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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 are the characteristics of a leader that others want to follow?As you’ll soon see, this list is a very personal one. In other words, we’d all come up with different elements when building the list. What I’ve tried to do, though, is to think of a complete leader. So I’ve asked myself this question: can I imagine a leader who isn’t fair, for instance. The answer is obviously no. Each one of these, then, describes a leader’s characteristics, any one of which might hinder their effectiveness if missing in any significant proportion. What I’d encourage you to do--maybe even before you read this list--is to first make up your own list and compare it with mine. (These are not presented in any particular order.)Read More
As you grow, what transitions are useful and even expected? Let’s look at a few that you’ll almost certainly encounter and help you see what might be on the other side of the transition.
One: Hiring for Expertise vs. Money
The first good transition to make is to begin hiring people for their expertise rather than for what they cost you. In the early days, you have a budget and you hire accordingly. You aim for whatever you can get for that price, and that’s the best you can do. There simply isn’t any more money, and expertise takes a back seat to available funds.
Eventually, though, you determine that expertise is more important than money. So you outline what you’re looking for in great detail and you don’t settle for less. You have a budget in mind, but the budget takes a back seat to the requirements for expertise. That means you may bust the budget. But in this scenario, one very qualified person may actually be equally as effective as two less qualified individuals.
Two: From Judging to Shaping
The second good transition to make is to move from judging to shaping the work underneath....Read More
Positioning decisions probably last longer than most marriages, so let's get it right! Ignoring the dozens of nuances to consider, for a moment, let me help you think through the biggest issue: the pros and cons of positioning your firm vertically or horizontally. I'll start with vertical because the vast majority of firms who are positioned well have a vertical positioning. These are the four advantages of vertical positioning.
First, verticial positioning makes it so much easier to find your prospects. Whether you buy a list of prospects or not, think of it like this: can you buy a list. Conversely, if you cannot buy a list, you are likely going to struggle finding your prospects. That's because your targets don't share sufficient characteristics to be on the radar of the world trying to sell things to them, and from their point of view, their problems aren't so unique that they value working with an agency that specializes in solving them. If you can't buy a list, you are looking for a group of prospects that nobody else thinks is worth tracking.
Second, vertical positioning benefits from decision makers who...Read More
In the last blog, I covered the four advantages of vertical positioning. I want to finish that series by covering the four advantages of horizontal positioning.
As before, you can derive more value from this exercise by flipping each advantage around. For example, a primary advantage of vertical positioning is being able to locate your prospective clients. Flipping that around, a primary disadvantage of horizontal positioning is that it's hard to find your prospective clients because you usually can't purchase a list of them. Very few agencies who are positioned horizontally are also successful, but there are nevertheless many advantages and it is worth your consideration.
First, horizontal positioning brings more variety. This is in fact why eighty-five percent...Read More
As a leader, your job is to make decisions. There are other things, too, but that is your main job.
Warring against that, possibly, is your fear of making the wrong decision. Rest assured in knowing that there is greater long-term potential harm in not making decisions than there is in making wrong decisions.
So to be an effective leader, try to master the timing of your decisions rather than the criteria for your decisions.
Key Times to Make Decisions
So, when should you make a decision? Here are the four most important times to make a decision:
- When you see an opportunity you're small enough to pounce on. This is usually an opportunity that the big firm has to study, meet about, appoint a committee, assess the risks, get funding approval, and then build consensus around three times per week for five months. There are significant advantages around scale, but being nimble is not one of them.
- When your people are...
I've been offering business insight to help experts achieve higher financial performance, manage people better, staff appropriately, and provide services that their clients value. In the last 20+ years of doing this, I've observed a few practices that contradict expertise. Here are some things that I notice experts doing that seem to contradict how they want us to see them.
- Be Too Busy to Articulate Thought Leadership There are all sorts of reasons why experts don't write and speak, but none of them are legitimate. If you don't have the time, you aren't making enough money. If you don't know what to say, you aren't an expert. If you don't know how to say it, you haven't practiced enough. If you find too many audiences when directing your writing, you haven't focused enough. Aside from the content itself, having the time to write it sends just as powerful a message.
- Be Immediately Accessible to the Client Whether misguided or not, developed cultures prefer that their experts be largely...
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