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On Bended Knee

Will that big-name client end up making—or breaking—your business?

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This story appears in the February 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Growing businesses have always had to be quick and nimble to compete in the big leagues. The concept of getting the sale now and adapting to fulfill the orders is practically ingrained in the entrepreneurial fast-growth mentality. But when times are tight, you have to be particularly careful about what customers you take on and under what terms. Winning a big client could either fulfill your dreams of steady income for the next six to 18 months and add a big name to your resume or bankrupt you faster than you can say "widget."

It all depends on how strategically you plan, experts say. Entrepreneurs tend to manage from the gut and fail to think institutionally, says Jeffrey Bolton, managing partner with accounting firm Daszkal Bolton LLP in Boca Raton, Florida. "So going into a deal, they don't do the legwork," he says. "They don't have the firepower internally to figure out what their bid should be and how to monitor the bid."

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