Your next opportunity may be right under your nose. When people with common values and objectives—coachable individuals with unique expertise come together, they can deliver value in a very short timeframe.
Eighteen months ago, four of us formed a new advisory firm, “ATVM – A Third View Medical. The reasons we believed this was the right thing to do may have broad implications for other new and established companies.
At the early stages of a business, the team is certainly the most important element. It can be argued that it’s ALWAYS the most important element. Examine your team. Ask yourself if the other founders share the same values:
- Trust and knowledge of one another
- A high level of ethical competence
- A strong work ethic
- A high standard of performance
- An unquestioned desire to deliver value to the client
You might identify other values than these, but it’s important that the ENTIRE TEAM hold them in common and hold them passionately. Three of our partners knew each other from their association with IMC, the Institute of Management Consultants, so we had time to build relationships, observe, and be sure of one another.
Ask yourself: “Does my team share common values? Am I sure?” If the answer is YES, then you have a key element to a great organization.
Does your team share common goals? Our company is a consultancy. Each of us is committed and determined to add value to clients in three fundamental ways:
- By helping them grow revenue
- By improving operating efficiency
- By utilizing capital resources more effectively
Between us, there is no argument over these goals; we all share them in a profound way.
Ask yourself: “Can I honestly say that my entire team shares common goals? Am I sure?” If the answer is YES, you have another of the key elements to a great organization.
Complimentary Skill Sets
Recently, one of my respected friends, Bill Burnett, challenged me rather directly. He asked the reason the business was formed. That may seem on the surface an innocuous question but knowing Bill, I appreciated the depth of his challenge. It made me pause.
I reflected back on how one of our partners, Bill Pierrakeas, once asked if we had the right team assembled. That question had caused us to come together in a serious way. At that time, we identified three fundamentals that challenged the “why” of our existence. In other words, what made us think that our TEAM offered something significant? I believe these three questions are important to all companies.
- First: Does the majority of the team have significant experience in the industry?
- Second: Does each team member bring a distinct and unique skill set to the table that can be leveraged for the benefit of the organization as a whole?
- Third: Are all the key roles filled?
In our case the answer was, “Yes,” and, “Yes,” and unfortunately, “No.”
- YES—Three of us come with an experience in consultancy in the same industry – health care. That puts us in a strong position to help those companies we intend to serve.
- YES—Each of us come with distinct and separate subject matter expertise. That makes for a situation where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The members build on each other and the team can leverage its skills.
- NO—After we identified the fundamentals, the partners realized very quickly that we lacked one ingredient crucial to our kind of organization—experience in transaction advisory. In our case, two of us knew a person to fill that role—a person we could trust—one we had watched in action over time—a person that brought the same values to the table. For us, it was an easy choice. Fortunately, that person agreed to come onboard.
Ask yourself: “Can I honestly say that my team is strong in its industry? Do the members offer complimentary skill sets? Is the team complete? Am I sure?” If the answer is yes, then you have another of the key elements to a great organization.
Getting Good Guidance
With a foundation of strong values, strong goals and complimentary skill sets, the real work of building the business began. For the next four months, we met weekly to hone our value proposition and prepare for our announcement or coming out party.
For that event, we gave each partner an assignment: Bring industry practitioners to the table. Yes, we set ourselves up to get shot down. The night before the event, I recall a heightened sense of nervousness. I now know how opening night jitters actually feel. But we would not launch our venture without outside counsel and this posed the best opportunity to elicit passionate debate.
This particular play started off at a favorite restaurant and in an orderly manner. Introductions. Then a couple well-placed questions. That opened up the conversation and from there it flowed freely. You know you have a successful meeting when the wait staff tells you the restaurant is closing. We knew we had something real!
Ask yourself: “Have I sought objective outside guidance? Not friends, family, and fools, but really objective outside guidance?” If the answer is yes, you have another of the key elements to a great organization.
Lean on a Trade Group
Since that time, the partnership is formalized with an operating agreement and a value proposition that we constantly fine-tune. We show even more focus today than at the beginning. We continue to make presentations to our peers. They like what they see and willingly make introductions for us.
In our case, the Institute of Management Consultants provided the opportunity for four professionals to share values, get to know one another, develop a high level of trust and a desire to build a business, and find the connections to make it a reality.
Ask yourself: “Is there a professional organization I can look to for such support?” Seek it out.
I share this story so that others can see the same opportunity. At the recent GROW Conference, many of the speakers made the same point:
Aldonna Albers said, Opportunities are waiting for discovery.
Somers White said, Opportunities go to those who are prepared and are willing to make the effort to become very prepared.
Charlotte Roberts said, Business models are waiting to be discovered but you have to think that way to find them.
And finally Rick Berrara said, It’s up to you to develop your overpromise and to execute your over-deliver.
Always, always over-deliver. Ω
ATVM – A Third View Medical
IMC – Institute of Management Consultants
Photos courtesy A Third View Medical. Edited by John Jonelis.
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