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ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY: OUR FUTURE AS A SOCIAL ENTERPRISE

August 28, 2015

I’d like to share a few thoughts about the future of this firm.

 
A WHIRLWIND FIRST YEAR

C.R. Peterson Consulting was formed in 2013 when I was laid off from my position as Director of Consulting at Ride Connection here in Portland, OR. At the time, I formed the company out of necessity: I had clients who needed me to finish work and a family to feed. That was exactly a year ago today.

During the first three months on my own, my focus was survival. But after finishing a few projects with happy clients and after winning several additional jobs, I realized the timing was right to build the business I’ve always wanted to build.

 

At the beginning of this year I made a decision that I would commit myself to turning C.R. Peterson Consulting into more than a single-shingle consulting firm. My goal is to build a team of passionate and talented people who are dedicated to solving what I call the community transportation crisis. I’d like to elaborate on what that might look like.

 
SOCIAL ENTERPRISE IN THE COMMUNITY TRANSPORTATION INDUSTRY

Having worked in the community transportation field for a solid decade, I have come to realize there is a need for a consulting firm that blends the best of two worlds: the for-profit consulting firm and the non-profit innovator agency. Having worked in both sectors, I have a hunch that a hybrid model could generate some amazing results.

 

Innovation isn’t coming from private sector consultants these days. If you look around the U.S., you’ll find that many of the most effective and impactful programs are being implemented by agile non-profit agencies. Organizations like Ride Connection in Portland, Oregon and Via Mobility Services in Boulder, Colorado are literal laboratories of community-based innovation. Top consultants often call on these organizations to do case studies of their successes. Yet, non-profits all over the U.S. struggle to make ends meet.

 

I believe that passionate people shouldn’t have to sacrifice their livelihood to pursue a purposeful career. Yet, the pressure society places on non-profit agencies to keep “overhead” low puts non-profits at a disadvantage by limiting their ability to offer competitive compensation.

 

The nation’s best consulting firms know that to attract top talent requires competitive compensation. But the the disadvantage facing for-profit consulting firms is the constant focus on “billable hours.” Having experienced this myself, I know that a narrow focus on chargeability can erode a company’s mission driven culture. This undermine’s the value of a firm’s talent by burning people out.

 
A HYBRID MODEL FOR THE FUTURE

As an alternative, I envision a consulting firm that uses a new organizational structure that places profit and purpose on a level playing field. Over the next three months I will be implementing several significant changes to C.R. Peterson Consulting to solidify our position as a social enterprise, including:

  • Reorganizing the firm as a Benefit Corporation. One of the first tasks the Associate will take on – with help from me, as needed – is to complete an application for benefit LLC status with the Oregon Secretary of State.

  • Changing the name of C.R. Peterson Consulting. The person I hire – along with me and several advisors that I have recruited to guide us – will help develop a new name that conveys the notion we are a purpose-driven team.

  • Supporting research and development. One of the things I love about being an independent consultant is the freedom I have to conduct  research and development. I currently dedicate a day every other week to reading current articles in the field, writing articles, and advancing my skills. From day one, all employees will have two paid days per month to work on any mission-related project of their choice.  This can include pro-bono work, research, app development – whatever!

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