Next Steps

An Ann Arbor consultant works exclusively with Stage 2 companies.


Successful entrepreneurs turn creative ideas into profitable businesses. But as a company grows, managing multiple employees can overwhelm an entrepreneur, at the expense of that creativity.

“We have clients who get their businesses to around 10 employees and, the next thing you know, all their time is spent managing people,” says Dave Haviland, founder and CEO of Phimation Strategy Group in Ann Arbor.

Phimation consults with Stage 2 firms — companies past startup mode that require additional resources to reach sustainability — and suggests ways they can develop steadily. One simple idea to wean an entrepreneur from management duties is to hire a CEO or COO, Haviland says.

“Some of our clients have worked crazy hours just to stay on top of things, and they don’t realize that all they were doing was putting out fires instead of focusing on growth strategies,” Haviland says. “It’s tough to see the forest when you’re in the middle of it.”

John Forte, president and CEO of Forte Belanger, an event design and catering firm in Troy, says he hired Phimation to assist with sustainability and planning issues. One area of advice centered around developing a common theme before making important business decisions.

“When we look at a new endeavor, for example, we’re asking whether it will provide long-term growth, will it be profitable, and can we still have a healthy work/life balance,” Forte says. “We’ve also worked on team-building. It’s been working, because we’re adding staff.”

—R.J. King

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