Outside interests

Michael Patton isn’t alone in his dilemma of balancing marketing and business development with the work of his new company, Corporate Strategic Services Inc.

In fact, Don Bush, a partner with Coopers & Lybrand LLP, with whom Patton has formed a strategic alliance, calls Patton’s the “classic entrepreneurial situation.”

“It’s a common malady,” Bush says. “With small enterprises, typically the CEO and the senior management team are going to wear many hats, and therefore the demands on their time are far greater than their capacity.” And while the senior management team delivers services, no one is prospecting new clients.

Patton’s efforts to find investors and to hire marketing staff are on target, Bush says, to solve the problem.

“It is a vicious cycle until they get to a sufficient level of profitability or have capital reserves to hire more staff and begin to build a full-fledged management team,” Bush says.

The CSS principals’ efforts to refine their services and products also are good steps for the start-up, he says.

“Beyond that, it’s partnering up with companies and individuals that can help you leverage and grow your business either through their contacts or through introduction to potential customers and suppliers and the like,” Bush says. “Mike is doing that very well because he is a very personable individual, and is also an expert in his field and has instant credibility. That’s helping him get in the door faster and be more successful.”

Those traits are especially important to Cindy Morrell, vice president/purchasing and facilities manager for American Pacific State Bank in Sherman Oaks, Calif., a CSS client.

Morrell says Patton and his business partners supported her when she had to suspend part of CSS’s bankwide expenditure-analysis project because of changes at American Pacific.

“Since they have real-world experience and they have come from organizations and understand the sensitivities involved in projects like this, they were really able to work with me and make the project successful,” Morrell says.

She also uses the start-up’s AESOP software, which she says, “allows the staff to concentrate on tasks that contribute to the company’s bottom line. We are able to monitor and analyze how we’re spending our money as opposed to processing low-value paper.”

Bush adds that because CSS’s cash flow has not grown to a point sufficient for a bank to provide financing, Patton should continue to concentrate on finding capital through angel investors or venture funds targeting early-stage companies.

“He still needs equity or investment to get him up over the hump,” Bush says.