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 fixed3.90%3.89%
15 yr fixed2.96%2.93%
5/1 ARM3.19%3.11%
30 yr refi4.00%4.00%
15 yr refi3.06%3.03%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,528.03 -114.98 -0.69%
Nasdaq 4,776.51 -51.82 -1.07%
S&P 500 1,972.18 -16.69 -0.84%
Treasuries 2.20 0.01 0.64%
Data as of 9:52pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 16.34 -0.02 -0.12%
Freeport-McMoRan Inc... 10.64 0.14 1.33%
Apple Inc 112.76 -0.53 -0.47%
Intel Corp 28.54 0.12 0.42%
Ford Motor Co 13.87 0.13 0.95%
Data as of 4:02pm ET
Sponsors

Sections

Walmart, facing higher labor costs due to raise in starting wage, is cutting workers' hours at some stores. More

A conservative think tank is sponsoring a Times Square billboard as a tribune to its opposition to a new minimum wage rule for fast food workers in New York state. More

Blue Apron, Boxed, and Nature Box are worth an estimated $2.5 billion. Their co-founders all went to the same high school. More

How do you run a successful crowdfunding campaign? Indiegogo's CEO Slava Rubin offers his top tips and mistakes to avoid. More

Looking for something good on Netflix? These entertaining films will help you learn more about finance and investing. More