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With start-ups popping up everywhere you look and only a few of them really seeing the success their founders desire, it's important to approach your business with a strategic plan. Seeing this opportunity, consulting agencies are seeing more clients than ever, but how do you know which is the right fit?

I spoke to Susan Strayer LaMotte, Founder of exaqueo, about why boutique agencies are the future and why hers in particular is the leader.

We’re not just consultants. We’re in the business of growth: building cultures, talent and brand strategies. We’ve been consultants and we’ve been in-house. We’ve been hired by start-ups and Fortune 500 companies. We’ve supported bootstrapped founders, angel investors and VCs. We work with founders, executive teams, HR leaders and hiring managers. This means we understand all sides of the coin. We make your business, and you, distinct. We help you be your own company.

We’re exceptionally experienced and smart. But we’re also boutique, which means we can work quickly and in a cost-effective way.  Get to know our clients. Or contact us with more details about the guidance you’re looking for. If we can’t help, we’ll recommend partners we know can.

- See more at: http://www.exaqueo.com/about-exaqueo/services/#sthash.PoZRLbRl.dpuf

We’re not just consultants. We’re in the business of growth: building cultures, talent and brand strategies. We’ve been consultants and we’ve been in-house. We’ve been hired by start-ups and Fortune 500 companies. We’ve supported bootstrapped founders, angel investors and VCs. We work with founders, executive teams, HR leaders and hiring managers. This means we understand all sides of the coin. We make your business, and you, distinct. We help you be your own company.

We’re exceptionally experienced and smart. But we’re also boutique, which means we can work quickly and in a cost-effective way.  Get to know our clients. Or contact us with more details about the guidance you’re looking for. If we can’t help, we’ll recommend partners we know can.

- See more at: http://www.exaqueo.com/about-exaqueo/services/#sthash.PoZRLbRl.dpuf

What is exaqueo?

exaqueo is a workforce consultancy. We build cultures, employer brands and talent strategies for start-up and high growth organizations.

 

 

What was the inspiration?

In my 15 years as an HR Leader and consultant, I recognized the importance of alignment. The promise we make potential employees when we court them has to be delivered on when they join the company. In so many organizations, dysfunction comes from a culture that isn't defined, a false promise of an employment opportunity described in glowing terms and hiring that is done with true regard to company fit.  These challenges are best addressed in the earliest stages of an organization and we're passionate about helping leaders recognize how alignment can dramatically change the growth trajectory of their business for the better.

What's the story behind the name?

exaqueo comes from the Latin word ex aequeo which means "on equal footing."  When we compete for talent in the marketplace, we're usually all on equal footing. So it's important to understand who you are as an organization and what makes you unique and different.  Then you can compete for who fits.

How has business been doing since you started?

Like any start-up, it's been a series of ups and downs as we solidified our own culture and business model. We've recently pivoted to focus solely on start-up and high growth organizations and we're seeing steady growth in that space.

What has your biggest failure been with exaqueo?

It's hard to turn down work, so we took on multiple enterprise clients in the first year. We wanted the big, brand name clients, but we got lost in the slowness that often accompanies these enterprise companies.

Had we solely focused on start-up and high-growth companies from the beginning, I think we'd have a better base in key start-up communities across the US than we do at present time.

 

 

What has your biggest success been?

The introduction of work rules to our clients. Work rules are how you hold employees accountable for aligning with the culture. For example, if service were a core or cultural value, the work rule would be how you deliver that service.

Is it about empowerment, and an employee can do whatever he needs and take as much time as needed to solve a customer problem? Or is it about speed? Should employees work as quickly as possible to solve the problem and move on? Work rules drive clarity about behaviors and expectations and help you recruit. One candidate might be better at building relationships with customers. The other might be better at speed. Now you can make sure you hire the right one every time.

What about your service is unique that your competitors can't offer?

We use a model called the 4C model:  We learn about a company's existing Culture, do extensive research to gain Clarity on the culture, help the leadership team Comprehend the reality about the culture and the major issues and gaps, and then we Cultivate solutions to help the company grow.

Those solutions can include culture definition, development of work rules, creation and communication of an employer brand and talent strategies to attract and retain key talent for growth and retention.

What advice would you give entrepreneurs just starting out?

Be clear and passionate about what you're doing. You have to share your pitch over and over and over again. So it's really important that your passion comes through every single time and your message is delivered over and over. It's how you get traction in the market and how you become known. When you start to lose energy or passion, you won't have the ability to grow as you need to.  

 

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