We develop and deliver corporate strategy recommendations with a decidedly different approach. We’ve found when you focus on something “soft” like empathy, you can still deliver work predicated on “hard” skills. In fact, we find that we can do even more.
Most consulting firms focus on the negative aspects and areas of improvement and recommend solutions to “fix” them. While we do identify the core business issues, we’ve learned that the opposite approach is much more successful. We ask a ton of questions. We listen to our clients. We analyze current operations. We identify the positive attributes and successes within the company operations that are directly connected to the Business Plan and Vision, and the specific capabilities that are driving these successes, and find ways to accelerate and extend them throughout the organization in order to achieve Corporate goals.
Savvy and experienced, our clients are incredible business minds. When working through the day-to-day and long term planning, though, fundamental problems can be missed.
Here’s how we worked with one recent client.
Our client is the owner of a recreational, after school sports program located in Chicago.
Initially, he requested CFO consulting to help position his company for growth, seeking a near 80% jump in revenues within a 12 month period.
Using our open-ended questions, we first needed to delve into prioritizing what was really and truly the barrier to desired growth.
The initial conversations and questions revealed that we had more to learn and that breaking down the numbers would be helpful and illuminating. We needed a way to better understand the current financial picture if we wanted to envision 80% revenue growth or structure a financial model to make that growth sustainable. Financial statements in entrepreneurial ventures don’t always accurately capture revenues, program costs nor payroll costs. It becomes impossible to build sound business models, ones relevant to current company operations and market opportunities.
Taking a step back, we knew before he could plan for growth there needed to be a solid business plan with clear delineation of his customer segments, value proposition, competitive advantage, sales channels, revenue streams, cost structures and key performance metrics which would act as GPS or “North Star” for business growth.
Using our Sixense Empathy Model™, we were able to develop a broader, more comprehensive picture of our clients’ current situation as well as articulate a roadmap to aid our client in hitting that steep revenue increase he was seeking. First we needed to understand unforeseen problems and unknown barriers.
We needed to not only make a Financial Model but ensure that it was one our client could execute, all within capital resources and time restraints.
After further inspection and conversation we dedicated time to help our client better articulate his company business model through sharing our wisdom, and strengthening his understanding of financial models, marketing strategy and brand positioning. These important knowns and unknowns only emerged through collegial, empathy-infused questioning.
We explored and explained the importance of company metrics, key performance indicators, accurately understanding cash flow, how resources are allocated, sources of revenue, articulated his company’s value proposition, uncovered his key strategic differentiator (unfair advantage) and clarified his customer segments.
Once we were able to help him understand those key foundational elements and why they are so important, we were then able to firm up a strategy for his desired revenue growth. The client business had grown organically and we needed to create critical strategic, financial and operational knowledge and infrastructure. We helped map a plan to get key financial statements GAAP compliant and help them better reflect the company’s operations so that they could be used to build the next year’s Financial Model.
We decided to structure the engagement in phases because we wanted the work to be in consumable parts for the client, practical evidence for them that we were coming from a place of understanding based on our questions/discussions. Each phase would deliver a building block to the Financial Model while developing the Business Plan and Corporate Strategy required for profitable revenue growth. We balanced immediate action items with larger goals of understanding and growth to help our client succeed now and in the future.
Phase I delivered accurate historical Financial Statements so that future revenue growth strategy was based on fact. During this stage we informed the client on his historical financial metrics as well and started a dialog on sources of revenue and cost structures.
Phase II of the project was to clarify personal goals and the strategic direction of the company. We developed a Strategic Plan for the coming year, identified the resources and create the metrics required to execute on the Corporate Strategy including Sales Compensation discussions and KPI’s, and reviewed current operations and areas of improvement in operational efficiency.
Here, we built the foundation of the client’s Business Model on a Lean Business Canvas template. We purposefully used a startup model and dissected the operations of the Company as seen through a strategic lens. This enabled us to focus our efforts regarding the financial and operational strategy while ensuring we met the external customer focus and marketing messaging.
Phase III built the custom designed dashboard financial model that would bring the Business Model to life and help him be most effective as a business operator. The model was built to accurately reflect what we saw to be his company’s KPIs so that he could gauge how well he would do against his growth goal.
The original client framework made growth goals of 80% in a year virtually impossible. While we are thrilled to have created a business model that could help him achieve his goals, we are equally thrilled that the work we did helped us uncover his knowns and unknowns, all from a place of empathy and understanding.
It’s a foundational piece and differentiator of the Sixense Empathy Model™ and makes for additional benefits for our clients. Beyond uncovering ways to meet the goals and challenges a client is engaging, we take the time to educate and empower them by asking the questions that get to the heart of those goals and challenges. It leads us to a far more accurate picture of a business and is a revelatory process for our clients.
Through our efforts, we were then better able to develop the Business Model as a foundation of the Financial Model. Most importantly, we educated and enrolled the client in subscribing to the Business Model and Business Strategy. This investment enabled “real-time” implementation and execution of the plan, while we continued to develop the Financial Model, delivering immediate improvement and efficiency in current operations. As a result, client confidence in our Corporate Strategy recommendations grew and client confidence in being able to execute on the upcoming year’s Financial Plan and achieve Revenue and Profit targets was established.
Beyond strategy consulting, we also offer custom coaching and startup advisory.
Ready to see how we can help you? Set up your free 30 minute phone consult about our strategy, coaching, and startup advisory services. Call us at 312.208.7329.