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David C. Baker explains how new business can help account service manage clients well, resulting in lots of money and significant impact on the client. The control comes from your willingness to replace bad clients with clients who are a better fit.Download Podcast
What leads to business success? If you’ve ever gone back to your high school reunion, you’ve probably seen some surprise success stories and scratched your head while asking the same question. For small marketing firms, success typically follows one of two paths.Read More
The first step toward an improved business environment is stepping out of denial with a deep sigh of relief as you begin to use new found energy to fix the problems instead of mask them. We all have ways of talking about specific situations that make them a bit more palatable.Read More
I’m frequently asked how to fund growth. I’m going to answer that question here, too, but first I want to lay a foundation for why I answer that question a certain way. In the end you may disagree with me, which is fine, but you at least deserve more than just a simple answer.
Let’s first review our options for funding sources.
First, growth can be funded from ongoing operations. When more comes in than goes out, there’s a certain amount of leftover funds called profit, and that profit can be used to make investments in the future of a company. These investments may take the form of hiring an employee before you really need him or her, purchasing equipment for that employee, building out a nice new space, etc. The money to do these things isn’t missed because there’s plenty of money there in the form of ongoing profit.
Second, growth can be funded by deferring expenses. Even though you may be on the hook for certain obligations, you may decide to not pay them promptly, stretching the vendor out and using the money in other ways until new money comes in. So a client might prepay you for media expenses, but in this scenario you don’t set it aside for that media expense but instead use the funds to cover growth....Read More
A "client concentration" problem refers to having a single related source of work representing more than 25% of your gross profit (fees + markup income). That's usually the point at which the yellow light should blink on your financial dashboard. That same light should blink red if it moves to 35%, because my research shows that to be the median at which one-half of firms fail. In other words, one-half survive the loss of a client that represents ca. 35% and the other one-half fail. Maybe not immediately, but they can usually trace it back to that point if they were not prepared for it. This is meant to prepare you for it.
You either had, have, or will have a gorilla client. Don't be afraid of it, and don't say "no" to the work. A problem like this almost always comes from something great you've done and you deserve the accolades in the form of even more work. Don't get a huge head, though, because unusually high spikes in your top line revenue typically stem from a client concentration issue and not unusual and sudden strong new business skills.
First Step: Honesty
When I talk about this to clients, the first thing they always say is this: "Yes, but all this related work is coming from different departments, and even different contacts in the same department. In fact, they hate each other and we'd probably get more work if we lost one department!"
That's bullshit, if you'll pardon me, because it assumes....Read More
I don't think I've ever posted a blog entry this long, but if you read it like I did, you'll forget about time and be so engaged that you read it all. It's from a friend (Schuyler Brown) who consults out of NYC. She graciously allowed me to publish this. More about her work at the end. Broadly, the subject of this is money and life, and based on the questions I've been getting recently, many of you are thinking about just that.
Like many Americans post-recession, I've been taking a close look at my relationship to money. To my surprise, what started simply as a responsible exercise turned into a deeply instructive philosophical journey.
I'd been ignoring the task of addressing my ideas about money for years, hiding behind an image of myself as Bohemian, an artist, a spiritual aspirant. Money seemed something too concrete to factor into my flights of fancy. Even as an entrepreneur I never stopped to think much about money. I worried when I wasn't making it and was jubilant when I was...it was a roller coaster.
It was my daughter's birth two years ago that unexpectedly initiated a shift in my approach to money, because she shifted my entire perspective on the future. Her presence forced me to imagine a future I'd been happy to leave to chance. One day, exiting the subway on my way home, I caught myself with a furrowed brow worrying once again about the numbers in our bank accounts...this time with no regard for my own needs, but for hers alone. I heard a steely voice of resolve somewhere deep inside say, "I never want her to suffer the burden of financial strain." At that moment, I felt my actual walk change. I became more directed.
But it wasn't until an incident this summer....Read More
This manual, by David C. Baker, is the compilation of 16 years of analyzing 650+ firms. It contains 270 pages and sample financial statements and utilization forms, all in a handsome looseleaf format for years of use.Read More
This book is intended as a field guide for first time managers, or for managers who want to begin doing a better job. The author worked closely with 650+ companies and interviewed more than 10,000 employees, then summarized the findings in an interesting and imminently readable form. Read this book and you're likely to understand management and leadership like you never have before, but also learn very practical steps toward becoming a better manager.Read More
Edited by Steven Heller and published by Allworth Press, David C. Baker kicked off this book with the opening chapter, entitled "How Hard Can This Be, You Ask?Read More