April 1rst 2021 and a personal milestone for M. Allen. It's the one year anniversary since I started my own management consulting practice. Before I tell my story, I'd like to thank the following companies for engaging with me this past year:
- National Bankruptcy Services
- Spectrum Solutions Acquisitions
- Speridian Technologies
- Awesome Technologies (ATI)
- DelMorgan & Co. (my investment banking arm)
- DigiDeck by SportsDigital
- Computershare Loan Services (CLS)
- RocketPower Inc.
So looking back this past year, what are the key questions and lessons that I've learned as a self-employed/small business owner? I'll break it down by some key questions that I've been thinking through the past month (as I conducted my quarterly business review):
Q1: What have been my top three lessons learned this past year?
First and foremost, I've learned to not be surprised by anything or over-react when something negative occurs. From not having support of those that I thought were "close" friends and colleagues (simple things like returning a call, a text, an email) to not winning a proposal to having a personal challenge hit our family....I learned how to keep moving and focus on what I can control!
Second, perseverance is your friend in the long journey of being a business owner and to success in general. Sports legends like Michael Jordan's saying: "I've failed over and over and over again in my life....that's why I succeed." to Brooks Koepka's statement: "It's been very humbling...I was in some dark places mentally. I didn't know if I was ever going to be the same again." I have kept these statements by me every day and read them every morning. Keep moving...get back up and move...
My third key lesson learned or reinforced this past year is the mind is powerful and dangerous at the same time. It's so amazing to see how my mental state was helping me move forward or on some days preventing me from taking any action at all. It's imperative for any of us who want to achieve our best self to keep your mental state healthy and positive. I can't stress this enough.
Q2: What worked the best in landing opportunities for your clients and M. Allen?
Your network and past colleagues are key and most important. You can have the best talents or solution to offer but without a network that understands where you have been, your track record, and who you are as a person....you will have a very long road to travel. I can't stress enough to continue to develop and nurture your network of relationships.
In addition to your network, I would stress the important lesson of delivering thought leadership, digital insights and lending a free hand to someone that asks. In this digital or virtual age we find ourselves in today, the ability to deliver meaningful insights will help promote your capabilities, intellect and talents while helping your clients/prospects/colleagues.
As a third point of reference, keep the "outward-in" perspective when reaching out to your network and prospects. Put how they are feeling, what they are dealing with, what are their challenges, etc. ahead of your own. People are all going through challenges (especially in this pandemic environment we find ourselves in this past year) and they are most interested in how you can help them......
Q3: What is key about establishing your personal and company brand?
When I set out to start M. Allen, I knew small and mid-market B2B companies were going to have challenges in growing their revenue. Existing accounts would "freeze" spending and trying to get new logos would be nearly impossible at the beginning of the pandemic. Therefore, the theme of "GROWTH" was a core brand element to launching M. Allen.
Leveraging the theme of growth, I then thought about the core differentiators and elements of my personal brand and how they would carry-over to M. Allen's theme of growth in action. So the following are key principles that I've tried to deliver or act on daily:
- Transparency - I've always been known to believe in transparency and kept this front and center in everything we are doing....even publishing or sharing in public posts our sales coverage by account and buying decision team executive. Many sales professionals will hype or talk about their network but do they actually show who they talked to and covered in the last week, month, quarter, year, etc?
- Commitment to serve and deliver - What are you committed to? In the case of M. Allen and Matt Slonaker, I'm focused on committing to helping people achieve growth. By sharing insights, lessons learned, and most importantly taking action to help them grow (such as developing business opportunities or helping them land a job).
- Logical and sound decision-making - Leveraging data, analytics and facts to support recommendations and decisions. I've always enjoyed the insights and gems you get from analyzing trends, data and metrics.
- Passion to what we do every day and with every client/prospect engagement - Many of my friends, family and colleagues have always described my passion as a key point of strength. Find your passion and what makes you energetic....leverage those in your journey.
- Affordability and high value services - I'm not looking to be "cheap" or the "lowest solution" in the market place. However, I knew breaking into the consulting realm that I wanted to be priced reasonably while providing higher value than my peers in the industry. That's why instead of just developing or offering strategy recommendations....we actually do or act on the strategy recommendations we offer our clients. Leveraging our three decade old network, use the latest methods in a virtual world to help position new opportunities/pipeline for our clients.
Integrity -do what we say - so key to anything we do in life is backing up what we commit to our stakeholders. It's refreshing to hear from people and hear them say how they respect this or that they see this as a strength of mine.
Growth - with our clients, partners & ourselves - get outside your comfort zone...I hear this all the time in the back of my head. We can not achieve growth until you accept being uncomfortable in a new situation, that next role, or starting your own business venture.
Last Question: What's been the most rewarding experience over the last year starting M. Allen?
I believe the most rewarding experience has been the affirmation from clients, friends, family and colleagues that I will be successful. To stick in there...keep doing what you love...keep your focus...
Additionally, the testaments from former bosses who reinforce your talents and skills...go out of their way to encourage and support your growth.
Finally, the opportunity to see clients appreciate and most importantly use the best practices and methods that I've been bringing to their teams. I have especially enjoyed helping the executives who were skeptics at first whether the methods would help....when it does and they say "thank you" ...it's PRICELESS!
So in closing this personal note on my journey, I again say "thank you" to all of my clients who have engaged with M. Allen. I can only hope that the strategies we have implemented together will last and make the growth impact we were seeking together. It's been a journey that has made me stronger and to that I am thankful!
Cheers to those who may not know me or what we're focused on delivering at M. Allen. I hope you achieve your own journey of growth in these challenging times. As a token of my thanks or assistance in your growth, I'm attaching several of my briefs on revenue/profitability growth below. After review, let me know if I can help in any other way by phone: 972.740.4300 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let's grow!
Founder & CEO of M. Allen - Growth in Action
Ps: The image or picture below is me enjoying the beautiful air and mountain scenery in Boulder, Colorado. It's truly been a great place to refuel on the weekends and clear the mind.