Entrepreneurial Profile: The Central Firm – M2

The Central Firm, led by M2 (pronounced “Em-Squared”), evaluates and analyzes a company’s current operating expenses and recommends ways to reduce costs.

M2 is a native Delawarean. She graduated from the University of Delaware and Delaware State College. She is retired military and served in the Middle East for 20 years.

Upon her return to the US, M2 noticed discrepancies in the fine print in service contracts and agreements that didn’t align with the original sales promises. She saw the need for expense analysis for businesses and The Central Firm was created. The Central Firm is a boutique concierge consulting firm which offers tools and services to assist and support businesses by offering evaluative and metric driven advice. The Central Firm uses proprietary methodology that reviews, evaluates, and advises systematic strategies to improve operational effectiveness like cloud hosting, VoIP, water/sewer, managed services, etc.

M2 does acknowledge that her greatest challenge is getting past gatekeepers to the decision-makers in order to begin the process of presenting her success rates as a newly created, female, small technology business. The Central Firm has already proven a success rate for a current client by reducing their operating expenses by 27%.

The Central Firm aims to work with the State Department in the near future and when current projects can support it, she also plans to work with University interns to support clients. M2 says, “The EEC has provided us with invaluable advice and mentoring to help solidify our value proposition which has helped increase business opportunities. Since joining the EEC, we have made some great contacts that are sure to be rewarding in the near future.”

A Strategy to Exit

Written by Cheryl Beth Kuchler, CEO Think Tank

STRATEGY TO EXIT

Rich Manders of Freescale Coaching grew his company, iAutomation, to $12Million with $2.5M in EBITDA and sold 75% of the business back in 2007. Over the past decade the company has continued on a growth track reaching over $100M in 2016.

During the acquisition process, the acquiring Private Equity firm, Riverside Company, used the “SPARKLE” model as a checklist evaluate the company’s value. Each letter represents an aspect of your business that should “sparkle” and if your business doesn’t, the acquiring firm wins.

At the 2016 Harvard Innovation Symposium, Rich shared the model and explained how buyers use the checklist to determine the price of a business. HINT: The more a company SPARKLES, the more the right buyer is willing to pay.

I highly recommend watching the entire presentation – about 43 minutes. If you’re time-strapped, however, you can read a recap of what each letter stands for here.

Emerging Enterprise Center by the Numbers

 

The EEC is a business incubator that helps startups and small businesses learn essential entrepreneurial and business skills, grow their business, and develop a long-term sustainable model. The key elements of the incubator program include: one-on-one mentoring, coupled with business growth workshops. These are used to provide guidance and context to entrepreneurs and small businesses alike.

Since its inception in 2008, the Emerging Enterprise Center has worked with 38 companies generating over $61 Million in revenue and created 179 full time jobs in the County while they were in the incubator.

The EEC has 20 workshops/seminars scheduled for 2018.

The EEC uses the Growth Wheel to help mentor its participants. It is a toolbox built by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. It is designed around the four challenge areas of business (Business Concept, Business Organization, Client Relations, and Business Operations).  It is a systematic approach to help entrepreneurs build their business through an action –oriented process that stays true to the way most entrepreneurs think and work. The EEC has a certified Growth Wheel mentor on staff. Click here to see the program guide for the workshops.

Contact us at 302-737-4343 or info@EECincubator.com for more information on how you can get involved in the Emerging Enterprise Center.

Creating and Selling Value: Creating Value: Sales & The Value Pyramid

By Dora Cheatham, Emerging Enterprise Center

Going from supplying a product that meets basic customer expectations to contributing to a client’s organization can be hard to establish and even harder to maintain, but is an invaluable strategy for long term profitability. Keeping a customer requires the creation of a relationship of mutual trust and partnership that goes beyond supplying a quality product.

Seeking to create value and a sustainable competitive advantage is increasingly difficult in today’s data-filled environment. Buyers today are educated and savvy. In the B2B world, the buyer can be 60-65% through the purchase process before he or she even makes contact with an incumbent or potential vendor. They know what’s out there and what it costs so if all you have to offer is a product that meets specifications, then you have effectively created a situation where your only option is to sell on price—and the lowest price invariably wins. That also means that as soon as a competitor emerges with the same option at a lower price, then chances are that customer is lost to the newcomer. So how can you ensure that your customer remains loyal to your product and business?

Smart Buyers Seek Value

A truly smart buyer understands the value of a vendor that contributes to the smooth running of his or her business. If you can deliver a flawless product, on-time, every time, with excellent customer service, then it behoves him to use your product—because spending time dealing with vendor-related problems and quality issues costs money and impacts his own customer service and bottom line (think about the UPS “I’m happy” ads where department managers and customers are happy thanks to UPS Logistics).

By supplying a quality product with excellent customer service you have already established some level of competitive advantage. And many companies today provide good products with good service – it is a prerequisite to staying in business. To sustain that advantage however you need to continually climb the value pyramid and add to your product in terms of additional service and knowledge, eventually making a quantum leap to the peak of the value pyramid to establish yourself as more than a vendor, but a trusted strategic partner.

Can you help lower your customers’ costs or improve their productivity? Can you help them identify new products or markets? At an even broader level, can your customers call on you for advice on operational systems and processes or strategic direction? In other words, does your customer consider you a supplier or a partner?

Schematic adapted from Doyle P. and Stern P., Marketing Management & Strategy, 4th ed., Prentice Hall

 

As you climb the value pyramid, commoditization decreases and company and product value increases, with fewer competitors able to compete at the same level. The fundamental difference between the lower and upper levels of the pyramid is distinct: to be good at the former, the salesperson and business needs to have a top quality product to sell and needs to understand his product and his own business well.

To be good at the latter, the salesperson and business needs to have an understanding not only of his own product and business, but of his customer’s business as well. He needs to understand his customer’s individual and industry needs and must excel at consultative selling, offering solutions that are of mutual benefit to both organizations. Only then can you hope to ensure an enduring partnership and long term rewards.

You don’t close a sale; you open a relationship if you want to build a long-term, successful enterprise. Patricia Fripp.

Why Do Passionate Entrepreneurs Fail?

Written by Frank DeSantis, Certified Growth Wheel Trainer, Former Emerging Enterprise Center Program Director

The link below is to a great article in HBR on Passion vs. Preparedness, and reflects what I believe is the approach the Emerging Enterprise Center tries to take with their Incubator companies.

An entrepreneur has to have passion. It’s entirely too hard to start and run a business if you don’t absolutely love what you are doing! Apparently, according to this research, passion is a key ingredient to attracting attention of investors, especially novice investors, those typically found on crowdfunding sites.

Long term success, however, depends upon your ability to be prepared to scale the business. For that you need to have a vision (what do you want to be when you grow up), a game plan (strategy or business plan), and the processes and procedures to replicate what you do and how you sell. For more experienced investors, the passion and the concept may attract them initially, but they move quickly to determining how prepared they are for success; what is the experience of the management team; have they started a business before; is there a market; have they proved the concept?

At the Emerging Enterprise Center, they try to help you focus first on DRIVING YOUR BUSINESS (sales), while in parallel, developing the business skills and the policies/procedures to enable you to take advantage of opportunities that help you achieve your vision.

I believe you can have and, in fact, need both: PASSION AND PREPAREDNESS!

https://hbr.org/2015/07/for-founders-preparation-trumps-passion

Entrepreneurs! A Mentor can help you fast track your learning curve

Starting a business can be a daunting task! Ask any successful entrepreneur and they’ll tell you that they may have had a great idea, great enthusiasm and some great customers, but soon the reality hits…. There is more to running a business. It helps to have a support network, to help keep you focused on the things that will make your business successful.

The Emerging Enterprise Center at the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce offers assistance to early stage, start-up businesses in New Castle County and the greater Wilmington region. The incubator program helps nurture the entrepreneurial spirit while promoting economic development in New Castle County by providing affordable office space and business support services, as well as, training, mentoring and a network of professional advisors.

A key component of nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit is through the Mentor Program at the EEC. It is designed to provide participating companies in the EEC Small Business Incubator Program with job-specific guidance to fast track their learning curve.  The Mentors help the EEC Company Teams by keeping them focused on the important priorities, clearly articulating their business vision, challenging their benchmarks/milestones, developing and executing on action plans, and assisting them, where appropriate, with developing a network of contacts. Mentors are drawn from diverse business fields, and are experienced, well-qualified professionals, who can relate to the challenges facing early-stage companies. The Mentors have networks in the region and have volunteered to share their knowledge and expertise with Company Teams at the EEC.

Contact us today at 302-737-4343 or info@eecincubator.com to find out more about how we can help you and your business.