Keith Scandone | Crain's Boston

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Keith Scandone

Background:  

Keith Scandone is CEO of and a partner at O3 World, a Philadelphia-based digital product-design and -development company providing solutions through web, mobile, e-commerce and application development. With a background in tech, Scandone focuses on O3 World’s sales and marketing, guiding the company's strategic direction and growth. 

The Mistake:

My mistake was relying too heavily on one account or client.

When a client knows you’re relying so heavily on them, they have opportunities to leverage and take advantage of certain things. It takes your eye off the opportunity to expand a client roster beyond them.

Our business was on a project-to-project basis, and we were in a constant sales cycle. We took a step back and recognized that the client roster we had was really good and one we could be proud of. It took a long time to get [those clients], so instead of consistently looking for new and additional ones — which we still do — we tried to spend more time and attention on the existing ones. We wanted to build that relationship and provide more value. In addition to the one project they gave us, we tried to provide more ideas on how we could help them.

You never want to act out of desperation to hang on to one client because you’re afraid to lose them or that revenue. If you’re more balanced, it allows you to focus not equally among other clients but [instead] on the offerings you’re providing.

Say 'no' more frequently, or take time to think before saying 'yes.'

The Lesson:

I learned to say “no” more frequently, or take time to think before saying “yes.” When you’re new in business, you’re scratching and clawing and just want to be successful. You want to get new business, maintain the business, make sure there’s cash in the door to pay your team and for everything in the organization. You feel the need to say “yes” more often [to clients] than you should. Sometimes saying no is a better business decision, financially and otherwise.

When considering a business or financial opportunity, our company now approaches decision points. We look at the project, the engagement, the technology, the industry and the impact we can have. We’re looking at the money aspect to some degree, but we look at how it will move our business forward, how it’s going to challenge our team and allow them to move forward. We look at the brand equity of the relationship, the potential long-term engagement and the value of it.

I don’t believe in being in business just to do whatever’s necessary to make money. I think you have to take a lot of things into consideration to have a healthy, ethical business. 

Keith Scandone is on Twitter at @keitho3world.

Photo courtesy of O3 World 

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