01: Welcome To Management Blueprint Podcast

Steve Preda explains why he is launching this podcast, the reason for picking professional services and why he is passionate about this sector.  He also shares his personal story of starting his own professional services firm and his trials and tribulations.

Listen to the podcast here

 

Welcome To Management Blueprint Podcast

This is the first edition of this podcast that I’m launching today about professional services firms and about traction. So let me unpack this a little bit for you. So what does it mean professional services? What does it mean traction? Well, professional services is a collection of the different branches of professional services. This is where I live, this is where I was brought up as a professional, this is where I spent my working life, first as an employee, and then as a business owner.

Professional services for me includes different areas. It includes consulting, so all those business to business consulting firms, management consultants, marketing consultants, IT consultants, and PR consultants, and all these different consulting branches. It also includes technology services companies that may have a Cloud product, they may be running on a SaaS model, they may be an IT product company. So all these different technology driven companies that are business to business are part of that category. It also includes engineering and accounting firms.

So think about architecture firms, design firms, engineering, consulting firms, and accounting firms. The good old CPA firms like the one I worked for when I was starting out my career in London with KPMG and smaller firms. So I’m not targeting the big ones, the big four. My universe is small to medium-sized companies, typically anywhere between five employees to 500 employees, companies that are privately owned and typically owner-operated, or maybe they are private equity owned, but definitely private companies that are in charge of their own destinies. So they set their own course, they chart their own course.

This is the companies I love and this is the companies I have served throughout my career. So that’s what I mean by professional services. About my background, which is, as you guessed, in professional services, started life as an accountant in London. I’m kind of a CPA in England, we call them ACAs, Chartered Accountant. And then I went into banking, I went into development banking with a major multilateral bank called the European Bank. Then I went into investment banking.

And when I was 35 years old, I set up my own investment banking boutique firm in my hometown of Budapest, Hungary. And that was 2002, just before Hungary was about to join the European Union. There was a lot of excitement, there was a lot of optimism, even though we were kind of on the heel of the internet bubble bursting and 9-11. But nevertheless, I started the company and this company went on a nice run. So for the next five years, we’re growing 30 to 50% per annum.

And by 2007, we led the market in our category, which was investment banking for small to medium sized businesses. We closed the most number of transactions that year. And then 2008 was the year of the financial crisis. So that didn’t really help that much to my business. We almost went under but we somehow survived, rebounded and did some expansion. But around the year 2011 during the Eurozone crisis my wife and I decided that maybe we should be doing something else than being here in Hungary all the changes that were not going the right direction. So we decided to come to America.

And as I was packing my luggage, I was approached by a private equity firm in Budapest, a successful one, who were interested to partner with me. And I was not ready for that, but they gave me an offer anyway for my business, which I wish I had never asked for, because it was a very sobering piece of email that I received. And it woke me up to the fact that I was the proverbial cobbler going bare feet. And even though I was advising all these companies how to prepare for sale, I was totally unprepared. And the price offered for my company was well below what I thought my company was worth. So there was no transaction.

However, good thing this summer, following summer, that was about May 2012, and in the summer around June, end of June, I stumbled upon a book called Traction. So this is where Traction comes into the picture, written by Gino Wickman, who was, and who still is, an entrepreneur, a lifelong entrepreneur, and Gino figured out how to, what are those major management tools that need to be implemented for small business in order to break through the ceiling. He wrote about this interaction. I got really excited as I do when I read stuff like that. I started immediately implementing these tools in my business, and lo and behold, they worked.

These tools involved delegating, it involved empowering my people, it involved sharing power in the company, it involved measuring our progress in much more structured fashion. It included having regular meetings where we solved our issues. So our company started growing again. And even though I was out of the country for most of the year, the following 12 months, the company was actually doing really well. And my investors who saw that this company was kind of a self-managing business, managing itself without me, they were ready to come back to the table and write me a nice check.

In the realm of professional services, success is not just about weathering storms but mastering the art of growth, delegation, and empowering your team. Share on X

So that’s how I sold my business, moved over here to the United States in 2013. I did some investment banking here first and then I also became a facilitator of a peer group of two peer groups here in Virginia, where I am. And I did this for a few years. I’ve worked with CEOs and coached them and facilitate their peer groups. But I kept thinking back to traction and how it was and how fun, how much fun it was to work in my own team and to achieve the results that we did. So I looked into how to become a certified EOS implementer, and I made the decision that was around the end of 2016 to become one of these people, and I embarked on the journey and never looked back. A year or so later, I gave up my peer groups and went full-time.

Here I am, three years later, and I’ve helped over 30 companies implement EOS, and we have some really great stories there, which I will share some of the stories on this podcast as we move forward in time. But the point is that traction and the entrepreneurial operating system, which the traction book talks about really works, and this is what I do for companies help them break through the ceiling.

Now, on this podcast, what I want to do is I want to focus on professional services and technology firms, and talk to these firms, share some of my experiences during implementing EOS with my clients and the experience I hear from my professional service clients and partners and peers, I’m going to be inviting some of these people on the show to exchange some ideas and to share some experiences, war stories, challenges, how they overcome them, all those things that people who run professional services firms should be interested in, or I believe will be interested in or are interested in.

Certainly, I am very interested in these stories. So whether you are interested or not, I’m going to be sharing them with you. So that’s what you’re going to be doing. Actually, I haven’t finished explaining professional services. So we talked about different categories. We talked about consulting firms, technology services firms, we talked about engineering and accounting firms. It also includes legal firms, law firms. So we’ll talk about the challenges and the opportunities for these firms and how they break through the ceiling.

We are also going to be talking about investing and real estate firms, brokerage firms, as well as real estate investment firms, advisory firms. I’m kind of biased for that category because I was running my own investment bank, which I’m very passionate about. So that’s going to be part of the category as well. Professional services technology is going to be the field. If you’re as excited as I am about entrepreneurship and professional services firms, then please join me on this podcast. I’m going to be posting regularly here and sharing, documenting my journey. And hopefully you’ll give me some ideas as well, which I can then bring to everyone, listeners.

So I really have in mind you as my partner in this venture. I want us to do this together. I’m going to be doing most of the heavy lifting, but I hope that you are going to help me with out with some content as well, because I’m not just doing this podcast altruistically for you, dear listener. I’m also doing it because I’m a very curious person and I want to learn as much as I can about the topic, about these businesses and entrepreneurial challenges. And I feel like if I can engage you guys in this journey, then it’s going to accelerate my opportunity to learn about the stuff. So that’s the idea.

So I think that’s about it for our inaugural episode. If you’d like to learn more about what I’m doing, feel free to check out my LinkedIn page, which is linkedin.com Steve Preda, or check out my website, stevepreda.com, or just shoot me an email at steve@stevepreda.com. So that’s it for today. I wish you, especially if you’re a professional services or technology firm, increasing traction that you break through the ceiling. And until next time, have a great day and speak to you very soon.

 

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