Posts Tagged: Entrepreneurial

Outside-In® Companies Announce Partnership with Delaware Association of Rehabilitation Facilities

April 21st, 2015

ID-100249468We are pleased to announce that we have entered into a new partnership with DelARF to benefit all of their members and offer talent management services in recruitment, temporary staffing, and outplacement.

DelARF is a statewide membership association of agencies supporting people with disabilities. Membership is open to organizations that provide direct services, advocacy and/or educational services to Delawareans with disabilities, their families and advocates.

“We know that talent can be a real difference maker in your company. We offer customer-centric talent services that can help you in the course of running your business!” says Outside-In® President, Chris Burkhard.

  • Do you have a need to hire key staff but don’t have the Human Resources staff to handle the recruitment process?
  • Have you considered using a temporary workforce to give you budget flexibility, but don’t know how to get started?
  • Do you experience highs and lows in hiring and need a steadier flexible recruiting stream that you can turn on and off as needed?
  • Is your company experiencing a reduction in force? If so, you need tools at your disposal to help your impacted workforce get redeployed quickly as you do the right thing for the community and for the brand you represent!

As a values-based company founded in Delaware in 2001, the Outside-In® team is committed to providing “Service to the Nth Degree”. If you are interested in learning more about these services, please visit or call our Newark office at (877) 746-8450.

Image courtesy of

Seasons: The Ultimate Agent of Change

March 26th, 2014

Spring is finally here. The temperature and my yard still look like winter; however, we can count on seasonal change. Ironically, we tend to look forward to this change. This winter is easy to forget as we all long for the warm sun and time outside! When the heat of Summer rolls in we will long for cool breezes and crisp Fall days! We accept these changes and embrace them. Why do we not accept other changes?

agent-badgeWith today’s world evolving and shifting right before us, I know most employees struggle with the notion of being an agent of change. Sometimes we all long for normalcy, safety, and just a little status quo. We find comfort in routine and the familiar. However, this is not really the way the world of work stays for long. I believe today’s worker has begun to romanticize the notion of being an agent of change. We all want to believe that we will be the ones that smile in the face of adversity, that take the bad news head on, that are willing to do whatever is asked of in order to live this value. Though truth be told, change is hard. We might have to give up tasks and duties we like and that give us energy. We might even have to take on new tasks that are brand new and unfamiliar, that we might struggle to grasp and master. As employees we might even do things we are not good at and never, ever saw ourselves doing. And when faced with change in reality your response can be very different than perhaps you want or even planned. Reactions to change are personal, unique, and ultimately up to the individual.

I have lived this first hand. Entrepreneurial founders face many crossroads and business challenges. During the “great recession” I found myself cleaning our offices on the weekends. I was also thrust back into leading, selling, and managing in a way I did not have to do for many years. We always have a choice with change. I actually fought it for too long. I ignored the recession, reacted slowly, we kept fighting, but we were not embracing the real realities of the new economy and its impact on our services and the marketplace.

Our goal at the Outside-In® Companies with change? To teach, discuss, equip, lead, educate, and work on our knowledge of the topic of change. We make it a value to remind us of our desire to be change-makers. We want our customers to envy our adaptive and flexible mindset. We want it to be an edge that we use daily to take advantage of business opportunities. And as a feature in working with us that provides our customers a one of a kind benefit. We find that our customers need to drive change and it is very hard work, but a partner that lives, breathes, and eats change seems to make their transition easier and less painful!

To be a true agent you must do more than be willing to be adaptive in your job and to the role you play in your company.  A true change agent seeks to understand why change is absolutely necessary to begin with.  Change is not just happening to you; change is constant for a business.  A business and its leaders must be making adjustments at all times, balancing goals with results, the external marketplace with internal resources, etc.  A company with a real advantage has to do less work convincing and influencing staff why change is necessary.  And gets to spend more time being productive!

The “No Flip” Entrepreneur

February 26th, 2014

Most entrepreneurs aren’t trying to create a technology revolution with an innovation that advances society in some unique way. That is just what the media reports because it makes for better articles. Imagine the impact of the twenty-something changing the world and selling it quickly for lots of money. Impressive for sure. And I imagine important in some way to our economy. Don’t get me wrong, I embrace technology as a tool in my business. Over 13 years, 52 quarters, and 156 months, I have operated and ran my company. I went into the details there for a reason. Most of us do not build our companies to flip them. Very few have goals to get Venture Capital or Institutional monies invested into their business. Even fewer have high hopes of an IPO.

smallgiantsMy goal was to run my company for nine years. This was in my first business plan. (Which, by the way, was 88 pages long!) Call it my Jerry Maguire version of the talent industry. The nine years were set to give me time to build it, boot strap it, grow it, sell it, and cash out. Then something happened. Call it life I guess. Time went by, we began to receive awards, and employees came and employees went. Markets changed for our services so we adapted and responded with new ones. The Economy roared and then spurted almost to a stop—Ironically in year eight! So, plans are set for a reason. Plans drive a stake in the ground. And when you get there you start all over again.

One of my mentors who runs a national consulting company once challenged me on my nine year plan, “Chris, do you like your company? Does it provide for you and your family as well as your employees? Do you serve customers that count on you?” Then he added, “Why not have it both ways? Enjoy and celebrate what you have accomplished and always work on making it better.”

I would rather focus on how my company or my customers can be profitable, create a measurable Outside-In® experience, and maintain a values based environment and culture that is unique, even quirky in its efforts to be authentic.

I want to have a “boring” company. Predictable revenues. Managed growth. I want to maintain a caring environment that not only focuses on the health and vitality of the culture, but also develops the discipline and practices to have a well-executed business strategy.

There are many entrepreneurial leaders out there that are in it for the long haul. We have worked long and hard to get our business’s out of the proverbial garage and into something relevant in our industries. We are Small Giants, forces to be reckoned with that don’t feel the need to sell out to be the biggest, but instead, choose to be the greatest.

Outside-In® Companies Make Smart CEO Future 50 List for First Time

November 1st, 2013

Guest blog spot by Caitlin Olszewski, Communications & Design Coordinator

Outside-In® Companies, CBI Group and Placers are very humbled to announce their inclusion on the 2014 SmartCEO Future 50 list. This prestigious award is particularly pivotal because it commemorates being able to excel and demonstrate continuous growth despite economic hardships.

F50.logo_.2011SmartCEO is a panel of business executives and esteemed mentors alike with the common goal of inspiring business development and innovation throughout the community. For more than ten years, Smart CEO magazine has been an outlet for leaders and entrepreneurs to tell their unique stories and plant the seed for future business leaders.

The Future 50 Award is an annual recognition that honors the fastest-growing, highest revenue grossing companies in the Philadelphia area based on a three-year average. The winners are then profiled in the January issue of SmartCEO magazine and are celebrated during a dinner ceremony.

Founder & CEO Chris Burkhard credits the success of the business to customer-centric leadership and living the Outside-In® way of life. “The Outside-In® Companies are pleased to be celebrating growth and market leadership with such an illustrious group of industry leaders!” said Burkhard. “The award symbolizes our hard work and our Nth Degree commitment to the customer. For us, this award represents being Outside-In®.”

CBI Group and Placers aspire to see continued advancement and success following the official partnership declared earlier this year with fellow Outside-In® Company Barton Career Advisors.

In addition to the Future 50 award, CBI Group has recently earned a spot on the Philadelphia 100 and Inc. 5000 list along with two ‘2013 Honors’ including a #11 ranking in the Top 100 Delaware Companies and a #69 ranking in Philadelphia Metro Area sub-categories.

Please click here, if you’d like to see the other 49 Smart CEO Future 50 winners.

12 Things You Get with the Entrepreneurial Employee

October 30th, 2013

Big global companies are looking for employees to be more entrepreneurial. What exactly does that mean? When we go to work for most jobs we must be productive during the time we work. Do the job, do what you’re told, and your contract with your employer is kept in tact. What is so different and unique about getting an employee with entrepreneurial drive?

  1. An entrepreneurial employee gets the rare opportunity to consistently redefine their role and, therefore, their contribution. You may have been hired for one thing, but you’re good at something else. Or more frankly, an opportunity emerges for those are willing to take a risk and go for it!
  2. By making something extraordinary happen, an entrepreneurial employee is rewarded. Doing your job is doing something innovative or special with that project.
  3. An employee can get exposure to bigger and different work much, much faster than they would in a large company.
  4. man-96868_640It is OK to take risks. In fact, risk taking is more likely to be rewarded. A big company wants to limit their exposure to risks. Small businesses know that well calculated and timely decision making can mean the difference between growth, a new market, or even if you win a deal.
  5. Change is something that is encouraged when staff is not defending/preserving what they have because there is much less power base or turf to lose. You must think differently. This is where an employee can see what is wrong and know that it is ok to speak up about it. These littlechanges make all the difference.
  6. Titles mean nothing to an entrepreneurial employee. Those that demand them rarely make it for long. The job must be about the work and the work must be about the learning experience and depth of the opportunities.
  7. Your status comes from your accomplishments. Your position comes from the quality of your relationships and influence on the business. This is simply small business culture.
  8. Entrepreneurial employees have an ownership mindset. Their work is a direct reflection of themselves. It is easier to gets things done. Less politics, less hands involved.
  9. Know that being a good teammate matters. There are fewer employees, and perhaps limited resources. However, entrepreneurial employees know that they must work on their teaming skills as work gets done with people—not because of fear, title, or demands!
  10. Entrepreneurial employees are accountable. They want to feel and see that they are truly making a difference.
  11. An entrepreneurial employee can answer the “why” question. They know why the company exists and its broader purpose. They are a part of something special; something bigger than themselves—and that shows.
  12. An entrepreneurial employee knows that they are deferring some of their potential income. They can always go get a job! But they get to be a part of so much more of how their company works. They are a part of crafting the company future and can see how their work contribution connects to it! And for that risk, they gain knowledge and work experiences that make them more marketable and give them the potential to be future business owners themselves!

shield-108065_640There are inherent differences between entrepreneurial organizations and big companies. An entrepreneurial employee likes a dynamic, evolving, and constantly changing environment. They thrive in companies with less structure and less certainty because there are more ways for them to innovate and to contribute. In small business culture they have the opportunity to be rewarded more in an environment where they are constantly learning and growing!

Finders. Minders. And Binders.

September 25th, 2013

ID-100170525Risk in the early years does not seem like risk at all! When I started my business and a customer sent over a contract to review I did not have the army of lawyers and professional service folks that are around to protect me today. The contract came in, I printed it off, read all 83 pages, learned as much as I could and then I signed it. Why? Most of that stuff isn’t going to happen anyway, right? Well, even though it was true, I signed it because making something happen in the business was a much better outcome than the alternative—watching lawyers markup and edit a document over and over again. The risk of signing a bad contract was lesser than the gain of working with a new customer, testing out our service line, gaining the revenues, cash flow, references, and the experiences that the contract provided.

This concept plays out across your entire business. My first employee was hired with a verbal acceptance. They worked for me for years and they had no offer letter—imagine that! We got along fine without a handbook. Everything was understood. We just stood and talked across the office. The purpose for the company was simple and clear.

Accounting was just as simple. We paid bills, invoiced customers, and made sure that there was enough money in the bank to do payroll. Then someone comes in to lead accounting and they want to build a budget like their last job in Corporate America. The budget process starts in the Fall, finishes by the New Year, and becomes outdated by February. Small business moves too fast and changes too much for a traditional budgeting process.

A business can expect to see this in all facets of the organization. The “little company that could” designs a marketing campaign and tries it without upsetting corporate. As the business grows, it eventually has a team whose job it is to keep that spirit and make marketing better. Staff members who often want to just go and fix things now have to remember who does what.  And in the process they often ask the question, “Why are we organized this way? It just slows us down…”

Years ago I heard a famous entrepreneur, the founder of Hercules, answer that question with a compelling speech about business and entrepreneurship. He shared that there are three types of people in business: finders, minders, 110819-Gulliksen-Slide3and binders. “Finders” start the business and figure out their market and their customer. They turn themselves and the business “outward” (Outside-In® in my world) and they focus on growth and winning. But as the business grows and gets more and more complex it requires different skills and expertise to keep advancing. Enter the “minders.” Minders are the functional talents that come in across the business to do a better job of keeping track of the company. Important and necessary. They are minding the store so to speak and helping create the scorecard of success.

And finally there are the “binders.” If you’re an entrepreneur this is where you exit perhaps. Binders are like the son who tells his Dad (a successful sandwich shop owner) to stop giving away free chips and pickles and to reduce his portion sizes because these are recessionary times. Of course the Dad listens and soon enough business is way down. The son was wrong! The binder ended up screwing up the secret sauce/brand promise of the sandwich shop. And a good business is withered away by the strain and scrutiny.

All three dynamics are contributing factors to the development of business. A finder’s role is to build the early business. Know when to bring in enough minders to keep the business orderly. Avoid the binder influence and phase of the business. Or know how to exit when the business achieves that level of “success.”

How an Entrepreneurial Mindset Encourages Innovation Within

August 14th, 2013

Photo credit: The New York Times

When I worked in corporate America one of the competencies I always thought needed improvement was political awareness. Truth is, I did not long to be politically aware. I wanted to stand up in a leadership meeting and share my own thoughts. One day, the Chairman of our company asked 60 of us a question to get our input. He wanted our thoughts, right?  Well little did I realize that even though the Chairman wanted our thoughts, his Senior Manager minions wanted to make sure our answers were approved, cleansed of imperfections, and void of insights that would make anyone in the room uncomfortable. In fact, it would have been best if we sat quietly, smiled, and let senior management solve the important problems of the company. Why even bother inviting us? I still ask that question, but now I kind of know the answer.

In corporate America, you are paid to do a singular job and paid well. Make sure you don’t rock the boat though! Remember, you’re paid to NOT rock the boat, to do your job, and to keep your head down. Alternatively, in most entrepreneurial companies, you are paid based on value that you create. Your ideas seem to matter more. Your actions and risks are more likely rewarded. Try it! Make something happen and take that risk! Most likely, nothing will happen immediately, but you’ll begin the build your confidence and aptitude towards continued risk-taking. Remember, everyone is valued to do their job and using their whole brain. Identifying something is wrong, fixing it and making the place better is a risk that is always rewarded.

Truth is, my story is flawed. The Chairman really did want our thoughts, but his culture would not allow it to happen. Politics, history, hierarchy, personal agendas, and poor leadership prevented him from getting what he so craved; which was an entrepreneurial entity that thrived from the bottom up. Where his employees could help him feel a part of something greater by being a part of the fix. None of us had the authority to participate and the fear of taking any risks. We knew that political correctness was rewarded, not risk taking.

So I started my company knowing I wanted to be the Chairman (funny thought) that could be trusted. Where risks are welcomed. In my company, there is no need for pre-meetings to make sure the staff know how to speak to me. At my company, the culture is transparent and free thinking is encouraged!

The Entrepreneurial Triumvirate: The Role of Teaching

July 31st, 2013

Leaders need to be teachers and trainers. As business gets bigger and more organized, training becomes a function, a department, a group of people that delivers content and curriculum that the company thinks is critical to the orientation and productivity of the employee base. However, I was taught that leaders need to focus on three key functions: Teaching, Leading and Selling. This is The Entrepreneurial Triumvirate!  I just made that up, but it works.

Photo credit: Business Insider

Many new leaders are confused about their role. Perhaps they were good at their job and someone thought they would be good in a leader role. Where does one begin to get good at Entrepreneurial Leadership? Well its starts with this simple premise. What do your people need in order to do their jobs? This is the essence of servant leadership. Sometimes – lots of times – they need to know things to work through how and what to do. Too many times we tell staff what to do versus show them what to do. We must learn to get out from behind our desk and work side by side.

I often see and observe leaders that grow in frustration with their staff and their performance. This comes down to a simple point. A leader’s job is to develop staff. Period. End of story. Leadership begins and ends here. Too many leaders replace or complain about staff competence. This is our job, to develop competence, give feedback, create an environment of learning. To make sure learning happens on the job, in the classroom, with a buddy, on their own. I think you get the idea.

Next time you see a gap as a leader will you develop the person or be frustrated? Remember, your only job is to develop people! Can you be as passionate about developing employees as our friend Jack Black is about teaching future rock stars?


Vacation and the Entrepreneur: 4 Ways to Allow Yourself Time Off

July 3rd, 2013

BeachIn the beginning, I never took a day off.  In fact, when I started my first company I worked over 300 straight days in a row. Weekends were just quiet moments to get more done until Monday rolled around. Then it was grow the business that week, until I could get to the next weekend to pickup the pieces.

Vacations? Well, no. I took my first vacation 18 months into the business to celebrate a wedding anniversary!  And then it was hit or miss for many, many years.

As a small business leader and coach, I have come to understand that time off is something that we make like a “badge of courage”.  Entrepreneurs and those that work for them need to view their time not as clock punching but rather as value creation.  This is the crux of the problem.  Value creation is intoxicating.  Growing your business, landing new customers, hiring new employees, solving big and little problems all are apart of increasing the worth or value of the business. Working in a small business is about taking some measure of risk with the possibility of reward. That value is the potential reward.

So what is the problem?  An entrepreneur’s world is all the same – and technology does not help.  We can be always connected. It is such a rush. To always wear the cape. To always be there for your staff or your clients for that answer or for direction. Until its not a rush. Every owner I have ever worked with goes through this vicious cycle.

“I have to work hard and create value.”

“I have to do everything because I am the business until I can hire staff to help with things I am not so good at.”

“I get in the habit of long, long hours and it becomes the way.”

One day you burnt out and you just can’t be effective anymore. Don’t get me wrong. You come to work. But as I have heard said, you vacation at your desk.  You’re not effective, focused, productive. In fact, at times you’re not even emotionally present.  You’re just physically present.

So what you do about it?  These are my learns.  Not my creations, but they work for me:

1.  Do not work one weekend a month. Turn it all off until Monday morning. This is so empowering.  And you know what? You get space to think because your not reacting or doing!

2.  Take time off.  Simple statement, but will you do it? The idea of recharging makes you better. Fresher. Stronger. And guess what?  If you have employees they can get along just fine without you. In fact, they will enjoy the break. I suggest one week every six months in the early years and more as you can do it.

3.  Set boundaries. I for one attempt to turn off all of the noise between 6-8 pm every day. This gives me a chance to workout. To be a Dad. To be a husband, etc. I find anything can wait two hours. (And the things that can’t have a way of finding you anyway!)

4.  Do not take your work with you on vacation. Disconnect.  Not my idea.  Harder to do.  However, if you do it you’re sending a message of trust and respect for those you have left in charge.  As they say, it is hard to stand with one foot in and out of the outhouse and make it work.  You’re either in or out!

An entrepreneur’s world is all one continual strand of DNA. Try to find the little vacations that can help you replenish and refill the reserves.

Passion or Profit?

May 29th, 2013

For many years I thought passion was all I needed to have success with my business. It is not true. Entrepreneurship (my personal definition mind you) is the balance of organization and structure with innovation and creativity in business. Can you really be too creative? Too market driven? Is it really that wrong to innovate constantly? Many entrepreneurs love the idea of being business. They love their invention, the technology, the notion of being in charge and out on their own. And I hear it all of the time. “Love what you do and the results will follow”. Of course, there is something to loving how you spend a majority of your waking hours. If you hate it, success is possible but not sustainable for long.

I am living proof of passion over profits. For many years, I pursued growth at all cost! (I am proud to say I am reformed growth junkie today.) I misunderstood the importance of running my company for profit. To leave money in the company. What did I do? I would reinvest it. Many times before I had it in hand! I have missed the point. I thought that top line revenues mattered more than anything – and frankly our egos and pride get in the way! Growth becomes intoxicating, but profits mean choice. They give you a point of comparison in our industry or market. Are you adding value more than your competition?

So few companies make it past the first few years and I have gotten clear as to why:

1.  We don’t know our numbers. As hard as it may seem, we don’t set and run our business to make money. We pursue growth. Growth takes cash. Fast growth often chokes a company.  We spend our profits on growth.

2.  We don’t realize that profits can drive innovation and investment. Most organizations have been damaged coming out of the recession. When facing new and big business opportunities few organizations have the reserves or resources to invest in new business opportunities!

3.  Our business strategy is the walking dead. Having a company that survives each month to the next one is common for most companies in the early years. But when do you need to look at making changes? Leaders find it hard to make tough changes to a business strategy, but business is designed to be profitable and must create a fair return for stakeholders.

4. When an entrepreneur is the only stakeholder, we rationalize. Sometimes there are advantages to having other investors.  I see entrepreneurs spend their life savings to invest in their business and to keep their business and dreams alive. However, business make money eventually!

So don’t get me wrong. Passion is a part of our purpose. And our purpose is why we get out of bed every day and go to work each and every day. But passion must be balanced with profits to have something sustainable for customers, employees,  and stakeholders.

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