Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The First Invoice (Ouch!)

The exhilaration of signing a new client is like no other feeling in the world! Here are the fruits of your hard work paying off right before your very eyes indeed you are on cloud nine and feeling unstoppable.  Now the real work begins.  So you dig in and work like there's no tomorrow, meeting deadlines, knocking presentations out of the park.  You're surprising even your own-self with high productivity and stellar results.  Nothing can go wrong...right?  Well, actually this statement does not exist in the repertoire of a small business owner, so let's try this again.  You have not anticipated that anything will go wrong at this point.  Until the time comes for the first invoice.  

The first time you invoice a client is always like walking on water, though you tell them what to expect the client still expresses shock and awe at the bottom line cost.  Your follow up conversation with them is awkward at best and you are tempted to relent but you stand your ground and 10 days later receive your payment.  It is then that you truly realize that small business ownership is not for lightweights.  You will need to adopt a system that suits your business structure and implement this technique for every client that is interested in doing business with you.  Having multiple systems to suit each individual client will not ensure streamline receipt of timely payment each month.

I will admit, I learned this the hard way as most do who can not afford full-time accountants, but since then have implemented a system that works.  I had to realize that benevolence is always noble but unfortunately a pat on the back accompanied by a big thanks does not pay the bills.  Understanding what you're worth before having that budget conversation with a potential client is key.  Set a minimum contract rate and do not go below that amount.  This new year will bring about a resurgence in our economy which will translate into lucrative opportunities for small business.  Deciding how your finances will flow in and out of your company before you increase your client load will help you navigate what's to come.  Happy New Year from Kennedy Consulting and as always I wish you much business success in 2010 and beyond.

Small Business Resource of the Week: Maryland-Governor's Office Minority Affairs

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

1+1=3 (part two)

There's no question that starting and maintaining a successful business in any economy is difficult at best. However, with the right business partners the process of building and sustaining can be more conducive for remaining sane.  Since starting this journey in early 2008 I have accumulated more gray hair than I want to admit but this in fact is a small price to pay for the continued reciprocal benefits I enjoy everyday.  Indeed there are no "rock stars" in small business only those who are willing to roll up their sleeves and accomplish what needs to be done every day. Finding even one individual that is willing to work just as hard to build a business that provides only modest immediate rewards is not impossible but takes much time and patience.  However, there are those times when you get it right on the first try like I did.

This week, part two of my interview with Kennedy Consulting's Senior Consultant, Lauren Smith.

April: Last week we talked a little bit about your background and also discussed the journey you took to starting your own company Head Not Tail, Inc. in 2002. Can you talk briefly about what attracted you to Kennedy Consulting?

Lauren: We've known each other for over a decade and I truly respect and appreciate the level of professionalism, enthusiasm, spirituality and organization that April brings to her business.

April: There's no question that you emulate those same qualities and then some this has undoubtedly been one of the biggest reasons for our successful partnership.  So would you say then that strategic partnerships play a pretty significant role in growing a business?

Lauren: I think strategic partnerships are essential to accelerate the growth of any business. This has become apparent to me over the years, in my role as a small business owner, as well as during my time in Corporate America.

April: I find that this is true in my experience as well.  Lauren this interview has been great and hopefully now the readers have a better idea of who you are and what you bring to this company.  As a final question what type of advice would you give to those business owners who are looking to solidify strategic partnerships and how can they sustain them over time?

Lauren: I believe business partnerships are similar to friendships, in that a successful relationship will be based on common interests and goals.  To me, the key to sustaining these relationships is communication.  The communication does not necessarily have to be constant, although in the first stages of the partnership this probably makes more sense.  However, the communication must be open and honest, with the understanding that there are common interest and goals and that each party wants to help the other succeed.

Thank you Lauren and I have no doubts that we will be hearing and seeing more great things from you in the near future.  If you are a small business owner and you're looking for the right partner take your time in the selection process and you just may get it right the first time as I did.  I wish you much business success.

Small Business Resource of the Week: Maryland-Governor's Office Minority Affairs

Note:  [If you receive an error message when posting a comment just click "post comment" twice.]

Sunday, December 6, 2009


There are days as an entrepreneur when you wake up and it takes more than you have individually to push yourself in order to accomplish your set goals for that particular day. One recognizes very early on that not only was Rome not built in a day but it also was not built by just one person.  Sounds like common sense right?  Believe it or not there are some who prefer to take sole credit for an outcome, this euphoria however, is almost always short lived. You begin to realize very quickly the amount of work it will take in order for your company to survive beyond 1 or 2 years.  Everyone has a great idea but having a great idea means absolutely nothing without the ability to execute it in a timely and efficient manner.  This happens only when you recognize that YOU NEED HELP!  I realized this very early on and as a result, Kennedy Consulting has gone farther, faster while maintaining a level of quality and individualized customer service.  In other words, 1+1 no longer = 2 but a whopping 3!  
Today, I introduce my secret weapon-Lauren Smith.  Her stealth skills and ability to just make it happen is this companies greatest addition. Her background in public relations, events management and writing makes her uniquely qualified to meet the needs of our diverse clientele.  Sunday I had a moment to interview Lauren and below is part 1 of a compelling conversation with Kennedy Consulting's Senior Consultant.

April: When did you know that you were Entrepreneurious?  

Lauren: The first time I realized I was Entrepreneurious was when I was a sophomore in high school.  I started selling my crafts to fellow students.  Then, three of us got together to create a business plan for a joint venture, through which we could all sell our creations.  That venture never made it off the ground, but it taught some valuable lessons about working with others, channeling your passions and most importantly, how to tell a "talker" from a "walker." Basically, who is just talking the talk and is not willing to walk the walk?

April: Lauren, I understand that you have continued "channeling your passions" which have culminated in your own consulting business.  For all those who have ambitions to start their own company, talk a little bit about Head Not Tail, Inc.

Lauren: I have been involved in various aspects of many ventures, culminating in the creation of my own consulting corporation, Head Not Tail, Inc., in 2002. The business name comes from Deut. 28:13, which talks about the blessings that come from following God's instruction as laid out in previous chapters, "The LORD will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom." Head Not Tail, Inc. has had the privilege of working projects on behalf of Destiny's Child, Kool & The Gang, Chaka Kahn, Marvin Winans, Jr., Vicki Winans, Mavis Staples, Bishop T.D. Jakes and Donald Lawrence, to name a few.

There's no question that starting a business is a journey that is not meant for those who give up easily but is for those who continue to push forward in spite of and realize that you can go farther, faster with the right business partner(s).  I am fortunate to have just that.  Next week, part 2 of my interview with Lauren Smith, until then I wish you much business success.

Small Business Resource of the week: The Small Business Administration