoption. If I may, I’ll give you a couple of examples. So I guess the starting point is firms who can tie in with KPIs. And that then might lead to a stronger margin, which you can then suggest your employees means that they can have greater growth opportunities inside that firm. They’re going to be part of an organization that’s growing and scaling. And if you want to take that even further, you can even incentivize it to a certain degree, i.e. profit sharing. The other angle from a selling it in perspective to employees that can overcome that adoption hurdle is making it about them. So utilization is a really key metric for any professional services firm. But often employees look at that and think that’s something not going to be judged by, you know, which can be true to a certain extent. But actually if you’re implementing time management, it can be really beneficial to the employee because you can track non billable time, which is how much time have they invested in learning and development. How much time are they doing spending on IP creation or progressing their own career. And you can track that. You can also make sure that people don’t get double booked. People don’t experience, so over being being over resourced onto engagements and then at risk of burnout. So it’s a lot of value that you can give to your employees when you’re actually implementing a solution like this. It really is about how you sell it. The second most important thing to making sure that actually it’s a successful initiative is connecting and with all the other key components of running your operation. So. Analyzing the information to make sure that it’s aligned with your product ization strategy. Tying it into the project financials so that you can make sure there’s no scope creep or delivery and it stays on time, stays on budget. And then you can reinvest that. Hopefully that’s useful. 

Greg Alexander [00:06:31] Yeah. Those are a couple of good, gotchas to watch out for. I particularly like how you sell it, and I think that makes a lot of sense. And showing how it’s to the benefit of the employee to do this. You know, for our listeners, you know, if you think about the challenge, especially with project based consulting firms, the challenge when you have limited forward visibility is matching revenue and expenses. You know, they’re constantly in the situation where they were. They fill the lake, drain the lake, fill the lake, drain the lake, you know, and they’re in there at times. They’ve got, you know, too many people sitting on the beach, so to speak. And then other times you’re running hot at 120% utilization, and they can’t figure out which way is up. And time tracking is a solution to that because you can see where the inventory is going, where all the time is going. And this better allows you to match revenue and expenses and get away from the boom bust cycle associated with project based consulting firms. Now, at what point been in your opinion? Is it appropriate for a firm to kind of move off of a unsophisticated, manual, spreadsheet driven approach to, you know, using a software tool to make this happen? 

Benjamin Edwards [00:07:44] Oh, really? We can split that down into two cohorts. There’s the first time founder an organization which typically adopts it later in the cycle, i.e. somewhere between 20 and 50 employees, depending on usually how much work they’ve got on and whether they can free up a resource to lead that type of project internally. And then there’s the second time founder, who knows absolutely that the operational guardrails that will lead to efficiencies right from the off. And they can embed practices from day one and they will adopt it sooner. 

Greg Alexander [00:08:20] So the person that’s been there and done that tends to adopt it sooner because they’ve seen the error in their ways and they and they know the value of it. Absolutely. You know, you talked about these time tracking systems, connecting with the other systems inside of a firm. So let’s let’s have a conversation around that. So first how does a time tracking tool connect to a CRM. 

Benjamin Edwards [00:08:42] Well, if it’s in a city like ours, an operations platform is part of the tech. So actually, it’s part of the solution that you’re you’re purchasing from a business like Sema. However, quite a few businesses, particularly in the North American market, have already got a CRM, namely Salesforce and HubSpot being the two. And in which case you just have an API based connection between your CRM and your PSC. It’s a two way connection, and that enables you to also do a number of things, so you can actually start resourcing and soft booking people onto pipeline opportunities. But. Okay. And that will help you avoid that boom bust scenario you talked about earlier because you got that forward looking visibility. Let’s talk about the banking finance system. 

Greg Alexander [00:09:33] So how does a time tracking system like yours connect into the financial system? 

Benjamin Edwards [00:09:38] For pure TNM based work, it’s imperative because what people record from a time sheet perspective goes on to the bill and sent to the client, and therefore that connects with your finance system. But I know in C 54 and we wholeheartedly agree moving away from that towards more fixed fee, including performance based, remuneration is still imperative to have that financial connectivity because you want to make sure that as the project is ongoing, you’ve got visibility on where that time that’s been spent by your team tracks against that initial budget, so that actually you’re not going to experience the scope creep that is so common in professional services firms. And often it’s really well-meaning, over delivery. But actually, as an owner founder, if you can instill that sort of clarity and confidence from PMS to address those challenges head on, either with the client or delivery team. That’s that’s margin that you can reinvest in the business for whatever you need. Yeah. 

Greg Alexander [00:10:45] The thing that I always got the most value out of was looking at. The financial information, which time is a component of at the individual product project level. Before the project was over. So a hypothetical example to illustrate my point. You know, let’s say that I’m in a six month project and it’s a fixed fee and the client is agreed to milestone based payments. So maybe they pay a third of the project at project kickoff, a third at the halfway point and the third at the end. It’s very common that we see this in the North American market. Well, in between those milestones, I’m trying to figure out, you know, am I going to turn a profit on this project or not? And that largely comes down to, you know, how accurate was my scoping when I submitted a proposal, and am I tracking to that original scope, or am I off scope quite a bit? And back when I had my boutique, it was very simple. We did a green, yellow, red, green was, you know, we’re on track. Yellow was, you know, we’re starting to see some problems, but it’s not a disaster. And red was, you know, what the heck happened? You know, we have massive scope creep. And if we don’t course correct, you know, early in the project we’re likely to lose money, which would then trigger us to go have a conversation with the client and point out point out the fact that, you know, they’re asking us to do things that weren’t originally scoped. You know, is that was that unique to my situation or it was is that a common use case and a common benefit that you see others realize? 

Benjamin Edwards [00:12:16] Yeah, really come in. And the other one to add to that is having a view in your progress page website, connecting time at a project level against your invoicing so that you know, you can make sure that you’re not. Spending a huge amount of time on a client work that maybe hasn’t been fully invoiced yet, and you need to catch that up. Or the reverse is true where you’ve invoiced a hell of a lot upfront, but actually you haven’t spent a huge amount of delivery time on it, and therefore it’s going to catch you up at some point. So that’s another keenly viewed report in our system, I would say. 

Greg Alexander [00:12:52] Yeah. And for those that aren’t familiar with that, whip is work in progress. So Project Whip is work in progress. That’s some, some industry slang there. I just wanted to clear up, you know, we we then collected $0.54. It’s professional services. Of course, you have the consulting shops and they get the term whip, but others like maybe, marketing agencies and architectural firms and things of that nature may not, may not understand that terminology, but we all should understand that terminology because it’s, it’s relevant across the segments. 

Benjamin Edwards [00:13:21] Yeah, absolutely. So we service businesses across professional services. And what’s always interesting just to know is the differences in the overall strategy, but also the KPIs and the margins and the growth of boutique consultancies versus agencies versus AEC versus life sciences. And there are little intricacies and sort of common stumbling blocks that are pertinent to each of those different industries. 

Greg Alexander [00:13:48] Yeah. We try to keep these podcast short to about 15 minutes, and we’re at the window right here. But then on behalf of the membership, we certainly appreciate you coming on and sharing your wisdom with us. We, we’re looking forward to the associated role model session, which, for those that are not members that are listening to this every week at inside of collective 54, we’ll have a Friday role model session, and Ben will be the featured role model. And one week. And that’s a private one hour Q&A session where members will be given an opportunity to ask their questions to Ben directly as it relates to and improving employee productivity through time tracking. So a couple of calls to action to the audience. So if you remember it, look for the meeting invitation for Ben’s upcoming weekly role model session and attend that so you can ask your questions directly. If you’re not a member and you think you might want to become one to learn from people like Ben, go to collective 54.com and fill out an application and we’ll get in contact with you. And if you’re not ready for either of those two things and just want to learn more, I point you to my book. It’s called The Boutique How to Start, scale and Sell a professional services Firm, and you can find that on Amazon. But Ben, it was good to see you. Look forward to your session on Friday. And thanks for being here. 

Benjamin Edwards [00:14:57] Thanks, Greg. Look forward to it. And to bring you questions, bring you scenarios. We’ll try and. 

Greg Alexander [00:15:03] All right. Sounds great okay. Thanks again everybody. Until next time I wish you the best of luck as you try to grow, scale and exit your firm.

Episode 164 – From Client to Founder: The Journey of Building a Boutique Professional Service Firm – Member Case by Dave Makerewich

In this episode, we delve into the remarkable journey of a founder who transitioned from being a client to establishing a thriving boutique professional service firm. Discover how his firsthand experience as a client shaped his understanding of the industry’s needs and fueled his entrepreneurial spirit. Through insightful anecdotes and lessons learned, uncover the unique challenges and triumphs of building a business from a client’s perspective.

TRANSCRIPT

Greg Alexander [00:00:15] Hey, everybody, this is Greg Alexander, the host of the Pro Serv podcast, brought to you by collective 54. If you’re not familiar, collective 54 is the first. And to my knowledge, the only mastermind community dedicated exclusively to the unique needs of a unique audience and that unique audience are founders and leaders of boutique professional services firms. In fact, the number 54 is the industry code for professional services. So if you’re somebody in consulting or a marketing agency, a law firm, accounting firm, architect, you know, you name it, some of that market sells and delivers expertise for a living and you’re a boutique, which is kind of post startup but pre scale. Then this is the place for you. On today’s episode we’re going to talk about how one leaves industry. And starts a boutique professional services firm by taking advantage of. The previous experience in the industry, and how that can lead to correctly selecting a niche to operate in, and how that can lead to accelerated success in the early days of being a boutique browser firm. And with that, I have a member of collective 54. I’m going to give him a chance to introduce himself. So, Dave, it’s good to see you. Would you please introduce yourself to the audience? 

Dave Makerwich [00:01:41] Yeah, my name’s, Dave Makerwich. I started, Maven about eight years ago, and as Greg mentioned, I’m coming from a different industry. I used to work in a big corporate, sort of setting at, a large pharmaceutical company and worked with a lot of professional service firms in the marketing and advertising space, and kind of just saw a unique opportunity and, decided to jump in. 

Greg Alexander [00:02:10] So, Dave, when you were in industry, you were in a pharmaceutical company. Is that correct? 

Dave Makerwich [00:02:16] Yeah, I was working as a brand manager in the marketing department. 

Greg Alexander [00:02:20] Okay. And then you would hire. Marketing agencies as the client, as I understand it. Is that accurate? 

Dave Makerwich [00:02:28] That is accurate. Usually, you know, the job of a marketer in that is many fold, and one of them is managing all of your advertising materials for your Salesforce, for customers, for, you know, patient materials and all of that. All of that work is generally, you know, given out to a third party agency to help assist with all of that. 

Greg Alexander [00:02:52] So you had a very unique perspective, having been the client. And then you went ahead and decided to start a firm that would serve you or others like you. Do I understand that correctly? 

Dave Makerwich [00:03:05] That’s correct. 

Greg Alexander [00:03:06] Yeah. And this is the thing that I really want to circle and highlight, because I don’t know if you know this day, but you and I share that in common. When I started, my boutique was called SBI, which stood for Sales Benchmark Index. I was you. I was, well, I should say I was similar to you in that I was the client. I was a sales executive in a big tech company, and I hired business to business sales effectiveness consulting companies. And because I was the client, I really understood the client. So when I mustered up the courage to become an entrepreneur, I started a consulting company that would serve people like me. And that gave me an unfair advantage, because all the work that somebody has to do to kind of understand the ideal client profile was really easy because I was the client. So I had to understand myself, which I guess in some cases isn’t easy. But in this case was. So, and I want to highlight that as a great opportunity for, for many, if you were once the client and you now serve the client, you have a huge advantage today. Why don’t you share with me your perspective on what that advantage is and how you leverage it here in the early days of Maven, and how that has led to what’s now an eight year success. 

Dave Makerwich [00:04:31] Yeah. Great question. I mean. I think when I first started working in the area and working with these third parties. It didn’t take long to realize that the con. There was a few things missing. Like, I feel like, you know, pharmaceutical advertising was such a specific thing with with such a detailed regulatory environment, a lot of rules around what you can and cannot do. And at the end of the day, I just I kind of felt as the, the person hiring these agencies, I was never really happy with the level of service or the quality like, I, I felt like for the the amount of money being spent on things and the amount of time it was taking to happen, there was just something I was like, this is something’s got to be wrong here. Like, why? Why is this so inefficient? Or why am I so frustrated all of the time? And so, you know, so yeah. Is that was that just me or was that kind of, you know, was there actually an opportunity? And I think I think when I started to ask around my peers and talk to others, it was just like a similar feeling, like a lot of other, you know, marketers were saying the same thing, like it was just this kind of accepted reality that that this is the way it is and this is how much it costs and this is how long it takes. And yeah, it’s frustrating. You got to kind of do the work yourself. And I think, I don’t know, it just it just led to this idea that I didn’t know anything about how to do the other side of the business, but I knew absolutely, as the client what I wanted and what I needed. And I think that’s all that I really needed to kind of drive me to take that next step and just jump in and try to figure it out. 

Greg Alexander [00:06:16] You know, so you you backed into the right way to do it. And I want to highlight this, which is very often people think about the service first and the problem second. So therefore they run around with a service or a product looking for a problem to solve, and they never really get off the ground. In your case, you had great clarity as to what the problem was, the frustrations that the clients had, which was a huge advantage. And then you could kind of back into, okay, so if if this is what I was looking for and the current providers didn’t offer it, you know, I can engineer that, I can figure out what the service needs to be to make the clients happy. And that is the basis upon which I’ll differentiate myself and I’ll win business. And it’s, it’s a nuance thing, you know, it’s not it’s not so obvious, but it is a huge advantage. And I think that’s why you’ve had the success that you’ve had. Which speaking of which, just for context, for listeners, what types of services do you provide clients? 

Dave Makerwich [00:07:21] Well, again, our clients are very niche and very specific. And so, you know, generally, if they’re marketing managers of pharmaceutical brands and those brand managers are looking for assistance on the entire portfolio of, of marketing and advertising tools that they need to to drive growth of their own brands and their own business. So it’s, you know, it’s kind of like, the services, there’s a series of services that are kind of typical and, you know, bread and butter and there’s sort of an extension of can you be innovative on top of all of that, and can you be a strategic partner with them and make them feel like, you know, you’re a part of their brand team? So it’s both, I guess. I don’t know, it can be very diversified yet. Also sometimes simplistic in in what you’re providing. 

Greg Alexander [00:08:18] Okay. So again, just for context, maybe like one example of a bread and butter service that everybody that might not know pharmaceutics could at least conceptually understand. 

Dave Makerwich [00:08:27] Sure, sure. So. So you’ve got a sales team there going out there speaking to physicians. They need materials when they’re speaking to physicians okay. You’ve got to give them a like a detail that has here’s the information doctor. You need to know about my product. 

Greg Alexander [00:08:41] Okay. Perfect. Yeah. That’s very helpful. So so when you were the brand manager on the other side of the desk, and you were hiring somebody to produce that for you, you were frustrated with how long it took, how much it cost, etc.. And then recapping the words. Tell us a little bit about that frustration. 

Dave Makerwich [00:08:59] Well, I think one of the pieces, you know, my I have, my my educational background, I. My, my, I have, my mother and father were both in healthcare. My father as a physician, I thought for the longest time I wanted to be a physician. I have a strong science background, didn’t go to school for business, didn’t go to school for marketing. Got into, sort of pharmaceuticals. I realized, you know, going down the physician route wasn’t for me. Got exposed to marketing that way. But, you know, you’re became the brand manager for, a very large product in Canada. It’s a very complicated monarch, you know, monoclonal antibody. And you’re in this market where you’re competing against other monoclonal antibodies. It’s very, very nuanced. There’s a lot of specifics of it. And you kind of need to have people on your, I guess, your account team that you’re able to have conversations with that even understand what it is that you’re trying to do. And so one level of that frustration is just, I feel like I’m talking to people that aren’t really getting it. Like, I feel like I’m talking to people that are simply taking what I’m saying and relaying it back to some other group of people. And and at the end of the day, the materials that are coming back to me are not what I asked for. There’s a lot of broken telephone, there’s a lot of rework and fixing and trying to get people back on track. So I think that’s one element. 

Greg Alexander [00:10:31] Yeah, that’s very helpful. What ends up happening in that case is you, the client, you hired somebody to do the job, and you end up doing the job yourself anyways because you’re redoing the provider’s work over and over again. And that could be a very frustrating pain point. And it’s a great example just to highlight what we’re talking about today. And that is, you know, when you were once the client and you are now the service provider, you have a unique advantage over the competition who were not once the client in Dave’s case, you know, he is the son of a physician. He understood that, you know, he thought about being a physician himself, so he wasn’t, you know, this, I guess generic horizontal marketer. You know, he was this highly niched specialist, and it was through that specialization that allowed him to launch his firm and differentiate himself versus the competition. So speaking of the firm, so you’re eight years in. You know, I know that, you have read my book, The Boutique. Thank you for that, by the way. And I know that one of the things that you mentioned to the team was just the appreciation for having vocabulary around these things. So using our vocabulary, you know, you would technically now at eight years, you would be in the scale stage. You had graduated from the growth stage, which is the first stage, those first five years. Now you’re in the scale stage, which is the next five years at least on average anyways. And then at some point, you know, you’ll graduate towards the final five year period, which is the exit period. So you know your experience. Do you do you feel like you’re in that kind of middle scale stage? Do you feel like you’re still in the growth stages, or is it a little bit of both? How far away from the exit stage are you? You know, kind of what are your thoughts? 

Dave Makerwich [00:12:18] Yeah, it’s a great question. And I think I may have even asked, you know, your team, like where am I? Is I definitely, you know, when I started Maven, there was definitely some solopreneurs ship. It was there’s definitely some time of me figuring it out on my own. I think my ambitions, at the beginning, were different than what my ambitions are now. Like. I was just trying to do something different. I was enjoying the work, and the most important thing to me at the time was just figure this problem out and see if I can get a few other people on board and to try to figure out the problem and just try to change the game a little bit. But then, you know, at some point something changed, like we started to get some really great people, some extremely talented employees. We started to build a really great culture. And now, you know, I know that you talk about this, in your books, and I’ve actually read both the boutique and the founder. They’re both great. And you talk about this, that we’re in the business of both, you know, not only serving our clients, but also our people. And at some point, the the internal people piece became. And I wouldn’t say more important, but just as important, making sure I’m retaining the right people, making sure I’m keeping them happy and just their well-being became just as important to me. So. I don’t know. Getting back to your original question, like I think there’s. I think your books have provided a lot of clarity on, you know, what? I think we’ve done well up until now and but but also more clarity on what are the next kind of hurdles that we need to do to get us to the next step. I’m definitely not in my mind thinking about the exit stage like that’s I still think there’s so much opportunity in terms of what we can do and in terms of how we can grow the company and and give our people the opportunities that they deserve. And it’s a big market. So I’m still very much excited about that part and sort of finishing figuring it out. And and I guess opening the doors a little bit because I think we’re, we’re definitely in the stage where we just, we don’t do a lot of business development. We still get a lot of referral work. And it hasn’t been something that we’ve had to do. But again, I know there’s going to be a point where we need to change that and do that. So so I don’t know. I think it’s fair, you know, where we are. 

Greg Alexander [00:14:44] But so in listening to you, I would suggest that you are in the scale stage. And I’ll tell you the reason why I believe that, it’s the expanded ambition. So when I, when I talk to founders and I experienced this myself when I went through it, you know, when you launch your firm as the solopreneur, you know, you’re really just trying to prove to yourself that you can replace the income that you walked away from when you left corporate America. And it’s very much a lifestyle business. And then all of a sudden you have some success and you start hiring some people. You start caring about those people. You start thinking about creating, you know, high paying careers for people. That expanded ambition is the sign that you’ve moved into the scale stage because it’s it’s more than just you, you know, it’s it’s a firm it’s not a practice. There’s a big difference there between those two. I would also suggest, however, that, you know. I like to bring clarity to these situations by suggesting it’s very linear, but it’s not. It’s messier than that. So there’s elements of your business like yourself as a founder, I think you’ve matured to the point you’re in the skill stage. However, if you’re still only generating business from referrals, which is great because that means you’re doing great work and you’re getting referrals. But that would suggest that on the sales and marketing side of things, you’re a little less mature in that part of your business, that function, it might still be in the growth stage. And that’s what happens is parts of your business are in scale, parts of your business are in growth. You know, you might launch a new service and that might even be in the startup stage, parts of your business, for some of our members that are that organization is owned by partners, co-founders. You might have one co-founder who’s in the mid-sixties, and they’re in the exit stage because they want to retire. And you have another co-founder who’s still in their early 40s with kids getting ready to go to college, and they don’t even want to think about retiring. Right? So it’s it’s you always have one foot in one stage and one foot in the other stage. And Dave, I think you’re a great example of that. And I appreciate you coming on the call today. Share a little bit about your story. We’re going to double click on a lot of these things when we have the member Q&A session. I particularly want to talk in greater depth about what it means to start as the client and then become the service provider. That was the reason why I really wanted to speak to you. But I’m also going to talk about, you know, your own expanded ambition and your own journey on the lifecycle. So on behalf of the members, I appreciate you coming on today and sharing sharing part of the story with us. 

Dave Makerwich [00:17:09] Yeah, thanks for having me on board. It’s great. 

Greg Alexander [00:17:12] Okay. All right. A couple calls to action. So, if you’re listening to this and you’re not a member and you think you might want to be because you want to hang around with people like Dave, go to collect a 54.com and fill out an application, and we’ll get in contact with you. If you are a member, and you want to learn more about Dave story because you can probably see yourself in him quite a bit. Look for the meeting invite that will come out, and we’ll have a private one hour Q&A session with him on an upcoming Friday session. And if you’re not ready for either of those two things, you just want to learn more. I would point you towards my book. It’s called The Boutique How to Start Scale and Sell a Professional services Firm, written by yours truly, Greg Alexander. And you can find that on Amazon. But until next time, I wish you the best of luck as you attempt to grow, scale, and exit your firm.