Recently I met owners of two small companies in the Chicago area, both with strong, but different, business development strategies.

1. Josh

The first was Josh, owner of Cubicle Ninjas, a “Web Firm and Creative Design Studio” of about 20 people (and growing) located in Chicago. Cubicle Ninjas focuses on creating beautiful designs and executing them across web and mobile platforms, and based on their logo board, they have worked with some of the largest companies on the planet.

Branding, Web, Print, Mobile and Powerpoint designs are all in their wheelhouse. While most of these are pretty common for small agencies, the Powerpoint design offering stood out to me. Most designers feel powerpoint is a terrible platform and that building presentations is dull and boring.

Most designers feel Powerpoint is a terrible platform and that building presentations is dull and boring.

But Josh’s strategy is to combine highly talented designers with the “boring” jobs, which often blooms into business that is 10x that of the Powerpoint presentation. They work hard to deliver kick-ass designs on-time for a fixed price that is within the spending limit of most middle managers, and this continually expands their selling network.

Josh’s strategy is to combine highly talented designers with the “boring” jobs.

In addition, Cubicle Ninja has recently released their first product, an iPad application named SalesFu. SalesFu allows sales departments to push sales materials to their salesforce’s iPads, knowing the information will always be up-to-date. It has a monthly subscription model, as well as an initial setup cost. Furthermore, this will mostly likely bring in additional work to the service side of the house, as more people become familiar with the awesome work Cubicle Ninja’s does. Well done, Josh!

2. Steve

The second is Steve, co-founder at Milyli (Make It Like You Like It), a software development shop focused on Sharepoint and Relativity solutions for the Legal / Healthcare & Financial sectors, also located in Chicago. Milyli is a firm of about 22 people (and also expanding), and is focused on expanding their business through focusing on specific, in-demand technologies - like Sharepoint and Relativity - and on particular sectors, like Legal, Healthcare and Finance.

This focus on specific tools and customers allows them to become experts with their tools and deeply understand the challenges and problems their clients face. It also makes it easy for them to attend networking / conference events which target their tools and audiences.

This focus on specific tools and customers allows them to become experts with their tools and deeply understand the challenges and problems their clients face.

In addition, they have recently adopted a strategy of launching an enterprise collaboration product, named Arc. Based on what Steve told me, Arc feels like a natural complement to Sharepoint and Relativity and will appeal to the same audiences. While Arc has been productized, it also requires professional services to install and customize it for users, thus bringing additional customers into their service business. Great idea, Steve!

Both of these small companies have had effective, but different, approaches to lead generation in the past which involve knowing their target market very, very well. Now both of them are using products, both as a new revenue stream and also as a way to bring in new business to their service units. We wish them the best of luck in the coming year, and thank them for the opportunity to peek behind the curtain. Josh and Steve are both Wizards worthy of admiration for their ingenuity and drive.