Month: September 2014

Are you making enough time for client development?

Posted on Updated on

I recently began a new client relationship with a partner who told me he hadn’t seen much growth in his practice over the past several years. However, unlike many of my clients who aren’t sure of why their practice growth has stalled, he knew precisely what was happening. He equated the stall in growth to his inability to spend time developing client relationships.

He went on to explain that his strategy for the past 15 years was to grow his client base “from within” and this had historically produced 10% growth per year. The source of the growth included cross-selling special projects, referrals to new clients, and growing the breadth, depth, and scope of his relationships.

So, I asked him why he hadn’t been able to continue to invest in his client base like he had in the past and he told me that a growth in partner administrative responsibilities was primarily to blame. So, knowing the obstacles, and the cause, we started working together to remove them so he could get back to enjoying 10% growth in his practice.

We set out to find about 100 hours that he could redeploy toward client development – this would give him the ability to visit with one or two clients per week, and should begin to fuel growth again. Not to mention, with a practice of about $1 million, and estimating 10% growth from this investment, these 100 marketing hours would loosely translate into a whopping $1000/hour, so he had solid justification these client development activities were more beneficial to the firm.

The first stop on our “road to 100” was leverage. Even though he felt that he was fully leveraging his practice, he found 15 tax clients that could be reviewed by someone else, saving him 30 hours. The next stop was time related to scheduling and logistics for the monthly partner meetings he hosted. We asked the office administrator to manage this process going forward and we estimated that was about 15 hours. Our last stop was billing and collections. He turned to the COO to help him become more efficient to shave valuable time from this monthly task and make the first and second call for any AR past 30 days. We estimated this would save 25 hours. Finally, we found that his investment in people issues had grown out of proportion and we re-sized this by deflecting and redirecting certain types of people issues to another partner. These final changes were estimated to save him 50 hours/year.

In total, we found about 120 hours of time savings that could be redeployed to client development activities. While these were simply estimates and were subject to change, he was determined to free himself from these less value added hours and adopted a new approach to evaluating administrative tasks. Plus, he was energized by the fact that he could get back to doing what resulted in growth for him in the past.

So what happened? Within three weeks on this new program, he sold a special project to a long-time client. The client was not only happy to see his accountant after a long hiatus, was thrilled that he was being a proactive advisor again.

New Bill To Help Female Entrepreneurs Gain More Loans and Federal Contracts Women’s Small Business Ownership Act of 2014 increases mincrolending and more

Posted on Updated on

On the heel of reports that women business owners still lag behind men in accessing loans and federal contracts, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) has introduced a bill that would reauthorize the women’s business center program of the Small Business Administration, and for other purposes. Senate Bill 2693: The Women’s Small Business Ownership Act of 2014 nearly doubles funding for Women’s Business Centers, increases federal contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses, and increases microlending.

“This is a big win and a milestone for the National Women’s Business Council, the movement, and the millions of women across the country. The Women’s Small Business Ownership Act of 2014 will open doors to more money, more contracting opportunities, and more training for women to start, grow, and scale their businesses. The Women’s Small Business Ownership Act of 2014 creates a pathway to success, and calls for much-needed remedies to the barriers and challenges that are realities for too many women,” said NWBC Executive Director Amanda Brown in response to the legislation.

As reported last month, the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship’s recent report revealed women-owned businesses represent a $3 trillion economic force and support 23 million jobs, that women-owned businesses still face significant barriers compared to their male-owned counterparts. “This is a sobering reality for countless women entrepreneurs. It is time to close the gender gap for women entrepreneurs. It is time to break through the 21st century glass ceiling,” Brown added.

Key components of the legislation include:

  • Reauthorize the SBA Intermediary Lending program — now a pilot program — to provide more women access to loans between $50,000 and $200,000. The legislation would allow Microloan lenders to increase lending capacity from $5 million to $7 million and improve the program to better meet borrowers’ needs through more flexible terms and expanded technical assistance. The Microloan program targets new and early-stage small businesses as well as borrowers with limited credit history who can’t receive financing from a traditional lending institution.
  • Allowing sole-source contracting for federal contracts awarded through the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract program, which would put women-owned businesses on equal footing with other disadvantaged groups in the contracting process. The legislation would change current law, and aims to help the federal government meet its goal of awarding 5% of contracts to women-owned businesses – a goal that has never been reached since it was established by legislation 20 years ago.
  • Increasing funding for the Women’s Business Center program to expand and improve counseling and training services. The program, overseen by SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership, issues grants to nonprofit centers that assist 150,000 clients annually and has helped women to access more than $25 million in capital in fiscal year 2013. The centers help address the unique challenges women entrepreneurs face, such as less capital to invest and responsibility for child care or elder care.