Relationships Matter: How 2 Grow Your Services Business
New services ventures face an uphill battle as they work towards building their credibility and winning early clients. In a competitive services landscape, what can founders do to ensure that their businesses have the best chance for growth? As part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, Babson Global Entrepreneur in Residence (GEIR) Akhil Suresh Nair MBA’18 led a # How 2 Tuesday session on How 2 Grow Your Services Business. Akhil is the founder of Parzenn Partners, a business advisory firm that serves small to mid-sized companies. In his How 2 Tuesday, Akhil shared his story of founding Parzenn, offering tips along the way about how to best position your services venture for success. Here are a few of our favorite insights from Akhil’s talk:
Choosing your co-founders wisely: For all startups, adding co-founders to the team is an important decision. In sharing his experience forming the early Parzenn team, Akhil emphasized the difficulty of finding the right co-founders, describing the process as harder than finding a romantic partner! Akhil advised us that founding with close friends is a dangerous proposition; although you might believe working with friends will enhance your productivity, you risk souring your personal relationship outside of the venture. So if you shouldn’t work with your friends, who should you recruit as a co-founder? Akhil suggested seeking out someone whose entrepreneurial skill set is the polar opposite of yours. This allows you to build a more balanced founding team and keep your professional relationships separate from your personal friendships.
Building early credibility: For services businesses, trust is a key factor when approaching potential clients. As a new services venture, how can you convince more seasoned companies to work with you? Akhil leveraged both the support of the Babson alumni network and the greater Boston ecosystem to gain connections, dedicating time towards attending events and meeting new people. While attending networking events, he listened carefully to the needs of potential clients to determine how Parzenn could best serve their businesses, rather than hastily presenting them with services they did not need. In the early going, Parzenn Partners did a lot of free work for these clients, projects which allowed them to establish their credibility and gain crucial references. As Akhil put it, “Relationships matter in the services industry.”
Spending wisely: Which software and tools are necessary for new services businesses to amaze and retain customers? Akhil’s guiding principle has been “not to throw money at things you don’t understand.” While purchasing a domain name was important in establishing his venture’s credibility, he suggests not going overboard on early web development costs. Similarly, when creating platforms for potential customers, he advises founders not to develop beyond a demo which can show the key functionalities. Akhil was able to teach himself the basics of coding and building functional mockups, allowing him to demo platforms for customers before investing in further development. Akhil also emphasized the importance for founders to teach themselves the basics of bookkeeping so they do not overspend crucial early funding on outside accounting help. Overall, Akhil credits creatively leveraging resources and bootstrapping as essential to Parzenn Partners’ early growth.
We hope you enjoyed Akhil’s insights about founding a services venture, and that you check out the Blank Center’s How 2 Tuesday events throughout the semester! On Tuesday, November 5th, we’ll be hosting How 2 Acheive Customer Success with Silicon Valley Bank’s Jesse Bardo! Register for the event at https://h2customersuccess.eventbrite.com, and check out the rest of this semester’s How 2 Tuesdays schedule at http://bit.ly/2019h2tuesdays.