For many years leading up to this day, Key Bridge has been more or less an idea, concept, project, in planning mode. Maybe it was fear holding me back or my tendency to pick apart every business turned on my own that prevented this from coming to fruition sooner. The idea now is to build a global network of business owners, entrepreneurs, and executives who are dedicated to building better assets, tackling global challenges, and advancing the greater good. Where I think Key Bridge can add the most value is through a deep understanding of what drives business and financial success, and the necessity of having an unbiased, almost clinical, approach to the actions and decisions required to achieve it.

We started strong in 2014 and I was fortunate to have other people with me. Some have gone on to run million dollar businesses. Today is all that matters though and after a long pandemic break, I’m starting to build again. This post is dedicated to all the notes taken from the last few years. It’s a kitchen a sink of my mind and the meeting of the minds with over a dozen other people through the years. Thanks Alex, Scott, Matt, Janice, Daniel, Greg, Sandy, Allegra, Kinsey, Mary, Ed, Joe, Mo, and any of the others who I forgot.

Warm Regards,
Jonathan Poland
Founder + Managing Director

WhyUs?


At first, the idea was to provide business leaders with a membership and consult with them through a multitude of organizational challenges. This generally meant working on a few standard areas and helping allocate capital for business development outcomes. BizDev is still a catch all for growth, just for some businesses that means efficiency via better processes and policies and training instead of just revenue generation, but at the end of the day no sales no profit no business.

I thought Key Bridge could offer a few novel things within a flat fee structure plus charge incentive fees based on value added results. The trouble with this thought was creating a tribe mentality. Not that tribes are bad, they crop up in every company, industry, locality. It was more about time spent within the tribe we’d create. See the dilemma of consulting work is that success is dependent on the business as much as it is your own efforts.

A consultant could be Lebron James of the industry, if the client doesn’t have the capital or the ability or fortitude to do what it takes, it won’t work. Success has three parts: mastering the fundamentals, allocating capital at scale, and adjusting with market changes. The biggest thing that separates leading organizations and everyone else is the ability to pouring capital into trying new ideas and then scaling what works faster than others. News ideas breeds novelty and the market adores novelty. Also, ideas aren’t the job of the top leaders of the business, it’s their job to allocate capital.

These concepts were gained by spending 20 years, 40,000+ hours analyzing and forecasting publicly and privately held companies for high net worth investors. I started Key Bridge on the back of this education to help build better assets for smaller organizations by “bridging” the gaps along the way from the front lines to the executive suite. The gaps are everywhere and need to be rather customized to the role, size, function, industry, etc. I think there are usually multiple good solutions to achieve better results and make more money across every aspect. That’s where the art of business comes in.

Where I thought we could add value…
increase long term stability and value extraction
learn and implement the best practices of large firms
expand time through delegating and prioritizing
sustainable revenue and profit growth (with inflation)
develop and execute a social engagement strategy
create a core narrative, adjust marketing plan
hire, train, and retain the right talent
improve customer service, experience
plan for ownership transition or exit / sale
remain relevant, stay ahead of industry trends
cooperatively lobby governments
cooperatively reduce costs with suppliers
benefits and executive wealth planning
ensure appropriate legal compliance measures
develop custom business strategies and tactics
help make better capital allocation decisions
create plans, policies, and procedures to handle every operational aspect
and so many other ideas that arise by working together….

and more specifically…
Create a core business playbook
Perform a key value analysis
Work on short term engagements
Offer unlimited 1:1 access via text and email
Weekly strategy sessions
Zero commission supplier referrals
Private and confidential interactions
Curated advice, resources, connections database
Dashboard for business (partner with or create own)
A growing network of experts to help members

Questions


Questions to guide decisions…
Are you looking to grow or get out?
Is this a business or a career?
What is your core vision of the business?
How serious about your business are you?
Why’d you get into this line of business?
What do you think you sell?
What is your cost to make it?
What are your current expenses?
What do you pay your employees?
How do you go to market? (list all the ways)
Would you say your records are in order?
Have your costs risen faster than your sales?
Do you invest your cash flow outside the business?
Do you have to buy equipment or property often?
Do you have any research or development costs?
What’s your ad budget? Where is it spent?
Do you have a social media strategy?
Do you have a mobile ready website?
Do you even have a website that is 2014 ready?
How could you increase the prices of your products?
How could you increase the number of times customers buy?
How could you increase your customer base?
How could you increase your employees pay?
How do you run your meetings?
Would you say they are productive?
Would you say you’re proactive or reactive?
Are you holding weekly meetings on your impact areas?
How can you get your troops congruent with the same message?
Do you steadily repeat core material into your organization?
What kind of first impressions are you making?
How important is confidentiality to you?
How do you spend your time daily?
How many hours a week are you working right now?
If you didn’t show up one day, what happens?
Who are your best buyers?
What are your ambitions as an owner?
Do you have a job or a business?
Do you have a plan for business and marketing?
What are your high impact areas?
Have you created a core story for your business?
Do you have a training platform for your employees?
Are you using tribal method of training? Or, systematic?
Have you set minimal acceptable requirements for every area of the business?
Are your employees performing each aspect of their jobs consistently?
What’s the ideal procedure for initial contact with a client?
What are the 5 questions you’ll ask every client?
What are the 10 follow up procedures that you insist upon?
How fast can you grow?
How much focus do you give to the 3P’s? (planning, policies, procedures)
Are you spending at least one hour a week “on” the business?

and more specific questions… 

Strategy:
Where do you see your business going in the next 5 years?
What is the driving force for you to be involved with this business?
What does your business aim to accomplish?
If there was one message you could send to all of your clientele what would it be?
How did you did you end up in this business? (How long?)
If there was one thing you could change about your business what would it be?

Brand Narrative:
Do you set quotas for your business? (What are they?)
What has been the most effective way to obtain new business?
Do you use social media to market your product?
Do you use your website to assist you in converting sales?
Do you track your marketing and sales? (What has been effective, converted sales, follow up method)
What do you do to retain clients? (Repeat customers)
How long is your sales cycle?
How do you predominantly get your message out to prospective clients?

Technology:
When was the last time you had your website updated?
Do you track how many visitors, sales conversions ect the site has?
Do you post on social media or have someone else do it?
Do you interact with current and/or prospective clients via social media?
Which social media platform do you use?
Do you think a functioning website and social media platform is a key component to running a successful business?
How do you use your website and social platforms to create an advantage for your business?

Operations:
How difficult is it for your business to keep sufficient inventory?
What are the most important processes/procedures you have implemented to ensure success?
What is the most important relationship you have outside of the one with your clients? (Suppliers)
What is the one area of your operations that would need the most assistance?
How do you assess if a procedure is working?
What would you consider your biggest strength? (The thing you worry about least)

Talent Development:
What is the first thing you look for when hiring someone for a position within your company?
Where do you find your talent?
What is the hiring process? (Apply, interview, phone, in person, do you do it yourself, HR)
How much time is spent on training new employees?
Do you keep up to date with new methods and training?
How often are employees being retrained and given new training to develop new skills?
What incentive do you give to retain the workers you have trained?
How do you determine who is a good employee?
What can someone do to get fired in your eyes?
How do you keep your employees accountable for the training they have received and the work that they do?

Finance:
Do you do your accounting in house or have you hired someone outside to do the work?
How do you budget for the the different departments of your business?
What part of your business do you believe is most important to reinvest in?
Do you have a strategy to invest the money that your business brings in?
Do you take advantage of all the tax breaks for owning a small business?
How often are you assessing where your business is and where it is going?

Risk Management:
Do you have legal representation who specializes in your type of business?
What processes/procedures do you have in place to ensure you are compliant within the scope of your business?
Have you ever had an issue with compliance that caused harm to your business or reputation?

Keep ItSuperSimple


Business is complex and humans are complicated, so keeping it super simple is as much an oxymoron as it is mandate. Praxeology, the study of human behavior in economic terms helps make things as simple as possible, because despite the rise of machines, businesses are still created by and for the benefit of people. I believe that business is the lifeblood of progress. People start businesses, success turns to profit, and profit is allocated to growth and progress.

Why is there a profit? The uninitiated would conjecture its because of worker exploitation. Where it actually comes from is serving the customer, which is generally an end consumer. A business needs profit to survive, and it’s only in the intelligent re-allocation of the profit where growth is possible. There are plenty of businesses that don’t grow, most of them in fact. More importantly, you are the driving force regardless of where you fit in the value chain. Namely, because anyone that spends their time, money, or resources for the potential of greater economic rewards is a capitalist in my book.

Capitalists benefit society twice: first by bringing useful goods to market and then by giving back through consumption, investments, charity, and taxes. Almost every nation enjoys the fruits of this minority, yet they are, at times, the group that receives the most anger directed toward them. Whatever is thought of the social system called capitalism, history has shown it to be the best path to freedom and prosperity for all of us, not just the few with the power. The problem is conflating real  capitalism, which is built on limited government, individual rights, privately owned property, and open market competition for socialism with capitalists involvement. I digress…

You’re in an ultra competitive market and times are changing rapidly. My goal (at least in the beginning) with Key Bridge is to become a zero equity partner with small business owners (like yours) to help them get full value from their venture and because of the framework we use, and our services are less expensive for similar or better results. To borrow a statement: we help leaders and future leaders across industries work smarter and faster by providing provocative insights, actionable strategies, and practical tools to support capital allocation decisions.

Along the lines of membership based consulting was an idea for advisory blocks, topics spanning the core areas of business (e.g. strategy, operations, etc.) and the deeper parts within them (e.g. advertising, planning, product development) all of which add up to better business development. The idea at first was to partition them out as matter specific micro-engagements with 30 day cycles. The thought was that there are eight core pillars, nine if you include “outliers,” that a business is built upon. This foundation has many different parts that can be challenging to every business, but not at the same time.

The question I started with was “how can Key Bridge be a global advisor to as many businesses as possible?” The answer: almost impossible. The amount of talent and structure we’d have to create seemed daunting, especially if the idea was to charge $500 per matter per cycle. Sure, we’d be able to build some big time billings with some members, but most would be one offs here and there. That would be fine if we could get a team of experts to work with us or hire a ton of people with generalized knowledge. I was thinking SeekingAlpha contributors working as consultants.

The next question was how many matters would they have to take on to incentivize them to be good to great? For instance, if the average consultant makes around $100 an hour, the monthly benefits package would need to be roughly $20,000 to retain “average” consultants. Working with us would mean mostly dealing with businesses in the local region of the consultant and simple math told us that 50 matters a month would be sufficient after a 20% cut. Then it comes down to time constraints and member priorities.

Fact is that some people and businesses require more attention than others. That’s why we ditched this plan for the flat rate per quarter idea since companies set quarter over quarter goals generally and some strategies take time to implement. At $5,000 per quarter, each of our consultants (we call them CXO’s as in chief experience officers) would need to handle just 12 members and could easily double that as we grew. And, there’s the rub. $5k per quarter is $20k per year, which is equivalent to 33 weeks at DC minimum wage rates. Small businesses may not be able to afford that or want to pay that, especially as the idea was to add incentive fees on value added results… like if we brought in a big deal or found a huge budget discrepancy.

Then, the question was “how and where can we outsource deliverables?” This led to about a year working on affiliations and partnerships, many of which never panned out. All in all, it’s been difficult to work out the right structure for deliverables at the cost we need it. Sure, we can join GLG or BNI or use Freelancer, Fiverr, UpWork (which we do) but we wanted an internal database of suppliers, and that takes time. Sure anyone can access the 10+ million freelancers out there, I just didn’t want to be running negative balances in the process.

Notes


Mission
To build a global network of business leaders, privately owned residences, and CXO’s helping allocate capital to build better assets and tackle global challenges that advance the greater good.

Keep It Super Simple
One membership fee to join
Annual fees (maybe waived?)
Additional fees based on activity
Hire CXO’s to work with members
Build network of “Residences”

Membership…
1. through Challenges
2. through Invitation
3. open to all…?

Goals…
Advance capitalism
By challenge capitalists
To build better assets
Which drive progress

Ideal scenario?
1. Work off my phone or tablet
2. Work anywhere I can need want
3. Work (mostly) with people I want
4. Allow employees to do the same

Daily Work…
Reach out to business owners
Get their expertise on their industry
Organize the knowledge on KB site
Will they want to share? And why?
Share expertise and experiences.

Ultimate Vision?
1. Own a network of residences worldwide
2. Own a portfolio of market beating equities
3. Help business leaders build better assets
4. Advance capitalism. Support capitalists.

What are the deliverables…
* any benefit that is delivered by us or a third party
* any value added result delivered to the client
* any advice delivered by a third-party
* any product or service provided by a third party
* any capital resource (money, labor, etc.) provided by a third party
* any connection delivered by us to a third party

What we do?
* Curate Analysis, Resources, Connections
* Consult on unlimited business matters
* Find and facilitate opportunities, deal flow
* Help improve quality, value, impact
* Business is just investments and deliverables
* Create initiatives. Build + Manage projects
* Advise leaders, build businesses.
* Bridge gaps between challenge/achievement
* Consult at every level of business development
* Consult from the executive suite to front lines
* Use business analysis to build initiatives for members

What we believe?
1. business is the lifeblood of progress
2. capitalists are the driving force
3. building better assets = progress

Areas of Business
(where we help)

1. Strategy
2. Innovation
3. Operations
4. Organization
5. Technology
6. Narrative (Sales/Marketing)
7. Finance
8. Risk
9. Outliers

Business is…
1. Investments
2. Deliverables
3. Accounting (wa wa)

Framework
* Test, Adjust, Optimize
* Impact, Quality, Value
* Advisor, Agent, Advocate
* Allocate Capital (what we do)

Why us…
1. Action > Analysis
2. Test, Adjust, Optimize (anything)
3. Improve quality of investments
4. Improve value of deliverables
5. Improve impact in marketplace
6. Build better assets
7. Tackle global challenges
8. Advance the greater good
9. Business analysis = better advisory

How to win?
1. Master the fundamentals
2. Adjust to market changes
3. Allocate capital at scale
4. Improve quality, value, impact
5. Test, adjust, optimize everything possible

Test
Test new strategic
ideas and plans

Adjust
Adjust current strategies
for stronger efficacy

Optimize
Optimize the strategies
that work best to scale

Quality
Improve the quality of
strategic investments

Value
Improve the value of
strategic deliverables

Impact
Improve strategic impact
in the marketplace

How we win?
1. Having members that want to and can win (above)
2. Bridge the gaps for accelerated results
3. Allocating member fees to new ideas for progress.
4. DADA: Decision, Action, Data, Analysis (repeat)
5. Partnering with local businesses to protect and grow

What do “others” give their members?
curated programming and content
broker interactions, p2p
library of content, archives
mostly fluff built on content
content is mostly fluff as well
some is probably actionable insights
some do shit like projects, placements
meetings are for networking (?)
insights are for actions or influence
projects for initiatives (likely money and influence)
most say they’re impartial… (hmmm)
some (CoreClub) have a physical location
some give experiences: food, travel, events
some are concierges for life management
building relationships with members seems priority
business growth via relationships and information

Framework
Quality, Value, Impact
Test, Adjust, Optimize
Analysis, Resources, Connections
8 areas of business
Unlimited topics

Ideas
Front end, business development resource
Slowly but surely build out and get attention
Make it something people want to work on
No hype. No ads. No commissions. No upsells.
All resource, membership is never mentioned on site…
Build a platform that can be used to sell whatever we want!
Business is the lifeblood of progress. We…
We bridge the gaps… we find and facilitate
Why? Learn, Share, Profit, Progress
Why? Advance capitalism… the greater good.
What? Network of business leaders
What? Better assets = better world
Improve Quality, Value, Impact across key value drivers.
Test, Adjust, Optimize for VAR.
VAR = Value Added Results
Triple A: Advisor, Agent, Advocate
Action > Conversation

How to be different?
Allocate capital better (TAO)
Improve existing orgs (QVI)
Austrian economics
Local > Global … local communities, globally.
Advancing capitalistic ideals
Supporting capitalist endeavors
Curating the world’s knowledge to build better assets
Value Added Results
Tap into expert networks for work with our members
We turn thought leadership into results with members
Smaller network, larger value per member
Employees are CXO’s not directors or consultants
We do not have Chapters, we have Residences
We operate as one membership, not local franchises
We do not hold meetings or events gratuitously

Truths
Very few businesses grow from $1 million to $10+ million in sales, regardless of what they offer. That’s why those companies get most of the money. That’s why people have to / should / must invest in other assets that create steady interest.

All leaders play on the field of capital allocation, that’s where the competition is and include people, info, resources, cash, etc. Success is built by mastering the fundamentals, allocating capital at scale, and adjusting to market changes. Leaders can do this by extracting maximum value from their decisions.

We Can…
We can advise leaders.
We can build businesses.
We can build a marketplace.
We can build a platform.
We can allocate capital.
We can work with businesses
We can work with individuals.
We can advance capitalism.
We can support capitalists.

Allocation Service (if)
You have an idea, problem, etc.
You have a dollar amount budgeted
You hire us to allocate that capital for a fee
You send us the capital OR earmark it
We take that allocation, use it to get a result
Whatever that result is… business related.

Membership Service (if)
You pay the annual fee to be able to put us to work
We take the annual fee and fund certain areas of research
We issue challenges to improve quality, value, impact
We create initiatives that pool member resources
We allocate member capital to their own specific targets
Support members across business endeavors and lifecycles

Directory Services
Annual fee
Unique page
Promote Product / Service / Bio
We build and maintain
Highly curated
Use to tell a story
Apply to list
Provide some additional benefits
First in line for membership??

Longer list of thoughts on community?
Bridge the gaps
Between challenge and achievement
Between trust and transaction
Build better assets
Tackle global issues
Zero equity partner
Unbiased advice
Dedicated resources
Advice on unlimited matters
Resources for any endeavor
Connections to people and deals
Challenges to improve quality, value, impact
Initiatives pooled capital, specific goals
Business development
Carefully selected resources
Zero ads, zero upselling
Insights and ideas, curated
For business leaders
Original thinking, trusted expertise
Whatever it takes
Chief Experience Officers
Blank slate for… (profit and progress)
Results based expertise, deliverables
Source and procure deliverables
Small, medium, large endeavors
Finding and facilitating (fill in the blank)
Deal flow, personal interactions, new opps
Customized to member specific situations
Fully customized deliverables
Pooled capital resources
Improve quality of investments
Improve value of deliverables
Improve impact in the market
Work on key global issues
Test, adjust, and optimize ideas to scale
Achieve better outcomes
Adhere to a core set of principles
Curated deliverables
No fees to promote partners
No ads or sponsors
No affiliate commissions
Goal: global network
Business is the lifeblood of progress
Endless cycle of investments and deliverables
Master the fundamentals
Re-allocate capital at scale
Adjust to market changes
Capital risk and renewal
Zero Equity Partner
Chief Experience Officer
Profit and Progress
Build better assets
Tackle global challenges
weekly email report to all members
weekly email specific to each member
1-3 requests per quarter (no rollovers)
must accept challenges issued to you
we may reject any request we want
extra fees may apply on deliverables
3rd party products/services at cost
dedicated advice, resource, connections

CXO’s
Chief Experience Officers = allocating capital, finding and facilitating opportunities, and act as general point of contact for member requests. There are always gaps in every organization. We help bridge them.

Capital Allocation
Capital allocation = curated advice, resources, connections placed toward and an end goal… tested, adjusted, optimized for best results possible.

What…
Are we pooling capital? Are we providing a service? Are we providing an experience? What’s the simplest of all? An open space. A blank slate. A marketplace? A platform? Consulting?

Outcomes
Revenue Stability
Revenue Growth
Profit Growth
Margin Expansion
Book Value Growth
CapEx Control
Talent Development
Brand Development
eCommerce
Website Utilization
Social Engagement
Customer Service
Benchmarking
Sustainability
Logistics and Distribution
Quality Control
Benefits Planning
Executive Wealth Planning
Supply Chain Management
Financial Reporting
Capital Introductions
M+A
Innovation
Research
Systems (Policies, Procedures, Process)
Accounting Systems
Budgeting
Cost Control
Legal Compliance
Risk Management
Relationship Management (i.e. Community)
Core Vision and Direction
Startup Support
S&M
Organizational Transformation