Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

STEP 1: Look behind you

By Jennifer Alsever


For generations, old-money families have managed their complex affairs through family offices. These offices employ full-time C.P.A.s, attorneys, financial planners, financial analysts and, sometimes, fraud examiners. So when Joe Kopcynski was looking at ways to expand his investment-management firm, Universal Advisory Service, in Albuquerque, he first studied the family-office model.

Kopcynski saw an opportunity to offer a similar suite of services to a new breed of wealthy individuals -- business owners, top executives, entertainers and athletes. On average, his 14-employee business has grown 25% annually since 1990.

"History can be a great teacher," says Kopcynski. "We were always looking back to see what did and did not work. It was fundamental. And it was what my clients were telling me to do."

Before you set out to change an industry, know its history.

"It's like trying to catch a baseball," says Steve McKee, author of When Growth Stalls, which surveys executives at 700 companies about what they learned from crises. "You're in a better place if you know where the ball has been. Then study the needs of your customers. Where are their frustration points? Where is their productivity being hampered?"

Jay Steinfeld, CEO of Blinds.com, knew from years of experience that his customers hated having to measure and install his product. In 2007, Steinfeld's 67-employee company, based in Houston, hired a videographer to make 70 instructional videos that would teach neophytes everything they needed to know about installing blinds. It was a haphazard approach, but "we knew we had to do something," says Steinfeld, 55.

Steinfeld's team created a YouTube channel for the videos, sent links to Twitter users who had tweeted about installing blinds and sprinkled the videos throughout the Blinds.com site. Today, video-equipped pages on his site bring in three times more revenue than pages without videos, Steinfeld says. He projects that profits at Blinds.com will be up 20% this year on revenues of $50 million.

Questions & Answers



QHow does a florist sell more in this economy? We changed our business to designing weddings and events only, as the everyday flowers are not selling. We had to throw out too much product at the end of the week -- flowers are perishable! More
Get Answer
- The Flower Lady, Suwanee, Ga.
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed3.43%3.40%
15 yr fixed2.70%2.67%
5/1 ARM2.83%2.84%
30 yr refi3.45%3.43%
15 yr refi2.71%2.71%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 18,502.99 107.59 0.58%
Nasdaq 5,232.33 13.41 0.26%
S&P 500 2,180.38 11.34 0.52%
Treasuries 1.57 -0.07 -4.22%
Data as of 7:54pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 15.84 0.05 0.32%
Micron Technology In... 16.91 0.40 2.42%
Apple Inc 106.82 -0.12 -0.11%
Ford Motor Co 12.47 0.09 0.73%
Chesapeake Energy Co... 6.44 0.04 0.63%
Data as of 4:02pm ET
Sponsors

Sections

Southwest pilots have been negotiating pay raises and improved contract terms with the airline for more than four years. Now, there's a sign the gridlock is ending. The union said Monday they've reached an 'agreement in principle.' More

Nearly 10,000 current and former Chipotle workers have joined a class action lawsuit alleging the company forced them to work 'off the clock' without pay. More

Following an order from the Department of Education to stop admitting students on federal financial aid, the for-profit technical school has stopped enrolling new students. More