Gene Godick has always had an entrepreneur’s heart.
Even when he was at Arthur Andersen, his first job out of college, he worked in the small business practice. But it took a few more years, and a few runs as CFO at two different companies – one bootstrapped and one that went from VC backed to an IPO, before he decided to launch his own firm, G-Squared Partners, six years ago.
It was a serendipitous moment.
“Moving to California for another ‘job’ wasn’t an option because my kids were in high school and we didn’t want to move. Then, two VC’s, not related, both suggested that I start a new company in the Philadelphia area because the area needed the type of financial help that we could provide. And they both helped to get us launched.” He pauses and then adds with emphasis, “My wife thought I was crazy.”
He waded into the water, however, in spite of the doubts and started G-Squared Partners.
“I had three goals,” he shares. “One, replace my old salary. Two, not to write a business plan. I have a big belief that the market will tell you what the product is, and three, not to hire anyone for twelve months.” He hit the first two, but the last one he missed, ironically because the business grew so fast. “Within two months we were pretty busy and within nine months we added our first employee.”
The VC’s had gauged the market right. Gene’s firm grew rapidly. By the end of the third year, G-Squared Partners had more than tripled in size, grown to nine employees and was providing outsourced CFO services and strategic financial, accounting and operational expertise to CEO’s, entrepreneurs and VC-backed startups. In July of 2015 he began implementing the operating system from Verne Harnish’s “Scaling Up,” initially as a ‘do it yourself’ project.
Gene had used the EOS process at a prior company, so he had a little experience with implementing a business operating system. And the concepts from EOS come out of “Scaling Up.” He chose to use “Scaling Up,” however, because he needed a system that was more robust for G Squared, especially in light of their rapid growth and their growth goals.
1) Moving from DIY to full-fledged Coaching Partner
“Our biggest challenge was how rapidly we were growing,” Gene shares. “We were adding people, adding customers, initially implementing ‘Scaling Up’ by ourselves, but we weren’t getting the results that I wanted. When I met Eileen Wainwright at an Entrepreneur’s Forum, I decided we could use some help and decided to invest.”
With Eileen’s help and support, Gene and his team have deepened and refined the Scaling Up process.
“The best thing that Eileen has done is pull the senior team and employees together and gotten them aligned. The team has accepted more difficult ‘Rocks’ and they’re learning how to be accountable too.”
They’ve also worked hard to recruit younger employees and train them up, and the effort has paid off.
2) Focusing on the Future
“Early on I used to interview everyone. I’d always be looking for three things: One, could they hold a conversation? They had to be able to talk to CEO’s confidently and if they couldn’t talk with me, they wouldn’t work for us. Two, were they technically competent? And for that we have a GPA minimum and an eight hour take home accounting test.”
Gene’s third criteria? A strong work ethic.
“We work incredibly hard and put in a lot of hours,” he states simply. “But, we give them a ton of responsibility. They get to talk with CEO’s, build financial models, take part in our M&A work. Stuff that a 22-year old wouldn’t get to do at a big accounting firm. And, we’ve now developed a career path that is visible and compelling.”
Gene sums these criteria up succinctly, “Work hard, work smart, work together,” almost a G-Squared mantra.
3) Systematizing to Scale
But his approach to hiring and grooming talent wouldn’t work if the team at G-Squared didn’t refine and systematize their Talent process. And that’s where Eileen Peters, their Human Capital Manager, comes in.
“Eileen’s an accountant who’s great with people,” says Gene. “She’s systematized the recruiting process and streamlined it.” She’s also helped the firm to manage the “delegation” stage of growth by being there to address employees’ concerns and support their hiring and onboarding process. And, she’s worked to implement a buddy system and internal mentoring program for new employees.
“People quit their jobs because they hate their boss,” Godick says. “I don’t expect them to stay forever but if we provide them with an opportunity to grow and give them responsibility, they’ll stay longer and help us to scale the firm.”
The Results of their Dedicated Approach?
For the 2nd year in a row, G-Squared has been on the Inc. 5000 list. Growing at 20% a year for the past four years they are a true business “Gazelle” but what’s ahead for them?
Their 3HAG (3 Year ‘Highly Achievable Goal’) is to be $10 million in revenue through smart client acquisition but Gene, a big fan of Villanova basketball and their head coach, Jay Wright, will tell you that he’s only focused on winning the next game. And – staying focused on providing superior service to their clients, the accomplishment that Gene is most proud of over his six-year run.
“We still have almost all of our clients from 2014 and our best referral source in 2013 is still our biggest referral source. We’re the firm that they call when they have an issue, good or bad.”
He pauses. “And my wife hasn’t killed me,” he adds with a chuckle.
And if you still haven’t scheduled your own planning session for 2019, take advantage of our upcoming Scaling Up Public Workshop on January 16th!
You and your team will have the chance to work on your own One Page Strategic Plan™ AND get aligned and on the same page for 2019! Here’s the link for more information and to register.