Every week I receive four to five emails and a half dozen phone calls from consultants in the business of connecting companies for potential partnerships. Most of the time, the caller is asking for a referral to my existing clients, claiming some new area of expertise that I may or may not have. Generally, I listen, check out the web site and then ask for referrals of satisfied customers. This is where the phone conversation goes a bit lame. In many instances, the caller is just starting out and wants an easy client referral. But now and again, a caller provides me some value by recommending a group or individual that has an existing client base, has awesome reference accounts and is worthy of mentioning. John Hraster, CEO Intersource, is one of them.
"Our specialty is that is we´re generalists, and typically we’re hired by the CEO when the business is going through major change like geographic expansion or partner development." While Hraster doesn’t work with retail, hospitality, restaurants, every other industry is fair game.
But let me backtrack-why would you use an organization like John’s?
1) you don´t have the internal expertise to pursue a partnership
2) you DO have the internal expertise but your investors/customer or other outside influence such as competitors demand that you accelerate your efforts
Long before I sold my partner development firm BMG to MyBizHomepage.com, I realized I couldn´t possibly serve 24 million small businesses out there, and always kept an eye out for new talent. It´s great to run across a new firm that has a track record of success. A recent example from Intersource is of a small software development company that had four founders/owners. They realized that they would "outgrow themselves" in Hraster´s words, and would be replaced. They proactively brought in Hraster, who spent the better part of a year going through every aspect of the business two hours a week, every week. Hraster had the four owners (who led the four lines of business) discuss size, plan, and organize around core elements, and encouraged them to think about "what will happen when the company is three times its size".
Hraster ended up defining and writing a complete company roadmap"?¦e.g. "when these milestones happen, we need to do this kind of work.” Hraster documented that line of thought across every business unit, from "how marketing is going to support everything and that the gets done and managed". This was completed and the firm grew 100% during the same year. In the subsequent year the firm grew another 100%. Shortly after that, the firm sold out to a national company and they got 80% premium purchase because the acquiring company looked at everything and saw the planning, the documentation, even had job descriptions, the acquiring firm realized it had almost NO execution risk. "All we have to do is add people and money and we are off to the race. The culminatin of the project and having everything documented gave gigantic boost in the enterprise value" said Hraster.
Hraster is hoping to replicate himself through a new venture he founded, called CEO Help, which is a network of resources that enables value to the CEOs on a one-on-one level. "By putting other companies up on the site, it adds value to all people, who finding other stuff of value such as partnerships." The natural fit is someone else is selling ceo´s that can be related, but not competing, all the while working at the same level. It is being restructured to include more in the way of strategic partnerships that leverage both the opportunities and the resources to deliver the services.
CEOhelp.net ("A Network of Resources for CEOs") will be a place on the web that “I can gather connections to my strategic partners and other resources to make them easily accessible to everyone and drive additional activity for everyone´s benefit,” said Hraster. It´s not up yet as that place; right now it just holds the InterSource website.
If you aren´t in a position to afford Intersource and don´t find what you need on CEO Help, Hraster says he has 3 feet of books bedside, and he recommends a few unique ones:
The One Thing by Marcus Buckingham
Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim, Renée Mauborgne
CEO Tools by Kraig Kramers
Jump Start Your Business Brain by Mark Doug Hall
Jump Start Your Marketing Brain by Mark Doug Hall