Serving & Selling To Bigger Businesses with Bonova Advisory Founder Breana Patel

Serving & Selling To Bigger Businesses with Bonova Advisory Founder Breana Patel

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The Nitty Gritty:

  • What specific services and offerings entice large companies and organizations to hire boutique firms, like Bonova, instead of doing it in-house.
  • Why Breana’s always up-to-date on what her competitors are doing, what she and her team do to win proposals, and what the sales process looks like at Bonova.
  • How travel influences Breana’s perspective and positively impacts her business.
  • What systems Breana put in place at Bonova to make it easier for single moms to balance raising their children and working at the firm.

Today, my guest on Profit. Power. Pursuit. is Breana Patel, Founder and CEO of Bonova Advisory, a minority woman-owned consulting firm based out of New York City. She shares what working with large banking institutions and state/federal agencies with net assets of at least $10 billion looks like — and how the firm’s methodology and systems relate to owning, and growing, a small business.

Breana boasts over 17 years of leadership experience in addition to holding a Masters in Finance. Besides leading Bonova, she’s an Executive Fellow at MIT, non-profit board member, and angel investor. Listen to the full episode to hear Bonova’s sales process, how Breana wins proposals, and where she’s traveling to next.

We release new episodes of Profit. Power. Pursuit every week. Subscribe on iTunes so you never miss an episode.

On why large organizations choose small, nimble boutique businesses

Large organizations have large teams. When a change is introduced, it becomes too cumbersome for large teams to manage the change. We are boutique and we offer personalized services to our clients. This allows us to be nimble and agile in our approach.

— Breana Patel

As a small business owner, you might think it’s difficult to land a corporate client. Maybe you haven’t worked with one yet — or you just haven’t seen how what you do can meet their needs.

Let me give you an example. While some large organizations and corporations have an in-house graphic design team, they don’t have a branding specialist. Or maybe they have a content writing team but they don’t have an on-site SEO strategist.

This is where running a small, nimble business works well. You can jump right in and fill the gap between where the client is and where they need to go (without working the 9-5 yourself.) In our interview, Breana adds that most team members on these large teams have daily responsibilities so they simply don’t have the time to contribute to a new project or big change happening at the company.

Think about what you do best, whether that’s personal branding, content strategy, or team building. What’s different and unique about what you do — and how does hiring you or your team fill the gap for a larger organization?

On winning proposals (and being the best at what you do)

It’s always good to know what’s going on in the market and what others are doing, but you have to be best at what you do. When we put in our proposal, we win because of the type of the in-house methodologies and frameworks we’ve developed, the type of the resources we have, and the experience that we bring on board.

— Breana Patel

Breana shares her process on winning proposals — and it’s not just down to price. It’s because of everything else that she and her team bring to the table. This is a good reminder for small business owners: that you can grow your business not just on the experience you bring to the table (also important!) but also based on the service that you provide clients.

For potential Bonova clients, it’s not just about price: they’re attracted to the realm of opportunities from working with Breana’s team that goes further than their collective experience: strategy, additional training, and post-implementation training.

What ways can you level up your services? How can you differentiate what you do from the competition? How can you provide value to your clients and potential clients right now? All good questions to ponder.

On travel’s positive impact on business and life

Travel’s played a major role in my life. Travel leads to open-mindedness and understanding of various cultures. And since I understand so many cultures, I’m able to understand the thought process behind certain actions taken by individuals and the psychology behind it.

I’m in a business which is heavily reliant on people. Because of travel, I’m able to break the ice and start talking to any person from anywhere in the world. It’s helped me connect with different people from different backgrounds.

Plus, innovation and creativity is fostered when a variety of people from different cultures, experience, personality, etc. work together. So this helps us creatively solve challenges and understand global markets.

— Breana Patel

Have you ever heard a more compelling reason to travel more that would benefit your business?

While not everyone enjoys traveling, for Breana, there’s a bridge between travel and her ability to connect with anyone. And when you work within a global marketplace, it’s even more important to understand different perspectives and motivations.

Think about your clients: what are some ways that you can expand your understanding and beliefs to benefit your relationship with them? While you may not be able to travel, watching movies and documentaries or reading books can provide a window into different cultures and perspectives to help you bridge the gap.

Listen to the full episode with Breana Patel, Founder and CEO of Bonova Advisory, to hear more on winning proposals, working with large-scale clients, and empowering women.

the gift of stiff competition: what to do when your bright idea is someone else’s too

Starbucks is often credited with putting mom & pop coffee shops out of business. But this is a bad rap.

Just how many mom & pop coffee shops – slinging espresso & steaming soy milk – were there before Starbucks became a household name? Not as many as there are now. That’s for sure.

Has that hurt Starbucks business? Nope – not a bit.

It also hasn’t hurt the mom & pop coffee shop business. Main street espresso bars open up to a willing audience. No one to “convert” to $4 coffee drinks, we hand over our hard earned cash wholeheartedly.

Having a Starbucks on one corner & an indie on the opposite is great for both businesses. The Starbucks marketing behemoth causes awareness. Indies cause fierce loyalty. Both experience a raised [coffee] bar.

Here is a perfect example of where competition causes business to thrive – not die.

But what about you & your tiny business? Can your business accept the gift of stiff competition?

Lea wrote in last week with a question about competition. Or the possibility of competition. And what to do about it when you want to build your network, your community, and your customer base.

I’m still trying to pinpoint my focus.  I’m a Gemini, so of course I want to do it all.  I think because I want to do it all, I am reluctant to point my peeps to people who are doing what I might want to do.  Does that make sense?  At the same time, I understand that we all do what we do in unique ways, and a major intention of mine is to provide resources for indiepreneurs and to create a network with sense of community.  So I want to kick this miserly inclination without kicking myself in the behind.

Just like with indie coffeeshops and Starbucks, the online community is a place where competition can cause us to thrive not die. Instead of considering your actions in reaction to others, consider how your actions & your business is complementary to others. This is not a zero-sum game. This is about cooperation – not competition, in the traditional sense.

Not sure where to start? Consider these three ways to view your competition as allies in your mutual success.

Have you been suffering from a lack of direction?

Take a look at your competition. What’s their angle? What do they offer? What are their strengths?

When it comes to direction, the gift of competition is simple: it forces you to clarify what makes you great. Competition allows you to see how your unique talents fit a hole in the market.

Competition asks you to identify what sets you apart, amplify those talents, and present them to your audience in a way that says, “This is what I’m all about!”

Once you differentiate, you’ll find that decisions are easier to make, sales pages are easier to write, and attention is easier to garner.

Have you been suffering from a lack of clients?

Good news: competition is great for boosting your client load.

When I wrote my first ebook, it was really the only ebook available to the Etsy-style arts & crafts market. It was a tough sell – $15 for a pdf? Really?

Over time, more & more people have released ebooks. Some very similar to mine. The more & more ebooks are on the market, the more I sell.

Similarly, I call myself a business coach. Google “creative business coach” and I rank pretty highly. But I notice more & more creative business coaches setting up shop every day. This hasn’t effected my client load at all. I’m coaching more than I ever have and have clients wait listed 6-8 weeks in advance.

The fact is that a year ago, far fewer people were searching for business coaches. There simply was no demand. Because more people are calling themselves business coaches, more people are looking for the services of business coaches. The supply has led to an increase in demand.

Don’t shun your competition. Welcome it. Work together to increase the awareness of your product or service.

Have you been suffering from a lack of support?

We all know the hardest part of working for yourself is having only yourself for company.

You’ve been tempted – admit it – to court your competition as friends & supporters. But then you thought better of it. You decided that would be silly. Trade secrets and all that…

My best friend offers creative business consulting services. For quite a bit, her services cost less than mine. She sells ebooks. We serve a similar market. We know similar people in need of our services.

Doesn’t bother me in the least.

Your competition can be your greatest allies. They will expand your horizons (and you them), they will inspire you (and you them), and they will teach you what you need to get to the next level (and you them).

These truly are the gifts of stiff competition. Are you willing to accept them?