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WTIA Now Offers Business Consulting Services to Help Startups Scale and Thrive
Startup founders and CEOs wear a lot of hats. They’re typically dyed-in-the-wool do-it-yourselfers who want to be involved in every aspect of their business, from choosing the accounting software to hiring human resources support. For that reason, business owners often find it hard to delegate, either to other employees or an outside business consultant—or they simply don’t have anyone to delegate to. Small business owners who are spending too much time on “non-core” activities of running their company may benefit greatly from the guidance and support of an outside consultant.
That’s why we are excited to announce that as of July 8, WTIA has begun offering business consulting services to tech companies as a benefit of basic free membership. We recognize that startup CEOs and founders desire ongoing support in all areas of their business, and we have the expertise and deep-bench experience to deliver that guidance. Business consulting services will be offered as a complementary benefit for tech company members through HR Benefits Inc., a WTIA subsidiary.
Why offer business consulting now?
Over the last 35-plus years, WTIA has become more than a tech industry trade association. We are rooted in the spirit of entrepreneurship, and our mission—to support a strong, sustainable tech sector and build a thriving community—is woven into our DNA. Therefore, we are heavily invested in providing startups the support they need to overcome their early growing pains and flourish so they can become strong members of the tech ecosystem in Washington state and beyond.
As a founder, how many times have you wished that you could talk to a seasoned entrepreneur who’s “been there, done that?” How many times have you wished you had a sounding board, a supportive ear to listen and help you make tough decisions for your company? Many of the WTIA member companies we surveyed during some targeted focus groups late last year told us that’s precisely what they want—they’re looking for “all hands on deck” support when it comes to growing and scaling their fledgling businesses. They want help making difficult decisions and facing common (and not-so-common) business challenges head on.
For the most part, our research found, the CEOs and founders who provided this feedback head up small tech startups with less than 50 employees, most of which are “lifestyle” businesses rather than high-growth companies. Lifestyle companies are solid businesses, but they typically don’t have the high-momentum growth trajectory of venture-backed companies, for instance. Examples of tech-oriented lifestyle businesses could include IT management companies, niched software providers, computer design and developers, and Internet-based organizations.
What we discovered is that these founders and CEOs truly want help navigating hands-on business development decisions they’re faced with every day: For example, how to outsource their HR function and payroll to the right providers, or how to “right-size” their health insurance to fit the needs of their company and employees. As the outcry for support grew, WTIA determined that we could be a meaningful resource to the entrepreneurs and startups we serve by offering business consulting services.
Why is WTIA qualified to provide business consulting?
HRBI’s business consulting offering will be led by Jim Roop, Business Consultant, an experienced leader and executive in the healthcare field. He has served as President and General Manager of Washington-based home healthcare agencies, as well as Vice President of Space Labs Healthcare, an organization dedicated to improving patient safety and overall care.
“I have a passion for helping CEOs and founders succeed and grow their companies,” says Jim. “The goal with this is not to sell products and services, although we’re happy to do so. This is about helping our member companies make mission-critical decisions for their businesses that will help them get to the next level faster than they might on their own.”
In addition, WTIA has a vast referral network of seasoned professionals that include leaders, executives, consultants and service providers at the ready to roll up their sleeves and get into the trenches with founders and CEOs. More specifically, they are HR consultants, CFOs, Chief Operating Officers, attorneys, accountants, entrepreneurs, and technology industry veterans.
“There’s a large group of very smart people who are eager to give back to the community while helping others continue to perpetuate our ecosystem of innovation and make our great state a hub in terms of developing new ideas and new ways of serving customers,” Jim notes.
That said, WTIA has rigorously high standards for entry into our professional referral network, and our partnerships will be carefully vetted and curated going forward.
What does WTIA business consulting include?
The four main things CEOs and founders said they wanted help with are:
- Obtaining the services they need to support, attract and retain their workforce
- Getting referrals to the right partners and service providers
- Saving time
- Saving money
WTIA business consulting accomplishes all of these goals and more. It’s like having another CEO, or CFO, or human resources executive, for example, on board without having to conduct an exhaustive executive search. In other words, business consulting services allow WTIA to provide “fractional support” to startups and, when necessary, act as a member of the executive leadership team without any compensation or equity changing hands.
The core offering is a comprehensive written business assessment. It starts with a 60- to 90-minute intensive, where our business consultants will meet with a company owner or founder to document their core business needs over the next 12 months. These might include human resources or employee benefits challenges, for example. Then, those needs will be summarized in the written business assessment, along with detailed recommendations from WTIA and its partners on how the owner can address these challenges and concerns, and a list of top providers who can help solve them.
Initially, business consulting services will be offered to member companies in Washington state. Down the road, however, the goal is to expand the offering beyond state borders, and potentially make it available on a national scale.
Ultimately, WTIA aims to continue to provide its members as much value as possible when it comes to building strong, sustainable businesses. “The impetus for free membership was to broaden inclusivity and reduce barriers to participation for the tech community,” Jim says. “Beyond giving companies the ability to access the community, we need to be helping them in their business right away and creating opportunities for them for the future. I like to think of this as a huge paradigm shift. It’s fundamentally in the fabric of the WTIA to help employers grow their business. And as their business thrives, the economy thrives, and that creates more opportunity for everyone.”
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