OUR BLOG

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
Quick Or Deep Content: Which Is Better For Professional Service Firms?
Most Leads Are Not Ready To Engage – But They Will Be

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
Can Service Pros Over 40 Succeed In Digital?
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
A New Website Won’t Bring You New Clients
Do You “Get” Digital Marketing? – Part 2
Do You Get Digital Marketing?
Who Benefits From Your Content?
Lead Nurturing Versus Content Marketing
Your Best New Client Is Looking For You
Make Your Website A New Client Driver
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
Quick Or Deep Content: Which Is Better For Professional Service Firms?

REGISTER FOR BLOG

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

WHY SERVICE FIRM LEADERS SHOULD NURTURE THE ENTREPRENEURIAL INSTINCTS OF THEIR TOP PEOPLE

THIS EMPOWERS YOU TO RETAIN TOP TALENT WHILE ALIGNING THEM TO YOUR VISION

Originally published on Forbes.com

I believe there are two very important reasons professional service firm leaders should nurture, and even actively coach, the entrepreneurial instincts of their top people: retention and alignment.

Retention is about creating an environment where your best and brightest feel inspired to achieve their full potential. Alignment is about coaching your top people to think and act like entrepreneurs, so your interests and their interests align.

In my estimation, after having served more than 50 midsized professional service firms for more than 20 years, the absence of entrepreneurial coaching is one of the major reasons most service firms grow very little or very slowly. It seems that many firm leaders, especially founders, fear that if they pull back the curtain and show their top people what it takes to run a company, those people will leave, potentially to start competitive firms.

I believe the exact opposite is true. If you show your people what it means to be an entrepreneur and what it takes to run a professional service firm, they will stay. More importantly, I believe they will become better employees because they will have a deeper appreciation for the risks you take as an entrepreneur. Better still, if you coach them in entrepreneurship and give them opportunities to stretch their wings, they will begin to think and act like you, making your relationships stronger.

Why Top People Leave

Nearly any professional service firm that exceeds $5 million in annual revenue relies on top people. While founders provide vision and passion, it takes top people to make those dreams a reality — usually through hard work over years of faithful service.

These individuals are reliable, talented and well versed in the technical disciplines of the profession, and they typically demonstrate a capacity to grow and adapt to the changing needs of the business over time. These are your most trusted employees. They are invaluable. This is why losing them is so painful.

In my experience, top people leave to do one of two things: start their own firm or move into a position of greater responsibility at another firm. Both of these urges can be satisfied, in most cases, by coaching people to become entrepreneurial. Below I outline some practical ways to do this.

Before we look at those techniques, let’s get right to the heart of why most top people leave — the motives. While they might take another job or start their own firm, usually they are doing so because they believe they have never achieved their full potential. They have an itch. I have heard this time after time when coaching top people who are flight risks.

They have ideas they want to try. They have instincts that have guided their decisions and have likely benefitted your business. They may be bored in their current roles. But most importantly, especially for the truly entrepreneurially minded of the group, they are ready to take risks. They want to bet on themselves. These are the people you really don’t want to lose because they are likely the future leaders of your firm. They might even be the ones who buy out your equity so you can retire comfortably.

How Entrepreneurs And Employees Think About Risk Differently

In my experience, employees and business owners think about risk differently. Entrepreneurs who’ve been through both expansion and constriction cycles know the joy of winning and the pain of losing. But if you were to ask a seasoned entrepreneur which had a greater impact on them — winning or losing — I would wager they would say losing.

Entrepreneurs know that the next down-cycle could put their business into an uncontrollable downward spiral. The effect could be the irrecoverable loss of multigenerational wealth. This is what they are risking — complete financial ruin that impacts them, their heirs and their dreams for the future.

Employees, on the other hand, typically have not experienced that level of risk. Their biggest risk, if their employer fails, is that they’ll have to get another job. I call this TBJ: time-between-job risk.

Here is my thesis: It is virtually impossible for someone who has only ever experienced TBJ risk to understand complete-financial-ruin risk. Bold people who want to bet on themselves consistently underestimate the pain and stress of navigating a downward spiral. They will only understand this once they’ve been through it. But by then, you will have lost them.

How To Nurture The Entrepreneurial Instincts Of Your Top People

The best way I’ve found to retain top people who are inclined toward risk-taking is to give them a P&L and a team to manage and grow. Give them the feeling of freedom to make their own choices without the risk of complete personal financial ruin. But hold them accountable.

The starting point for this process is to have them formally answer five questions:

  1. How will you acquire clients?
  2. How will you earn revenue?
  3. How will you cover payroll and other expenses (office, computers, travel) for your team?
  4. What do you intend to do if your expenses exceed your income?
  5. What will it take to post a profit?

These are the top five questions that entrepreneurs in the services industry have to answer every day. I know this probably sounds like really simple stuff. But I am amazed by how little attention these questions seem to get from people who are thinking about starting their own business or jumping ship to run a department at another company.

As soon as an employee has to start answering these questions, establishing priorities, managing people, satisfying clients and producing financial results for the organization, their attitude seems to change. They gain a new sympathy for what the business leaders have to deal with. They become more collegial to the leaders.

This relationship is made even stronger if the business leaders provide coaching along the way. If an employee who carries a P&L can routinely pick the brains of an experienced entrepreneur, they will thrive even more.

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

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
Quick Or Deep Content: Which Is Better For Professional Service Firms?
Most Leads Are Not Ready To Engage – But They Will Be

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
Can Service Pros Over 40 Succeed In Digital?
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
A New Website Won’t Bring You New Clients
Do You “Get” Digital Marketing? – Part 2
Do You Get Digital Marketing?
Who Benefits From Your Content?
Lead Nurturing Versus Content Marketing
Your Best New Client Is Looking For You
Make Your Website A New Client Driver
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
Quick Or Deep Content: Which Is Better For Professional Service Firms?