When Brendan and I started ATX in 2013, we had a vision for filling what we perceived to be a critical need in the marketplace - a business-focused technology consultancy that allowed emerging middle market companies compete with larger industry peers. This post is part two of a ten post blog series highlighting lessons learned each year at ATX.
2014: The Power of Relationships
Reflecting on a successful first year, the biggest thing that stood out from 2014 was the power of relationships. Having previously worked at a firm that did a fantastic job of harnessing the network within the organization to quickly establish connections it was difficult to no longer have the built-in comfort of thousands of co-workers with roots that extended far beyond the orbit of any individual.
We spent quite a bit of time during our first years building up a network of new relationships and reconnecting with the old. In addition to relying on our network for connections to new prospective clients, we also began to build a network of peers and service providers that we felt could help us better serve our clients or connect them with resources for areas we could not provide support.
A good colleague of ours, Doug Bosley, once shared a pearl of wisdom from his years of experience cultivating relationships - never take a short-term view. Account development is all about sprinkling a lot of seeds. You are never sure which ones will grow but eventually some will take root. In our early days we began sowing a lot of seeds and we continue to rely on our network for referrals, knowledge, market trends, and advice.
Recently, we did a team exercise tracing the origin of many of our clients. It was eye-opening to see how nearly every client was connected back to relationships we established in the early years. While we continue to add to our network, the seeds that were planted many years ago have grown into a small forest that now produces it’s own acorns.
To further highlight how important relationships are to us – in 2014, 100% of our business came from referrals and this is still well above 90% today. Strong relationships are critically important to maintain our current clients and consequently be introduced to new clients.
Doug - thanks for the wisdom and for helping to spread some of our acorns when the forest was still young!
This one’s for you!
Check out the other entries in this blog series below: