Richard Graves

Starting a Firm

Technology investors focus heavily on startups, particularly on capital-light, software product companies that, at least theoretically can scale heavily, generate significant cash-flow on high margins and generate interest in an acquisition or sustain an IPO. This is rare and hard, but necessary for the business models that many of the investment firms that dominate a lot of the mind space in the startup world require. Many of the service providers in that space are mature, fairly rankable, and accessible to clients.

However, in the Impact space, there are far fewer mature service providers and the need for some entirely new services. The time-tested model for most of these services, whether in Law, Accounting, Finance, Management Consulting, Public Relations, Advertising, etc. is the Firm.

Firms are different from other startups. So, let’s explore what resources are available to start a Firm.

First, it is a lot easier to bootstrap a firm. In fact, the primary offering firms sell is the value generated for clients from the time & talent of the firm’s partners. This has some scalability challenges at certain sizes, but is very effective at others.

Types of Firms [Anatomy of a Consulting Firm – David Maister]:

The “Leverage Structure”

Sole Practitioner (Lone Wolf)
Principal & Junior (Lone Wolf and Cub)
Partners & Associates

Roles: “Finders”, “Minders”, and “Grinders”

A Library {draft version}:

  1. Rework
  2. Innovation in Professional Services


Basic Software Suite

  1. Gmail for Work
  2. Dropbox
  3. Basecamp + Extras
  4. Start Invoicing
  5. Evernote
  6. Salesforce

Power Tools

  1. Zapier
  2. Taco




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