Finding your end game
Valerie Perlowitz, an entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience shares how to start and grow your business with the end game in mind.
“Wherever you go, there you are,” is a line from the movie The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension and is the way some entrepreneurs run their companies. This article will focus on the main drivers of growing a successful business based on my 25+ years of experience in the trenches.
I have started, grown, and sold a private technology business and sold, bought, and integrated business for public companies. In either case, the lessons are the same, know where you are going.
- Start with an end game in mind. You have a great idea, you start a business, you perform all the steps needed to get the business legally off the ground. Determining the corporate structure, how you will finance the business, etc. are all important tasks with starting a business, but we will not go into these in this article. Assuming you have mustered these hoops, you are on your way…or are you? What you want to do with your idea is more than just what you sell, it is what does the end game look like? End game is the status of a company when you know you have “made it”. End games include revenue and profitability goals, but also the types of customers and the products/services you provide them.
- Build the company deep not wide. Build product and service offerings that work towards your end game. Pursue customers and contracts that will support the growth of the company towards its end game. Hire for today with an eye to your needs to meet your end game. Not all people will fit the positions they were hired for as the company grows, so be open to having the right people for the right positions. The key here is to build upon successes to create a company that is deep, not wide. A deep company has strong concentrations of customers, products, and services, while a wide company has a little of everything. Deep companies have the greatest value for corporate stakeholders.
- Exit based on your end game. You made your idea into a successful business and now you want to cash in on your success. Even if you do not want to sell your company outright, it is always a good idea to take equity off of the table when the company reaches the end game. A key concept to note is that the best valuation is for companies built deep not wide. Products, services, customers, all fit into the deep part of the company.
I leveraged my technical experience as an Electrical, Computer, and Cybersecurity Engineer to bring about service offerings for Government and Fortune 1000 customers for my first business. I did not have an end game when I first started. We were all over the map acquiring customers, contracts, and people that were not a good fit for what the corporate vision was. Once the end game was created, all fell into place, and we successfully exited after 20 years.
Valerie W. Perlowitz is currently the CEO/Founding Partner of International Holding Company LLC. She has over 30 years’ experience in all parts of the corporate life-cycle. Ms. Perlowitz has been recognized for leadership with industry awards, including: Analytics Insight 10 Most Influential Women in Technology 2020, multiple Federal 100 winner for being one of the top “100 contributors to government and industry partnerships”, McGraw-Hill Companies Inaugural Top 100 Women in Computing, and Washington Business Journal’s Inaugural Women Who Mean Business.
She is a frequent invited speaker on industry and technology panels that assist corporate positioning, technology, including managed services, cybersecurity, long range planning, and strategy. She is also a recognized expert on Federal contracting; contributed to many commentaries to and testified numerous times on the Hill about the state of, and proposed changes to, the Federal small and woman-owned business contracting environment.
Ms. Perlowitz is married to her husband Bill Perlowitz. They share their house with Yoshi, a Havanese-Poodle in West Palm Beach, Florida.