Archive for May, 2005

Facility Resource Partners

May 25, 2005

Launched yet another business today called Facility Resource Partners. It’s a professional consulting company focused on facilities projects and other short term corporate real estate needs.

The market is unique in that it is both underserved and in high demand. Two factors that contribute to this situation are the rise in corporate real estate ownership and the minimal organizational structure of facilities and corporate real estate departments.

Some of the services we’ll be offering are lease analysis, lease audit, temporary facilities management, emergency facility response, computer aided facility management software selection and implementation, facility knowledgebase, and basically everything from lease signing to move in. The services are a good match for facilities and corporate real estate departments in companies that are expanding, merging, or just need temporary or project help from facility management professionals.


What do you look for in a bid?

May 19, 2005

As the principal consultant of Ralston Ventures, generating new business is almost as important as performing the service.

Some of my projects come about through a proposal and bid process. It generally works pretty well, but often you don’t get the work for reasons unknown to you. Projects sometimes never get off the ground or your bid is for reference with another vendor, you learn to accept the good with the bad.

Well today, I had a potential client tell me my bid was TOO LOW! Actually, the client was another vendor who was subcontracting out the work, which is why I think there was something funny going on. I’ve heard of a lot of shady business practices in these situations, such as the client taking a kick back from the sub to get the work.

With that in mind, make sure you require your vendors to show you any proposals and responses, and let you make the decision, so you’re in control!

Office Space for 1

May 12, 2005

Most people realize that small businesses make up a large percentage of the business population. However, I think the boom in real estate and mortgage brokerage has actually made self-employment even more popular.

Paul Graham agrees (one of those guys with a phd and millions), going as far as predicting the end of hiring. He thinks companies should hire people by buying the companies they’ve started at an early stage, which gains both talent and product development.

It’s not unthinkable, but there’s one hurdle – office space. Even in a big real estate market, the 500-1500 sf office (2-6 employees) doesn’t exist on a scale to support the growing start-up movement. Landlords won’t divide big spaces in hopes of big tenants, real estate brokers won’t represent small companies because of lower commission potential, credit, and hassle, and small companies run when asked to sign a 3 or 5 year lease and steep lease rates.

Many professionals I know have very successful businesses, but office space just isn’t available. The best CPA in Orange County doesn’t have a traditional office, and neither does Ralston Ventures.

Maybe that’s an advantage of big metropolitan areas like SF and NY, which have creative real estate options like lofts that can house a small business. And maybe it doesn’t matter with ubiquitous wireless internet, email, cell phones, blackberrys, and all the other stuff we use.

Offshore getting a little closer

May 3, 2005

There’s a new start-up on the horizon (literally) called Seacode that promises to change the outsourcing game. If you’ve accepted the issues involved with outsourcing, then you’ll probably agree that this is one heck of an idea. From my days consulting for Vendor Management & Outsourcing at Experian.

For all of you refusing to talk about outsourcing, here are the problems you get with cheap labor half-way around the world:

  • You have to wake up at 3 am to talk to the team
  • You dictate over a speakerphone but never discuss
  • You never keep the same team for more than 3 weeks
  • So now you’ve got a ship sitting in the same time zone of your office, that you can get to in a couple hours, and they’re committed to be there for 4 months! To top it off, I can only imagine how happy some computer programmers are going to be working where many people vacation.

    You know Google loves this idea because of the effort they set forth to keep people at the Googleplex. They spend millions trying to keep smart people at work. Now they can put them on a boat in the middle of the ocean with a computer and a buffet dinner.

    With all that hype, I don’t think it will work. The 3 guys trying to pull it off aren’t smart enough. At best they’ve got a business plan – no money, no boat, no contracts, no protection. How can you have a great business idea and give it away like this? You’ve setup zero barriers to entry, and it’s only a matter of time before someone like Google or Microsoft eats your lunch.