Cervelloni Services Arrives at Success After Focusing With BGC

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What's in a name? For Paul Cervelloni, the name Collaborative Systems, Inc., or CSI, represented the start of his entrepreneurial journey when he chose it for his fledgling company in October 2000. After gaining vast experience as an IT executive, Cervelloni found himself a "free agent" when the large firm he'd been serving as chief information officer declared Chapter 11. Anyone's routine response would have involved pounding the pavement, but Cervelloni was weary of routine. Once he acknowledged how unhappy he was in corporate life, the catalyst of unemployment became an opportunity to reinvent himself as an independent expert. But, could he secure enough work to be a successful entrepreneur? Four years after founding CSI, Paul wasn't sure.

Paul Cervelloni was an entrepreneur at heart. But his defining point of how to provide for his family and future really pointed out how dissatisfied he had become working for Fortune 500 companies. "I wasn't having enough fun," he recalled, "and instead of hooking up with another big firm, I visited with some friends who worked for small companies. And I liked what I saw in more entrepreneurial firms." In need of employment, intrigued by the energy of smaller firm, he hired on with an IT consultancy. There was just one problem: the company needed someone to turn around its struggling sales, and Cervelloni had never sold anything in his life.

"I went to see Tom Scully, a sales coach with the Sandler system," Cervelloni said, "and it was one of the best things I'd ever done for my career." He became such a prolific student; in fact, that he gained the selling confidence to go out on his own, and CSI was born. Cervelloni sold sales and information technology for one client after another, but without direction. "I took any business that came my way," he said with a laugh. For the most part, he leaped from one big contract with a large company to the next. "There always seemed to be a lag," he said. "I would do very well for a few months, but when that contract ended and the client was happy with what I had done, I was out of work again." Although he relished the freedom of owning his own firm and enjoyed his work, Cervelloni realized his business had lapsed into a discomfiting pattern. "There was too much time between accounts," he said, "and it was very frustrating. I wasn't reaching my financial goals."

Paul Cervelloni had known Andy Birol for several years and hired him, knowing what he was getting into. At first, he wasn't entirely receptive to Andy's suggestions. "He started by asking me what I do," said Cervelloni, "and he insisted that I needed to focus on doing one thing and doing it really well. By specializing, he said, I would become more marketable, but I was afraid of losing business." Having worked with small companies and large corporations, and having sold a variety of products and services, Cervelloni had never defined his business. "Andy wanted me to build a foundation for a house," said Cervelloni, "and he said I'd built a foundation for an entire city block."

Initially wary, Cervelloni worked through the PACER Process with Andy's help. Andy targeted Cervelloni's Best and Highest Use®. "In his heart of hearts, Paul Cervelloni is a consultant, a sole proprietor more than capable of selling his services," noted Andy. "He just needed to concentrate solely on consulting and learn to manage multiple clients at a time." Also, he needed to learn how to split his time into thirds of selling, delivering and developing his own business.

Furthermore, Andy helped Cervelloni refine his BHU based on his IT expertise. "He told me to concentrate on serving large sourcing IT or big process outsourcing, each of which has two dimensions," Cervelloni said. Buyers were looking to get a fair deal, while sellers were looking to sell a fair deal. "Paul is uniquely positioned to serve both sides," said Andy. At a time when outsourcing was becoming a dirty word, Andy helped Cervelloni develop a "win-win" approach based on fairness, transparency, and clear expectations for buyers and sellers alike.

Then there was the matter of the company's name. "Andy's comment on CSI was, 'Too bad about the TV show,'" Cervelloni said. To keep clients from associating the firm with bloody crime scenes and severed hands, Andy recommended a new name. "He said it needed to be memorable," said Cervelloni, "and he told me to use my own name." As Andy commented, "Business owners, and in particular sole-proprietors, are indistinguishable from their companies. People remember the person they deal with, so why not give the firm a name they will remember?"

Less than a year after working with Andy, Paul Cervelloni has "more work to do than [he] thought [he] could ever get done." Now operating as Cervelloni Services, Inc. (and not emphasizing the acronym), the firm is earning a solid reputation in its target market. Business is brisk, steady, and profitable, and Cervelloni hasn't simply met his financial goals but has exceeded them. By focusing on consulting and outsourcing, he is doing the work he most enjoys while providing significant value to his clients.

Cervelloni has also branched, grudgingly, into new territory - writing articles and speaking about his expertise. "Andy wanted me to write white papers, which I didn't see the value of doing, initially," said Cervelloni, "and he made me look for speaking engagements, even if I didn't get paid for them." Cervelloni has been pleasantly surprised at the response he has gotten. "I'm writing a lot," he said, "and I like it. I'm doing some articles for client newsletters, white papers, things like that." Furthermore, he has secured several paid speaking gigs for 2005. "I talk about outsourcing," he said. "At first I thought it was a waste of time, but now the speaking and writing are paying off."

Those doubts, like the CSI brand that was co-opted out from under him, have been put to rest. "The best part of working with Andy," Cervelloni mused, "is that he's a fun-loving guy. And he cuts to the core of the matter. He doesn't take you through a process of self-discovery. He brings you to a point of awareness, where you identify what you need to do and are ready to take action. That's what gets results."

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