For many founders, having something to prove is a rallying cry. Fuel to start and to keep going, even on the darkest days.

Founders can often feel misunderstood by family and friends. This misunderstanding gets converted into a feeling of having to prove people wrong. The naysayers, the doubters and the haters. Can having this need to prove something be a good thing for Founders?

It can be helpful to a point. Founders who remain extrinsically focused, however, don’t evolve well or fast enough and ultimately get held back by trying to prove something to others. …


Founders of startups who are raising funding for their companies can feel like they are the only ones who are fighting an uphill battle when it comes to balancing shipping their product and shopping it for backing. But this isn’t true. Startup founders are just one sector of creators who are shipping and shopping. In fact, just about everyone who creates something new is balancing the two.

The existence of startup founders working on their product while also trying to raise funding to give their company the capital needed to continue to operate and grow is not unlike the journey…


Investors and some Founders won’t want to hear this, but Founders don’t start out as good leaders. In fact, the longer it takes for a company to realize its potential the more likely it is for a Founder to evolve into a leader.

Founders, especially first-time founders, need the time to learn about themselves and to acclimate themselves to leading a team. In many cases first time founders have never led a team or initiative anywhere near the scope and challenge of making a company successful. These founders don’t know what they don’t know.

Starting a company isn’t something you…


A good defense wins championships. That’s what is said about sports teams.

The same isn’t true when it comes to business, however. In business, offense wins.

Defense can win in sports and other finite games because of the specific time parameter to the game. In finite games, a good defense needs only to keep the other team from scoring more points than their own team. Just one more than your opponent to win. Finite games sometimes don’t even require an equal balance of offense and defense. We see teams that are better defensively beat teams that are better offensively all…


Being a startup founder is a challenge and the daily existence of being a founder is such that most are unprepared for the realities of it. I write about some of the principles of being a Founder in my book, The Founder’s Manual.

Running a services firm is much like the daily existence of a startup, except services firms can be viable sooner and longer than most startups. The viability part is good. The daily startup existence not so much.

The day in and day out existence of most services firms being similar to startups is because of the fragility…


Most services firms are horizontal, in that they can provide their services to any type of client. This is good and bad.

Being horizontal means a firm can market to any company that at some point might need their services. This makes the potential market for a firm big. This is appealing to the leaders of services firms because it creates more possibilities for client referrals and serendipity.

On the surface being horizontal for services firms seems appealing. Do more with more. But often when you are marketing to everyone you are marketing to no one. As a result, firms…


I have a friend who is an avid cyclist. The kind of avid that will ride 100+ miles in a day. I asked him how he can ride for over 100 miles in a day. He had a quick and concise response…“Don’t get off the bike.”

He said that avid cyclists have this mentality. If you don’t get off the bike you can ride for a long time/distance. It is a great metaphor for many other endeavors that require persistence.

So how does not getting off a bike to ride long distances relate to professional service firm growth? …


The almighty referral. Every business salivates over referrals, especially professional services firms in which the sales pipeline beyond a few weeks is blurry.

Professional services firms covet referrals. The close rate is higher and the sales cycle is typically shorter. The endorsement of a trusted intermediary means a lot to a client searching for a professional services to engage with.

Many professional services firms try to generate more referrals and more consistently by offering to compensate potential referring parties. In theory it makes sense. Compensating others to refer potential clients should mean everyone wins. Compensating referral parties in the product…


It is a small thing, but when communicating with a client they always get listed first.

Clients should be listed first in emails that include other team members inside your firm and any third party partners or contractors.

Clients should be listed first in meeting invitations.

Why?

Because you want to send the message that you are focused on them and that you put them ahead of you. They are at the front of the line. They are who you are serving.

Does it matter?

It does. These small acts to ensure your clients and prospective clients are acknowledged before…


Amongst all the changes and turmoil in 2020, we’ve had a good year at AWH. We continue to grow our team and engage with interesting clients on creating interesting software products and solving data challenges. One of the reasons we’ve were able to continue to grow in 2020, despite the challenges it has thrown, is because of EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System).

2018 — The Learning Curve

We started implementing EOS in 2018 when we realized we weren’t as focused and organized as we could be. Meetings were being run differently across the company and we didn’t really have companywide objectives that were known by the…

Ryan Frederick

product & company builder | speaker | author | professional services firm growth coach

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