Small & Mid-Market 2018 Planning Workshop | Got Goals? | I’m a “seasoned” (A.K.A. “old”) CEO/COO/CRO - AMA!

Karrie Sullivan
Dec 1, 2017

Small & Mid-Market 2018 Planning Workshop:  What are your 2018 goals? How do you start the revenue engine for your company? When should you hire?When should you develop new products? What happens to your operations & fulfillment when your company doubles/triples revenue? Will the team that got you here keep you here or get you where you need to be?Does your team have the tools they need to be successful?

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Conversation (39)

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Do you know of any programs that are designed to act as mentorship opportunities for young companies? Similar to Y Combinator, but I'm more focused on the experiential guidance vs loans/ financial incentives. (Although those help too.)

Dec 4, 12:02AM EST0

Hi, Micah! Where are you located? Here in Chicago we have a program like this at 1871 (and other similar organizations that cater to start ups).

The mentor program at 1871 allows member companies to tap into marketing, operations, finance, legal, and other mentor resources.  I believe there are other, similar programs in other cities with a decent start up community.

Similarly - what’s your advisor strategy? Advisors and advisory board members can be an important part of a fledgling company’s success given their connections to industry, doors they can kick down, etc.

Dec 4, 9:03AM EST1

Hi Karrie. We’re based out of Rochester, Ny and do know there is a program in Buffalo. 

Also right now I guess there hasn’t been much of a strategy Regarding advisers. Do you have any suggestions of how to go about this? We have been getting help from those who volunteer who happened to be involved in our industry.

Dec 5, 10:05PM EST0

What advise would you give to those want to venture in business?

Dec 2, 9:35PM EST0

Hi, Cessmee -

Get some experience. Find a problem that you’re uniquely good at solving. 

What are you parrionate about?

Dec 3, 12:47PM EST0

How did you get the idea?

Dec 1, 12:31PM EST0

Hi, Ana - idea for what ma’am? I’m just helping make other people’s ideas come to fruition. :)

Dec 1, 2:27PM EST0

How do you match up operations and revenue in a business?

Dec 1, 10:32AM EST0

I start with the P&L (or something close to it pending where the company is in their lifecycle and accounting sophistication).

At a high level are costs in line with revenue? Then I start to dig and ask “why?” about a million times until I understand the health and pace of revenue and the costs/effort/people associated with delivering what the customer expects.  It all comes back to the customer and finding that balance point between serving well and profitability.

It’s something most companies struggle to manage - especially as they attempt to scale. How do you manage it?

Last edited @ Dec 1, 10:40AM EST.
Dec 1, 10:38AM EST0

What should a business consider in planning for 2018?

Dec 1, 10:15AM EST0

Start with the goals:

How much revenue? From what markets/customers/products?

Then define the strategies, tactics, cost, and resources (money/people/time) required to hit your targets. 

Dec 1, 10:33AM EST0

Does your team have the tools they need to be successful?

Dec 1, 10:07AM EST0

I like to think so. That said - the day I stop asking that question is the day I fail as a leader.

How do you solve for this?

Dec 1, 10:31AM EST0

How did you get started?

Dec 1, 9:53AM EST0

Good morning! Like many people - I evolved into it. I was recruited into consulting by CapGemini around 2001 but had been working with car dealer financials and business plans for years from my time at Ford/Nissan/Infiniti. I just kept gravitating toward harder challenges and work I liked when the opportunities were presented.  It also means I worked for a LOT of different companies (there’s good and bad in that). 

Dec 1, 10:30AM EST0

Will the team that got you here keep you here or get you where you need to be?

Dec 1, 1:28AM EST0

Hi, Todd - that’s a question for You guys as you do your business planning. What are your thoughts?

The premise is that the team needed for one growth stage might not be the same in the next one. Example: the team we recruit to help build a start-up company isn’t necessarily the same talent or team needed to maintain large or mid-market company with a strong market position but hefty profitability goals.

Last edited @ Dec 1, 8:57AM EST.
Dec 1, 1:42AM EST0

How long have you been doing these kinds of jobs?

Dec 1, 12:49AM EST0

Hi Dennis - I started consulting about 17 years ago. Since then I’ve taken somewhat interim roles with companies as an employee as well as client work if I’m able and the work doesn’t present a conflict of interest.

Where are you in your career? Are you freelancing? Or building a company?

Last edited @ Dec 1, 12:55AM EST.
Dec 1, 12:54AM EST0

How many companies have you helped ever since you started working in this field?

Dec 1, 12:45AM EST0

Hi, Donald - personally I’ve worked for too many companies to count. :) 

Since I started consulting and doing interim work - my guess is 35-40. (That just means I’m not young anymore...) :)

What are you working on? 

Last edited @ Dec 1, 12:58AM EST.
Dec 1, 12:52AM EST0

How long do you work for a company before considering working with another one?

Dec 1, 12:42AM EST0

Hi, Paul - I find that the problem and the ability to fund the solution dictates time. PE and VC backed companies are able to grow and change a bit faster than those that are funding their change from cash flow. What might take 6 months for a company that can fund their growth might take a year for a company that needs to build revenue velocity before investing in other projects. 

My job history is generally 2 -4 years with a company. My consulting histiey is typically 90 days to 2 years with a client depending on what’s needed.

Is your question focused more on company staffing? Or your own career? 

Last edited @ Dec 1, 12:48AM EST.
Dec 1, 12:47AM EST0

How many companies can you work on, simultaneously?

Nov 30, 11:11PM EST0

Hi, Heenal - We’re a boutique firm with a solid crew of current and former executives in Sales, Marketing, Finance, Operations, and HR to draw from so we’re staffed to handle many clients at a time if needed. We have the infrastructure to scale but given the complexity of some of the digital transformations we handle - we are very careful to focus on our clients’ success more than our own. 

This isn’t about my business - it’s about yours. What are you struggling with as you think about your plan for next year?

Dec 1, 12:39AM EST0

Which company were you working on as your first reputable project?

Nov 30, 8:38PM EST0

Oooh - that’s tough. I’d say cars.com. I was one of the first 50 employees and built the B2B brand (US car dealers) - among wearing 1000 other hats. 

What projects are you proud of?

Last edited @ Dec 1, 12:40AM EST.
Nov 30, 9:26PM EST0

Which company is your latest success and what was your exceptional accomplishment while with them?

Nov 30, 7:35PM EST0

Hola, Geekme friend!

I’m just about to finish re-organizing a company. They asked me to get their revenue rocking so I hired a new sales team, added marketing, added CRM/tech infrastructure and process - that will net them 20% in new revenue growth this year. I then started working operations and account management. Applying focus to both service excellence and revenue growth will net another 25% revenue growth in the next 6 months. I’m now working on accounting/HR/cost controls so they can scale. I’m also helping them build IIoT tech that will ultimately staff a dev team, become equipment agnostic, etc. (Sorry I can’t divulge the client due to heavy competition in their space.)

What are you trying to accomplish next year?

Last edited @ Dec 1, 12:41AM EST.
Nov 30, 9:19PM EST0

Do you have any website for us to check your handiworks?

Nov 30, 5:09PM EST0

I’ve been lucky enough to build my business so far by referral and word of mouth. I’m LITERALLY in the process of developing the site (myself via squarespace) now. No - I shouldn’t be doing it myself but I’m a control freak. Admitting it is the first of at LEAST 12 steps. www.culminatestrategy.com

Nov 30, 9:05PM EST0

What happens to your operations & fulfillment when your company doubles/triples revenue?

Nov 30, 3:37PM EST0

Hi, Jesa - It depends on the company and how the product is produced. Example - for light manufacturing double production is typically not an issue. It’s triple where they start to see growing pains. Meanwhile - field service and technical fulfillment teams are swamped as you near double. Customer experience is paramount so finding that balance between making sure you have enough staff to onboard and execute (but not TOO many) is key. We don’t want bored people. :)

On the accounting, HR, and finance side - things change quickly as you near $10m and 50 people (especially in the US) where you need to comply with FMLA and other regulations - then again at $25m and $50m where processes can tend to get out of control if you’re not careful. Cost controls built to scale are essential... 

Nov 30, 8:59PM EST0

How many members of the team do you have?

Nov 30, 10:11AM EST0

Hi, Carla! Depends on the project. I’m an independent with a merry band of talented freelancers. If I’m working for a company my team is typically between 5 and 50.

What kind of teams are you building right now?

Last edited @ Dec 1, 12:42AM EST.
Nov 30, 8:53PM EST0

Do you have international affiliations?

Nov 29, 9:19AM EST1

Hi, Sonia! The world seems to get smaller and smaller every year. My clients are in North America, Europe, and Asia. I work with/source technologists and data scientists from all over the world depending on the need. Does that answer your question?

Last edited @ Nov 29, 4:25PM EST.
Nov 29, 4:24PM EST0

What should be the factors that can greatly affect the viability of the business especially during the initial stages?

Nov 29, 1:44AM EST1

Hi, Marsha - it varies a lot depending on the offering/solution/product and the audience it’s meant to serve. The bottom line really? The CEO’s ability to focus and tenaciously get that solution to a minimum viable state, validate, and quickly pivot to revenue (depending on their funding). 

Where are you on the viability timeline?

Last edited @ Dec 1, 12:43AM EST.
Nov 29, 2:10AM EST0
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