Andy Frank | Crain's Philadelphia

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Andy Frank


Based in Richmond, Va., UDig is a provider of technology consultants, project teams and strategic outsourcing services aimed at helping businesses keep pace with technology. While its footprint covers the mid-Atlantic, UDig’s consultants are engaged on client sites across the country.

The Mistake:

Expanding into new markets geographically without ever really setting clear expectations on what success actually looked like.

When you start a company, the primary goal is to survive. I think the first three years of any company are spent in survival model, in that you’re trying to create cash flow, keep yourself afloat and grow. But after a while, you sustain that growth, and the things that made you successful in the first three years are no longer making you successful. The expected outcomes for the things you used to do are not the same, and things start to break down.

That was a struggle early on, for us. We tried to put our hands on too many things, got distracted and chased too many shiny pennies. And that was an expensive struggle.

If there isn’t a consistent stream of opportunities, something isn’t right.

The Lesson:

I think one of the biggest things that we’ve learned is the importance of setting clear objectives for the things we want to accomplish, and figuring out how to measure those outcomes going forward. That’s what we’re doing now, as we continue to grow.

As for knowing what success looks like: All you can do is look at past performance in the markets you’re currently in, understand how they compare in terms of size and conditions, decipher whether or not there’s enough business there to support you, and set some baselines from there on how you’re going to grow. The first six months are all about understanding and defining the market. The next six to eighteen months are really about trying to understand the pain points and prospects of the market and how you can help.

If, by the eighteen-month mark, you don’t have real tangible opportunities with clients, you’re not doing something right. It’s not so much about winning business, but if there isn’t a consistent stream of opportunities, something isn’t right. It’s hard, because the fun is the creation. The management and objective part isn’t as fun.

Follow UDig on Twitter at @UDigTech

​Pictured: Andy Frank | Photo courtesy of UDig

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