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JohnMarch Partners, a boutique healthcare search consultancy based in downtown Dallas, was awarded multiple search assignments by a UAE firm working under contract with the UAE government. We beat out several of the major firms for this assignment. Not only is the work very profitable, there is a good possibility that our academic practice will pick up related assignments.

How did we get the engagement? Believe it or not, it was not that hard. And the account acquisition costs were minimal.

Several years ago a candidate for a VP of HR position was impressed with our process. More importantly, he raved about the way he was treated, including when we told him he would not move to the next phase (read: a lot of communication from the recruiter). Although he was not really a good fit for that original assignment, he remembered our firm. When he became CEO of a joint venture company in the UAE, he reached out to JohnMarch. Now that he is back in the U.S., he is talking with us about a new overseas venture.

A lack of communication in the executive search process is a chief complaint of many candidates, according to our research. An oft repeated comment: “I never knew where I stood in the search and then weeks later I received a regrets letter.” If I had a dollar for every time I heard that comment…

Entrepreneurs who work in the services segment frequently ignore lucrative business opportunities. We think that we are too small. We look at the overseas market as being too costly to penetrate. I know because I suffered from that disease for years.

Lesson learned? Do not short change yourself. Even small firms can get into the game, especially if they offer value that exceeds that which larger firms are willing to provide. The old-line firms are not that innovative or flexible. They have achieved critical mass through relationships but when it comes to innovation they can be like large battleships trying to turn in a small pond.

Flexibility and creativity are important strengths. For entrepreneurially-driven firms they reflect market power.