Entrepreneurship is all about calculated risk. We can create strategic plans, implement repeatable processes, hire the top people, and engage with the best customers. However, the only way to grow to the next level is to bite off more than you can chew, and pray you don’t choke.
I know the feeling of biting off more than you can chew. Four years ago, Information Experts made the strategic decision to invest in a newly formed Joint Venture (JV) to pursue a multi-billion dollar Department of State program. The risk was ridiculously high but the possible reward was astronomical.
I had 100% faith and belief in the leadership team for the JV, and believed in the mission of the program. We gave (almost) all we had to this effort. Fast forward 12 months, and we were awarded one of the coveted spots on this 8-year, multi-billion dollar program. As part-owner of the JV, the projected ROI was incredible. It was party time!
Not so fast. Almost immediately after notification of the awards, a former incumbent protested. Once, twice, three times they protested…over a period of 18 months. Then, sequestration hit with full force. Phrases like “continuing resolution,” “termination for convenience,” “budget impasse,” and “lowest price-technically acceptable” became commonplace lingo for government contractors.
“Stuff” hit the fan. It was definitely NOT party time. But I’ve been at this for almost 20 years and I’m nothing if not resilient. I’ve survived the implosion of the telecom and internet industries, 9/11 terrorist attacks which shut down the DC business region, two recessions, two government shut-downs (that was fun!!), the collapse of the auto, finance, and housing markets, and two cancer scares.
Through the last several years, our bank, Eagle Bank stuck by us. They worked with us as we re-shaped our organization to conform to the new realities of government contracting, and waited out impending awards.
And guess what…now we will all benefit. Now that Congress passed a budget, contracts and task orders are moving again. And, finally after 4 years, the wheels are in motion for our multi-billion dollar award. Our team, GCJS has received its first of what will be many, many task order awards.
Bob Pincus, Vice Chairman of Eagle Bank, recently joined me as my guest on Washington Business Report, along with my friend and fellow woman business owner Michelle Boggs.
Michelle, who owns McKinley Marketing Partners, is also a long-time Eagle bank customer who maneuvered her way through recession-driven setbacks with Eagle at her side. We talked about the importance of the long-term strategic banking relationship, and how it can literally make or break a business.
If you want to know what to look for in a long-term relationship with a bank that will grow with you in good times and stick with you in bad, please watch our segment, as well as Bob’s solo segment when he discusses the state of the economy. In our group segment, he talks about his personal commitment to help his customers own their own destinies.
Here are the segment links:
Link to Bob’s segment.
Link to our group segment.
If you are in the DC region, please reach out to me if you would like an introduction to Bob and the rest of the Eagle team.
For all business owners, here are 5 tips to nurture and fortify your current banking relationship:
1: Proactive, transparent communication. Keep your banker in the loop about your financial situation. If there will be cash flow issues (which are especially common with government contractors), let them know early.
2: Keep them in the loop about your pipeline and your wins. Let your banker know what’s coming down the business development pike. They’ll understand cash-flow peaks and valleys a lot better if they have a clear view of the horizon.
3: Share good news, press, etc. with them. Have you received any press lately? Let them know. Up for an award? Share the news. Banking is a relationship, not a transaction. Don’t just call them when you need something.
4: Maintain a non-banking centric connection, as deemed appropriate. In other words, humanize your connection with your banker. Connect on the various social media outlets, invite your banker to networking events or company outings. Truly “connect” with them.
5: Refer, refer, refer. If you’re happy with your bank, spread the word. Contribute to their success, the way they contribute to yours. Every winning relationship is based on mutual support.
Like any relationship, you will get out of it what you put into it. Nurture your relationship with your banker, and it will surely yield strong dividends for years to come as you build your business.