Crain’s Fast Fifty Wisdom

Fast50Last week I attended the inaugural Crain’s Fast Fifty Breakfast. My goal was to learn a little about what made some of the honorees successful even in the down market and to make some networking contacts in Chicago. I made some great contacts and learned some things too.

Here are a few bits of entrepreneurial wisdom from the panel discussion:

  • Put together a team of advisors to help you with topics that are not your area of expertise.
  • Are you thinking of growing by acquisition? Multiples on purchase opportunities are way down, from 13 times earnings before to around 8 times earnings now. It’s a good time to buy.
  • What should you expect from your sales team? They should generate at least 2.5 times their salary in revenue to justify their place on the team.
  • Don’t assume you don’t need help in your own area of expertise. Julie Guida of Marketing Werks said the company benefitted greatly by hiring a marketing company.
  • Even if you think you are too small, consider opening offices in other geographic locations. Don’t underestimate the power of being close to your clients.
  • There are a lot of good people looking for work now. Use the down market to find and hire good people.
  • To retain great talent treat them well financially and support them, but still expect them to support the company during difficult times.
  • To hire great talent treat prospective employees like clients and help them fall in love with the company.

At the beginning of the panel discussion Steven Rodgers, the Moderator, noted that entrepreneurs are often the ones who step up and create jobs when the economy falters. We should recognize and honor their contributions more. Those are wise words.