Your Niche is "Businesses With Cash" (or How To Safely Implement Serving a Niche)

Posted by JasonBlumer on Apr 28, 2016 in

Let's explore what a niche is. I guess a niche could be anything, but frankly there are some stupid niches. If your niche is "Clients Who Repair Mars Rover Vehicles" then you are going to go broke. It's not a broad enough market for you to serve.It seems obvious, but it's important to first define your niche as "People with Cash." When discussing a niche, most of the time we focus on the horizontal (the limited services you offer) or the vertical (the limited industry you serve). But if I had a preference, I want to focus on industries or offer services to people that have the ability to make a lot of money.When clients have a lot of money in the bank, they have an uncanny ability to find you more valuable than people with no money. Make sense?So you need to ask these three…

ReBuilding a Technical Process

Posted by JasonBlumer on Apr 19, 2016 in

Similar to our clients, our firm has a technical process that is difficult to wrangle. Our design and agency clients have technical processes that involve design and development. One of our internal technical processes is related to tax. I want to explore how we are working through the difficulties of our technical process, but first let me ask 'what makes a process technical?'1. A person with specific technical abilities has to complete the process (or at least a large share of it). You can't just delegate it to anyone.2. There is some level of difficulty in trying to understand the work being completed. A technical process manages a hard thing that only certain people can understand.3. It's often not easily understood by clients. Frankly, its not their job to understand it, but still, misunderstandings from clients is sometimesa reason why a technical process is hard to manage.4.…

Becoming Aware of Your Lenses

Posted by JasonBlumer on Apr 11, 2016 in

I was reading a book from a Christian psychologist recently and he made two profound statements about humans that affect how we view the world:1. As humans, we were made to make sense of the world around us. Thus, we are always responding to our world from our interpretation of the facts, not necessarily the facts themselves.2. We are our own biggest influencers of the sense we make of the world around us, because we are always preaching to ourselves.As I interpret these statements for myself, I see that I live in this world with lenses on. It's okay. We all do it. In fact, we have to do it if we are to make sense of what we see day to day. But it is very important to know exactly what types of lenses we have on. If we are unaware of the lenses we view our world…

Whom You Serve Dictates How You Serve

Posted by JasonBlumer on Apr 5, 2016 in

We all get into habits of taking clients just for the cash flow. This can work short term, but eventually growing agencies or firms must create specific intentionalplans for how they will grow. Once you have a team and are relying on them to serve your customers, you will find that accidental growth will bite you in the butt. This is because subjecting your team to serving the wrong clients, or arbitrary clients, confuses your service processes and makes your team wonder what the purpose of each client is. A strong team needs to align a client with some type of espoused internal purpose.In particular, you lock your company into old, broken, or ineffective service models when you allow your company to serve just anybody. If you fail to be strategic about the clients you keep on your client roster, they will ultimately dictate how you serve…

No One Has it Figured Out (Interview on the Matt Report)

Posted by JasonBlumer on Mar 31, 2016 in

I was excited to be interviewed on the Matt Report podcast recently, andwe talked about how to build a design agency. The conversation eventually got to how this web/design profession reveres other agencies. The design/agency world is very shiny, and everything looks very pretty. Nice brands, websites, and wonderful web copy. But these don't build a business. They are part of how you sell, but running a business is much more complicated than the exterior paint.Few build agencies well because it is so complex.Instead of talking about how to build an agency, let's just remember that no one has it figured out. In fact, running a good business means you are operating in an experimental way. You are trying new things, experimenting with new services, and seeking to increase your value (and prices). Some things work, others do not. That is how you build…

A Letter to Myself When I Was 32

Posted by JasonBlumer on Mar 22, 2016 in

I'm coming up on 13 years of leading my firm, and at 45 years old I've learned a thing or two about running a business. I started running the firm when I was 32, and I thought it would be fun to write myself a letter with advice and encouragement about what's ahead.Jason,Congratulations on taking the leap to run your own company. I know you've wanted to do this many times before, but your wife was right - you weren't ready until now. The excitement you feel today doesn't ever really go away because every day is a new frontier. Everyday is a new challenge, just the thing you were made to enjoy. There will be hard times ahead, but those will be offset with exciting wins for your firm. And they will come when you least expect them.There were a few things you did right, but you…

Partner Tensions

Posted by JasonBlumer on Mar 18, 2016 in

One fear of adding a partner to your business may be the tensions that you will feel with gettingtwo people on the same page. The direction of your company will no longer depend just on you - now, two people have to agree to the path forward. Though this brings fear, it can also be your greatest advantage if both partners are on the same page.To put this in perspective, think of growing your business as your attempt to get to a particular destination. You have to know where you are going. Many business owners struggle with this. They hope good things will happen, but fail to write down what they want to achieve in 5 years. It's important to write down your goals and vision for where you want to be.Once you bring a partner into your company, it's important that you both agree to work…

Conducting Client Retreats

Posted by JasonBlumer on Mar 15, 2016 in

Conducting retreats for our clients is one of our favorite things to do. It can totally change the vision or path that a company is growing, or just solidify the team's strength. We've even conducted retreats virtually, but the onsite retreat is usuallythe most effective.Here is our process to create these retreats for our clients:Prepare the client. This applies to most consulting work we do with a client. Consulting and retreats are a more sensitive and intimate service. Trust is a huge part of what we need to pull off an effective client retreat. We prepare the client in a few ways. We may have each team member fill out a question survey (much like this one) that has been specifically crafted for this company. You'll note in the survey that we tell them very clearly that the answers from the survey will NOT be shared…

3 Pillars of Financial Numbers

Posted by JasonBlumer on Mar 8, 2016 in

As an extension of a blog post I wrote a few weeks ago, I want to highlight 3 pillars of financial numbers, and what you should use them for in your company.Pillar #1: AccountingThe first pillar is your accounting. This is the foundation, and you can't implement the next two pillars without first getting this one right. Owners can understand many important things about their businesses when their accounting is solid. Here are a few: - timely accounting helps you plan accurate tax payments, - looking at the trends of your accounting help prove your profitability, and - well laid out financial statements (the things that accounting creates) can tell you who owes you money, and who you owe money to.If you are not committed to keeping your accounting up to date, then you are already behind. Few business owners keep their own books well, nor have the acumen to…

You Can't "Pick My Brain"

Posted by JasonBlumer on Mar 1, 2016 in

I get this request often - "do you have a few minutes so I can pick your brain about..." No, you can't.I couldn't actually spend time with my family and the clients and teamI lead if I let everyone pick my brain. There is risk in saying no to this request. We all want people to like us.But it is a low risk and one I am committed to taking. It could be someone that wants to be my client, or give me millions of dollars. But probably not.This used to be okay when all we sold was "work." But in this digital age, we sell our "knowledge." In effect, we sell our brains. So asking to pick my brain is saying "can I have your services for free?" No, no you can't.…