Additional Factors in Project Feasibility

Companies, especially those in real estate development, have developed comprehensive due diligence/feasibility processes to determine if a project is a go or no-go.

But even the best due diligence/feasibility processes we’ve seen lack an understanding of the ‘political’ elements impacting a project, which often results in one of two scenarios:

1. The company passes on a project in response to a perceived regulatory roadblock, which if investigated further might be easily navigated, or

2. The company proceeds with a project only to run into an ‘unexpected’ political change that threatens the entitlements they seek (e.g. moratoriums, more stringent regulations, emergency ordinances, etc.).

We’ve got solutions and here’s how we help:

  • Political & Regulatory Risk Assessments – We specialize in understanding local and state regulatory systems and we excel at researching local regulatory trends, past project results, changing political winds (example: is the no-growth neighborhood group running candidates to flip the local council/board?).  We can help your company assess the political and regulatory risks prior to your investment.
  • Reverse Engineering of Regulatory Roadblocks – Have you ever passed on a project because you ran into a single regulatory limitation that didn’t fit the project (e.g. allowed % of lot coverage was too low for your home designs)? We help companies assess regulatory roadblocks and design strategies that can change the red flag your seeing into a green light.
  • Maximizing the Project’s Value – What if you could get a little more density?  Shorten your approval by a few weeks?  Or reduce some of your project’s conditions?  We can help with that.  We understand the politics of negotiation, as well as the opportunities to speed up local regulatory processes, and we can assist you in maximizing your next project’s value.
  • Proactive Project Mine-Clearing – Developing relationships, seeking code interpretations, securing code amendments – are all efforts we can manage on your behalf prior to your next project moving forward.
  • Community Outreach – There’s nothing worse than thinking everything is going great only to go to hearing and have dozens of neighbors show up in opposition.  We are experienced at communicating with neighborhoods and adjacent landowners, and we can help your company manage long-term project risk by utilizing the opportunity to address concerns early in the process.

Want to learn more about how we can help your projects?  Contact us.

Knowing & Doing Aren’t the Same

For the last two decades I’ve worked around the country with companies, organizations and communities, seeing all forms of strategic planning in many phases of its development and implementation.  I’ve also seen strategic plans get more and more complex and take longer and longer to create.

The length and complexity of these plans stems from a desire to want more information to guide strategic decisions as well as to want to analyze information better and more thoroughly than your competition (a subjective assumption).

Yet as more information is available and analyzed, far too many of these strategic plans appear (and are) lifeless, impractical and wasted.  But why?

Knowing & Doing Aren’t the Same

As a dad of three I’m often reminding my kids to do things, which means I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “I know” to which I’ve quipped “Knowing and doing are two different things.”

Before I even finish there is a part of me that winces at having said such a ‘dad-like-thing’ but the truth is my response is less a reflection of being a dad and more a reflection of being a consultant in today’s world.  Like my kids, most people fundamentally know what to do, but they are often distracted from taking action either by the immediacy of something else that’s grabbed their attention or they are waiting for more information.

Albert Einstein is attributed to having said, “Information is not knowledge.”

And this problem is only getting worse as the daily bombardment of information through every device and from every screen raises our expectation that a little more information won’t hurt and will actually make it easier to take action.  It’s an assumption that the next piece of information may be so much better than what we have, we must wait.

Thus this access to so much information that is so frequently refreshing (updating, revising) is now treated as a source of knowledge, creating an illusion that with knowledge of the next piece of information we can somehow take more decisive and successful action.

Knowledge is More than Information

Unfortunately knowledge is more than mere abundance and availability of information.  Knowledge involves experience (good and bad), ranking (how we measure and weigh information), instincts/intuition, imagination and other processes that are functions of taking action (a/k/a doing).  Thus, the result of seeking more and more information because it is (or may be) available too often leads to the same problem of inaction that plagues my kids – distraction and postponement.

This is not to say that data and information can’t be valuable to a decision, but the expectation that more data and information will always lead to an even better decision has a limit.

3 Tips for Action

Here are three tips to encourage action:

  1. Do limit the analysis of data and information to that which is most relevant to your goals and objectives.  Don’t rely on data that is too historic or unverifiable.
  2. Create a plan that guides your strategic decisions and actions for the next 3-5 years.  Don’t create a plan for purposes of creating a plan.
  3. Assume that your plan will need to be adjusted as new information is available or markets change.  Don’t fall into the trap of creating an entirely new plan every time something changes.

 

Founder’s Focus: Oh, That’s What This Is?

Growing the business one bass at a time.

Advice, particularly for business owners and entrepreneurs is everywhere . . . as I scroll through LinkedIn, advice is coming from the influencers I follow and my connections; it graces the covers of books in the airport bookstore; and I even get daily text messages and emails.

Advice is good, but I’m not always sure what to do with it.

That’s how I’ve come to believe that advice and action may be relatively near each other in the dictionary, but they are separated by interpretation (Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as a particular adaption or version).

Too often the advice is missing “the how” behind my using (or not using) it in my daily practice?  In other words, the advice fails to answer a key question that can be asked a couple different ways:  How do I adapt it to work for me?  What’s the version of this I can use?

Let’s talk about a specific example I’m familiar with.  One thing that shows up in pieces of advice like “7 things successful entrepreneurs do. . .” is the notion of a quiet time or a “pause” for entrepreneurs.  Sometimes it’s referred to as meditation, but it also can be called recovery, reflection, centering, getting present, or even mindfulness (a new buzz word).

Regardless of what it’s called, the advice is the same: entrepreneurs are supposed to take “time” to be successful because that’s when the great things can be allowed to manifest.

I’m the first to admit I can be a skeptic of things like yoga, meditation, etc.  And anytime I’m faced with the notion of a pause, unfortunately all I can envision is meditation.  Thinking of me sitting crisscross applesauce on the floor of a quiet in a room by myself with no interruptions and distractions is a bit scary.  Because I’ve got three active kids, a brutal travel schedule, an internal clock no longer attached to a time zone, very few precious minutes of downtime, and some body image issues.  And since I’m getting real honest here, I’m going to even admit that I bought a book about 10 years ago called “8 Minute Meditation” and I never gave it 3 minutes of my time.

Because ‘meditation’ seems impossible and it appears that all the successful entrepreneurs are doing it, I can’t help but feel the fear of missing out (FOMO), question my motivation, and ponder whether my reluctance is holding my business back.

So how am I still here after all these years?  I finally found the answer. . . and it wasn’t what I thought it was.

I found out that I’ve been doing what other successful entrepreneurs do, but I didn’t know I was doing it.  I actually do pause to meditate, reflect, refresh, etc.

And it came to me in a total “Oh, That’s what this is?” moment.

Here’s how I figured it out.

I was sitting on a plane and listening to one of my favorite podcasts (Gary Vee) and out of nowhere it came to me that in coming through recent struggles with growing my business, I’d been fishing.  Not fishing for business, but literally casting a line fishing.

Nearly every free night and weekend day for a month my youngest and I were on the lake and I was staying far longer than normal (and not at my son’s urging).

A catch of the day. . . not long before I caught the catch of my life.

This was immediately followed by reminiscing about when I decided to start my business back in 3rd quarter of 2007 after a week on a river fishing for pink salmon . . . and when my now wife gave me the ultimatum – commit or quit – which led to two weeks on a river from which I returned with a grand (and successful!) plan.  You get the point.

I had finally discovered that when I’m out there (lake, river, pond, ocean, etc.), it’s quiet.  Not just quiet on the water, but actually quiet (relatively) in my head.

Fishing isn’t just some hobby I can list in my profile, nor an activity I do with my kids because my dad did it with me.

Fishing is “that” time for me.

So the good news is I’ve been meditating, pausing, reflection, etc. all along.  I just failed to interpret what I was doing as being my version of what other successful entrepreneurs are doing.

Note: this blog is the second in a series of blogs I’m writing on various topics that aren’t related to our company’s core services, but definitely relate to how we cope with the same challenges that our clients and colleagues often face as small businesses and entrepreneurs.

You Should Know the Economic Impact

How often have you. . .

  • Heard a company press on a city or county to make a decision based on their economic impact locally, but without any data?
  • Considered incentives for an economic development deal without knowing more than the number of jobs and total investment as given by the company?
  • Lacked specific information on the projects your economic development group helped support?
  • Had a developer tout the economic benefits of their proposed speculative building, but not have data to back it up?

In every case, it is important to have this data:

  • To help prioritize how to invest your resources
  • To ensure incentives are based on a ROI to your community
  • To prove the effectiveness of your EDO

Our firm helps our clients (cities, EDOs, companies) with the analysis of the economic impact.  Relying on RIMS II multiplier data from the BEA, we can help you analyze and determine the direct, indirect and induced impacts of a project (or projects) on jobs, economic output and wages.

Contact us and let us help you determine the impacts of your next project.

 

Rhodora Annexation Approved

Lake Stevens, WA.  On Tuesday night the City Council unanimously approved Ordinance 1041 to annex approximately 100 acres into the city – an action our firm initiated and supported on behalf of landowners in the annexation area.

One of the direct mailers.

One of the door hangers used.

About Our Role
Our firm was retained by our client in September of 2017 to complete an analysis recommending if an annexation could be successful and by what method.  After studying parcel data (acreage, valuation) and voter registration data in the area, we concluded that the best approach was the Direct Petition Method.  Further, we used our research to identify an annexation area meeting the location and boundary criteria in state law.

We were subsequently retained to secure signatures for the required 10% and 60% petitions (based on % of valuation in the annexation area).  To complete this task, we developed a communications strategy to provide answers to the most common questions about annexation.  We utilized a combination of direct mail, door hangers and door belling (see examples to the left).

We successfully gathered the 10% and 60% petitions, negotiated applicable zoning and indebtedness, completed the required State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) checklist, and prepared exhibits and narratives to be included in the official “Notice of Intent” to annex filed with the Washington State Boundary Review Board for Snohomish County (BRB).

The annexation was challenged by a group of residents.  However, the annexation was unanimously approved by the BRB and an appeal of the BRB’s decision was dismissed by Snohomish County Superior Court.

For more information on the annexation, see visit our project page.

Got a project you think we can help with?  Contact us!