OUR BLOG

LEADERSHIP

Ten Traits Of Organizationally Healthy Professional Service Firms
To Grow Your Professional Service Firm, Prize Culture Over Strategy
TP35: The One Tipping Point Mid-Size Service Firms Must Address To Keep Growing
Seven Reasons Most Mid-Size Service Firms Don’t Grow Very Much
Five Reasons Mid-Size Service Firms Need A New Leadership Operating Model
How Leaders Can Address The Growth Tipping Point For Mid-Sized Service Firms
Five Reasons Professional Service Leaders Should Prize EQ Over IQ
Why Mid-Size Service Firm Leadership Teams Need Collective Objectives To Grow
How To Grow Your Mid-Sized Service Firm: Jealously Protect Your Focused Energy
Why Professional Service Firms Should Consider Circle Of Seven Mentoring Networks
How A Leader’s Energy Field Impacts Team Productivity
Don’t Trade Misery For Money: How Professional Service Firms Can Leverage The Great Resignation
Strong Personality Vs. Strong Person: The Makeup Of A Leadership Council
Custer Or Marshall: Why Mid-Size Service Firms Must Choose Their Leadership Model
To Grow Your Mid-Size Professional Service Firm, Define And Defend Your Values
If You Want To Grow Your Mid-Size Service Firm, Establish A Formal Leadership Council
Want To Grow Your Professional Service Firm? Focus On The One
If You Want To Grow Your Midsize Professional Service Firm, Align Your Leaders
Why Midsize Service Firm Leaders Must Think Like Entrepreneurs To Grow
How To Grow A Mid-Size Professional Service Firm Today
Why It's Important For Great Leaders To Tell Great Stories
How Great Leaders Persuade Using Word-Pictures
How The Say-Do Ratio Influences Trusted Advisor Status And Profits
Why Service Firm Leaders Should Nurture The Entrepreneurial Instincts Of Their Top People

SALES

Five Strategies For Midsize Service Firms To Break Through Revenue Plateaus
How Pro Service Firms Can Fix The ‘Drop Everything — Chase Money’ Problem
Prospect, Originate, Navigate: How To Fill Your Professional Service Pipeline
To Grow Your Mid-Size Professional Service Firm, Think Carefully About Your Promise
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 7
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 6
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 5
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 4
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 3
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 2
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 1
How Mid-Size Service Firms Can Acquire Great New Clients On LinkedIn
Five Ways The Consultative Sale Improves Profits
How To Win The Complex Service Sale Consistently
Do You Choose Clients Or Do They Choose You?
How To Market & Sell Professional Services Today
How To Break The Grip Of Rainmaker Culture
How Content Impacts The Service Sale
How To Know When Prospects Are Ready
How To Pull Prospects Into Conversations
Nurture Organic Relationships Online
How To Build Relationships With Jaded Prospects
Do Prospects Want To Buy Or Be Sold?
Close Deals Faster Using Proof Statements
How To Get Mindshare With Busy Decision-Makers
How To Get Great Prospects Leaning In
How Digital Marketing Creates Sales Funnel Velocity
Digital Marketing Perfect For Complex Sales – Part 2
Digital Marketing Is Perfect For The Complex Sale
Your Best New Client Is Looking For You
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 3
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 2
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 1
Do This to Fill Your Sales Funnel
What You Must Do To Acquire New Clients
An Audience Of One
How to Attract New Ideal Clients
Are You A Content Marketer Or A Thought Leader?
Consider The Source: Theorist Or Practitioner
Why Pain Points Are Not Enough

MARKETING

How To Market Managed Services - Part 3
How To Market Managed Services - Part 2
How To Market Managed Services Today – Part 1
Why Service Firms Need A Multichannel Digital Marketing Strategy
Does Your Website Attract Ideal Clients?
Why Service Firms Need The Ultimate Digital Marketing Stack
The Myth Of The Time-Starved Service Buyer
Do You Choose Clients Or Do They Choose You?
How To Market & Sell Professional Services Today
Why You Need A Generous Brand
How Content Impacts The Service Sale
Are You Measuring Your Time Funnel?
How To Get Mindshare With Busy Decision-Makers
How To Get Great Prospects Leaning In
How Digital Marketing Creates Sales Funnel Velocity
Five Digital Marketing KPIs
Do Your Users Experience Content Regret?
Content Registrations Are Not Enough
Is Your Website Open For Business
How To Build A Great Digital Marketing Plan
Digital Marketing Perfect For Complex Sales – Part 2
Digital Marketing Is Perfect For The Complex Sale
The Value Of An Idea Driven Website
Who Benefits From Your Content?
Your Best New Client Is Looking For You
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 3
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 2
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 1
How To Get The Greatest Value From Content Marketing
Why You Should Absolutely Give Away Your Best Ideas
Do This to Fill Your Sales Funnel
What You Must Do To Acquire New Clients
An Audience Of One
How to Attract New Ideal Clients
Are You A Content Marketer Or A Thought Leader?
Consider The Source: Theorist Or Practitioner
Why Pain Points Are Not Enough
How To Nurture Ideal Prospects

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TP35: THE ONE TIPPING POINT MID-SIZE SERVICE FIRMS MUST ADDRESS TO KEEP GROWING

HOW YOU MANAGE TP35 WILL PROBABLY DETERMINE IF YOU BREAK THROUGH TO YOUR NEXT LEVEL OR NOT

Tipping points have been described as a moment of rapid change, when people’s behavior mysteriously shifts in a new direction for reasons that are hard to explain. Every service firm I’ve coached over the last 25 years has experienced tipping points. Most produce positive outcomes. But there is one tipping point I’ve seen that can become a huge barrier to growth if it is not anticipated and addressed intentionally.

Most mid-size service firms can grow consistently and often what feels like effortlessly up to a point. Usually, in my experience, something changes about the time they hire their 35th employee. I’ve come to call this TP35 (Tipping Point 35). Once an organization hits TP35, an almost imperceptible shift takes place and it becomes more debilitating with time. Here are the changes that usually occur right around the time a company hires their 35th employee.

  • Communication with the entire company becomes much more cumbersome and challenging.
  • Information doesn’t flow as quickly or easily as it used to as evidenced by leaders sometimes being the last to hear about certain events.
  • Competing ideas for where the company is going and what the company is trying to achieve show up in subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, ways in meetings and conversations.
  • Certain behaviors and attitudes that are not helpful become much harder to spot and more difficult to address.
  • Silos form between different teams, like finance, marketing, sales, delivery and others.
  • Proliferation of client contracts and engagement phases make it much more challenging to track overall client satisfaction.
  • Frustrations mount as people begin to say about other teams—I just wish they would do their job—as if they know what their job is.
  • Rolodexes run out. In some instances, organic growth stemming from the networks of key people is no longer consistently yielding new clients, leading to feast-or-famine cycles. In other words, they’ve come to the end of their rolodex and have no more people to call on.
  • Leaders openly disagree. For some firms, leaders struggle to agree about an array of important topics, which means decisions are delayed and once made, often poorly implemented with little gusto.

This Is An Internal Problem, Not External

You’ll notice that most of these issues are related to the internal operations of the business, not external factors like the market, industry or even the economy. In my experience, this is the fundamental nature of the problem. Something serious has changed inside the business and the leaders are struggling to figure out what it is and what to do about it. This does not mean that as leaders they’ve failed or even lost their mojo. It simply means that the Leadership Operating Model that worked yesterday is no longer effective for the business they run today.

So here is the heart and soul of my message. If you want to reignite growth or prevent stall-outs in the first place, you need to upgrade your Leadership Operating Model because you’ve outgrown the old one. That’s why growth has stalled out or why it will stall out—because of your leadership model. I’ve seen this time and time again.

A Leadership Operating Model that produces consistent growth up to the 35th employee will usually yield slow growth by the 50th employee and be in full-on stall-mode by the 60th employee. 

Why does this happen? Most firms with fewer than 35 employees can operate with an ad hoc leadership model. There are so few people that it’s relatively easy to be in contact with each other, to have meaningful dialogue and to quickly establish priorities and resolve problems. That’s pretty much how one of my former companies operated.

As a leadership team, we met weekly to discuss our operations, problems, wins and goals. In between those Friday meetings, we also spent time in each other’s offices and had informal dialogue. There was a lot of brainstorming and creative idea generation.

But as we grew, silos formed, informal dialogue dried up, schedules got tighter and we faced more problems, as a leadership team, than we knew how to solve. Once we added a couple more offices with employees in remote locations, things really changed and not for the better. The fun was gone.

Unhealthy competition between leaders started to take over. Politics ensued and pretty soon, our Friday meetings were spent trying to make sure our departments didn’t look bad. Optics became more important than results. TP35 had taken over and we didn’t even know it.

The Antidote To TP35

If TP35 stalls growth and degrades the fun factor, what do you do about it? The best solution I’ve seen is to upgrade your Leadership Operating Model. This has to do with the set of practices you use to lead the business, including:

  • Who is on the leadership team and how they came to be there.
  • How aligned you are, as leaders, about the future.
  • How often you meet, what you talk about and where you focus your energies.
  • How you make decisions and establish priorities.
  • How you communicate goals and values to your staff.
  • What you will, and will not, tolerate behaviorally.
  • How you handle strategic planning and what happens when thing don’t go to plan.
  • How you practice accountability for leaders and the rest of the team.

Mid-size service firms that intentionally craft their Leadership Operating Model for their new reality put themselves in the best position to keep growing and break through to their next level. Those who ignore TP35 are probably doomed for stall-outs and very slow growth. Please don’t make this mistake.

More Insights Here

I discovered TP35 after analyzing the growth arc of more than 70 mid-size service firms, those with 25-100 employees. The lessons learned from this analysis form the backbone of the counsel I offer in a free eBook called Ten Strategies For Mid-Sized Professional Service Firms To Break Through To Their Next Level. If you liked the ideas presented in this article, I know you’ll love the eBook.

About The Author

Randy Shattuck is a seasoned entrepreneur who works hand-in-hand with senior leaders of mid-size professional service firms to grow revenues, acquire clients, open new markets, increase profits and effectively position their brands.

OUR BLOG

LEADERSHIP

Ten Traits Of Organizationally Healthy Professional Service Firms
To Grow Your Professional Service Firm, Prize Culture Over Strategy
TP35: The One Tipping Point Mid-Size Service Firms Must Address To Keep Growing
Seven Reasons Most Mid-Size Service Firms Don’t Grow Very Much
Five Reasons Mid-Size Service Firms Need A New Leadership Operating Model
How Leaders Can Address The Growth Tipping Point For Mid-Sized Service Firms
Five Reasons Professional Service Leaders Should Prize EQ Over IQ
Why Mid-Size Service Firm Leadership Teams Need Collective Objectives To Grow
How To Grow Your Mid-Sized Service Firm: Jealously Protect Your Focused Energy
Why Professional Service Firms Should Consider Circle Of Seven Mentoring Networks
How A Leader’s Energy Field Impacts Team Productivity
Don’t Trade Misery For Money: How Professional Service Firms Can Leverage The Great Resignation
Strong Personality Vs. Strong Person: The Makeup Of A Leadership Council
Custer Or Marshall: Why Mid-Size Service Firms Must Choose Their Leadership Model
To Grow Your Mid-Size Professional Service Firm, Define And Defend Your Values
If You Want To Grow Your Mid-Size Service Firm, Establish A Formal Leadership Council
Want To Grow Your Professional Service Firm? Focus On The One
If You Want To Grow Your Midsize Professional Service Firm, Align Your Leaders
Why Midsize Service Firm Leaders Must Think Like Entrepreneurs To Grow
How To Grow A Mid-Size Professional Service Firm Today
Why It's Important For Great Leaders To Tell Great Stories
How Great Leaders Persuade Using Word-Pictures
How The Say-Do Ratio Influences Trusted Advisor Status And Profits
Why Service Firm Leaders Should Nurture The Entrepreneurial Instincts Of Their Top People

SALES

Five Strategies For Midsize Service Firms To Break Through Revenue Plateaus
How Pro Service Firms Can Fix The ‘Drop Everything — Chase Money’ Problem
Prospect, Originate, Navigate: How To Fill Your Professional Service Pipeline
To Grow Your Mid-Size Professional Service Firm, Think Carefully About Your Promise
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 7
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 6
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 5
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 4
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 3
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 2
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 1
How Mid-Size Service Firms Can Acquire Great New Clients On LinkedIn
Five Ways The Consultative Sale Improves Profits
How To Win The Complex Service Sale Consistently
Do You Choose Clients Or Do They Choose You?
How To Market & Sell Professional Services Today
How To Break The Grip Of Rainmaker Culture
How Content Impacts The Service Sale
How To Know When Prospects Are Ready
How To Pull Prospects Into Conversations
Nurture Organic Relationships Online
How To Build Relationships With Jaded Prospects
Do Prospects Want To Buy Or Be Sold?
Close Deals Faster Using Proof Statements
How To Get Mindshare With Busy Decision-Makers
How To Get Great Prospects Leaning In
How Digital Marketing Creates Sales Funnel Velocity
Digital Marketing Perfect For Complex Sales – Part 2
Digital Marketing Is Perfect For The Complex Sale
Your Best New Client Is Looking For You
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 3
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 2
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 1
Do This to Fill Your Sales Funnel
What You Must Do To Acquire New Clients
An Audience Of One
How to Attract New Ideal Clients
Are You A Content Marketer Or A Thought Leader?
Consider The Source: Theorist Or Practitioner
Why Pain Points Are Not Enough

MARKETING

How To Market Managed Services - Part 3
How To Market Managed Services - Part 2
How To Market Managed Services Today – Part 1
Why Service Firms Need A Multichannel Digital Marketing Strategy
Does Your Website Attract Ideal Clients?
Why Service Firms Need The Ultimate Digital Marketing Stack
The Myth Of The Time-Starved Service Buyer
Do You Choose Clients Or Do They Choose You?
How To Market & Sell Professional Services Today
Why You Need A Generous Brand
How Content Impacts The Service Sale
Are You Measuring Your Time Funnel?
How To Get Mindshare With Busy Decision-Makers
How To Get Great Prospects Leaning In
How Digital Marketing Creates Sales Funnel Velocity
Five Digital Marketing KPIs
Do Your Users Experience Content Regret?
Content Registrations Are Not Enough
Is Your Website Open For Business
How To Build A Great Digital Marketing Plan
Digital Marketing Perfect For Complex Sales – Part 2
Digital Marketing Is Perfect For The Complex Sale
The Value Of An Idea Driven Website
Who Benefits From Your Content?
Your Best New Client Is Looking For You
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 3
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 2
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 1
How To Get The Greatest Value From Content Marketing
Why You Should Absolutely Give Away Your Best Ideas
Do This to Fill Your Sales Funnel
What You Must Do To Acquire New Clients
An Audience Of One
How to Attract New Ideal Clients
Are You A Content Marketer Or A Thought Leader?
Consider The Source: Theorist Or Practitioner
Why Pain Points Are Not Enough
How To Nurture Ideal Prospects