Team Effort

Posted on Jul 9, 2009 :: Small Business Spotlight
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Small business consultants partner to offer clients more

Meeting with a client to discuss different ways to improve the company’s operations, Gary Vaughan, owner of Guident Business Solutions, soon discovers an underlying problem – poor cash flow – that is hampering what the business is trying to do. Instead of trying to solve the issue himself or tell the client he can’t help, Vaughan calls in Tony Busch of Priora Cash Flow Management LLC to provide his expertise. The result? A happy, satisfied client.

That’s the idea behind a new business collaboration among four Fox Cities area businesses. Guident Business Solutions, which Vaughan launched earlier this year, teamed up with BeneVentura, Priora Cash Flow Management and Epiphany Law to help better serve the needs of area small businesses.

“We’ve all done due diligence on each other and are comfortable with recommending our clients to them,” says Vaughan, who most recently was associate director at Fox Valley Technical College’s Venture Center. “We wanted to be careful in setting this up because that recommendation reflects back on me. If I send a client to someone I’m not familiar with – or don’t even offer a reference to help my client – that’s not creating a positive experience.”

Collaboration among the businesses can only help clients, Busch says. “What it comes down to at the end of the day is that we are providing better service to our clients,” he says. “Two or more businesses benefit, as does our client. Everyone wins.”
Vaughan agrees. “The collaboration allows me to serve my clients better than I could by myself,” he says.

BeneVentura owner Dan Schroeder says participating businesses complement each other well. “We’re not competing with each other – we’re working together as a team,” he says. “We serve as a network where we share abilities as needed.”

When Vaughan launched Guident earlier this year, he decided to tap into the expertise of fellow small business owners he previously worked with: Busch and Kevin Eismann of Epiphany Law. From there, he learned that Busch had a solid relationship with Schroeder.

“The four of us got together and talked it out. When you pick partners for collaboration like this, you need to have similar missions, which we do,” Vaughan says. “I always tell my students that I’m smarter in a room full of people than by myself and that’s the thinking that went into forming this collaboration. We’ve pre-qualified each other and have no problem handing off a client to another member of the group. There’s a strong level of trust there.”

When first meeting with a client, Vaughn says he is never sure what expertise is needed. “Oftentimes, there’s a financial issue that gets you in the door such as poor cash flow, but then other issues come up that we can address through a referral,” he says.

Education is an essential part of how the members do business, Busch says. “We aren’t just hired guns and come in to fix something. We want our clients to understand how something is done and will sit there, for example, and show them how the cash flow software works,” he says. “In the end, that helps them to better understand how their business runs.”

In addition to the informal collaboration with BeneVentura, Epiphany Law and Guident Business Solutions, Busch is also involved with The Business Resource Center, a more formal business organization. That group, which was founded last year, focuses more on education and holds monthly workshops.

“The BRC members try to share topics we think are of interest to the small business community and share our expertise and sometimes referrals come from that,” he says. “This collaboration with Dan, Kevin and Gary is more straight-forward and referral based. It’s also more informal. We just meet to talk things over coffee whenever needed. The important thing is that our clients are getting the best service possible.”

In today’s economic environment, collaboration is more important than ever before, Vaughan says.

“The more you can offer your clients, the more successful you will be. Forming partnerships with others to broaden what you can bring to the table to your clients is essential,” he says. “We help clients make good decisions for the right reasons.”