Michelle Coyle is president of BGSD Strategies, where she provides strategic advice for political business owners. Have a question about your business? Email her directly at email@example.com and she’ll answer them here.
Q: I’m thinking about making professional New Year’s resolutions for the first time. Do you have any advice on what those should be? I’m open to suggestions.
A: Let’s do an exercise: Grab a pen and a notepad. Close your eyes and imagine a movie screen in front of you. On that screen is playing a movie of your perfect professional life, one year from now. See yourself in the movie.
Step into the scene, looking through your own eyes. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you feel? Really experience the scene. Make it very real for yourself.
Open your eyes and write about your movie, including as many details as you can. What sounds did you hear? What colors did you see?
Pick one word that describes how you feel when you’re in your movie. This is the feeling you’re seeking. How will you get to it?
Your New Year’s resolutions will flow easily and effortlessly onto the page now.
Q: My firm is losing out on business to larger rivals. How can we get more competitive, if we can’t beat them on price?
A: It’s time to work on your brand positioning.
First, understand that there are infinite ways to differentiate yourself from your competition. Price is just one of them, and a rather boring one at that. Moreover, when firms begin to compete on price in such a small industry, it tends to result in prices being driven down across the board, which creates a losing situation for everybody. Even the biggest political consulting firms aren’t big enough to operate at the scale at which competing on price makes sense in the long run.
Instead, think about what you can do, what you love to do, and what your competition can’t or won’t do. Especially consider the competitive advantages being small affords you.
Maybe your clients get more access to senior strategists than they would at a larger firm. Perhaps you’re able to turn around work more quickly than an organization that has more complex systems and layers of checks in place can.
If you want to do a guided strategic deep dive on this, get in touch with me.
Q: I’m looking to buy another company to help mine grow in the New Year. What’s the best way to prepare for an acquisition?
A: We could get deeply nerdy here about all of the various financial metrics you could be looking at when making a decision about whether to buy a specific company, but the truth is that if you’re the right firm to make that acquisition, all of those metrics will vastly improve within a year regardless.
Instead, let’s modify a framework outlined by entrepreneur Gino Wickman in his book Traction:
- Do you get it?
- Do you want it?
- Can you do it?
In other words, when considering any company for acquisition, you must have:
- A deep understanding of what they do and why.
- The desire to provide those specific services to your clients.
- The ability to execute those services at a level of excellence that matches your existing work.
Take your time with this. Once you’ve zeroed in on a specific type of company you’d like to acquire and you initiate talks, you’ll enter due diligence mode and start gathering detailed data about their financials, operating systems, staff, and everything else involved in their current operation. From there, you’ll begin working through what it could look like to roll their business into yours in each of those areas. Your financial forecast modeling should show how the investment will pay off for your firm’s bottom line, and how quickly.
A word of caution: don’t even think about embarking on anything like this without your lawyer and your accountant. You’ll also need to find an independent valuation expert who can value the potential acquisition for you. You’ll all be working closely together as a team to make this happen.
Above all, be patient. Doing this correctly takes time.