Make Success a Milestone, Not a Goal
You’ve heard the saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” For many successful solution providers and MSPs it’s taken years to evolve and perfect their craft and the really good ones still aren’t satisfied.
Very few businesses achieve success right out of the gate, and the ones that are really killing it in the market tend to view success as a way of doing business, not an end goal.
Here’s how I see it. In the tech industry, success is a combination of five basic steps:
- Value Propositions
- Business Plan and Goals
- Technology and Partnerships
- Time and Effort
- Repeat (See #1)
Step 1: Value
Economist and business guru Peter Drucker famously said, “The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer.” The first step in creating a customer is building a product that a customer wants to buy. Salesmanship and marketing go a long way in convincing customers to open their wallets, but it won’t keep them coming back. Without a product or service in play that provides unmistakable value – a use, an outcome, a betterment – the company will not thrive.
Step 2: Planning
Tacking up a sign that says you’re open for business isn’t a business plan. To find true success, solution providers and MSPs need to create a plan buttressed by clear goals and objectives. A plan is nothing more than a map for setting and maintaining a course toward an ultimate outcome – product development, customer acquisition, growth and profitability. Business plans and goals are a must to keep a new, fledging or rebooting business from getting distracted and ultimately making bad decisions.
Step 3: Technology & Partnerships
As an MSP, you have a choice: either build or acquire the technology and/or the services you need to become more valuable to your customers. And, acquiring doesn’t always mean “buy” — it could be through partnership. Small and growing businesses should have a strategy for partnering with technology suppliers to acquire the assets and support needed to deliver their products and services to market. Partnerships are the glue that holds disparate technologies together as solutions. And, of course, the real value lies in the solutions and services you provide.
Step 4: Time
Here’s an often overlooked fact: Most enterprises start out as small businesses. Apple and Hewlett-Packard were started in garages. Microsoft and Facebook can trace their formations back to dorm rooms. In time, each of these companies grew from humble beginnings into tech titans. Success rarely comes overnight — even companies with apparent overnight success actually took years to blossom. Growth can happen fast, but even fast growth requires patience, perseverance and focus.
Step 5: Start Over
Nothing lasts forever, not even the best value propositions that launched the most successful companies in the market. Enduring companies are those that continually expand and reinvent themselves, often in parallel to their current success. Remember those business goals? Well, as one plan ends, another begins. Business goals are not the end of the road, but rather milestones on an endless journey where the landscape is constantly changing. Without continual evolution, businesses simply stop.
And that brings me to my final point: There really is no such thing as success. Success is more of an ideal that businesses should strive to achieve. As former IBM CEO Thomas Watson Jr. once said, “Whenever an individual or a business decides that success has been attained, progress stops.” It’s a warning to all businesses not to rest on their laurels.
These basic principles are applicable to any business, but more so to solution providers and MSPs, which are in a sea of transformation as cloud and other emerging technologies make new waves. The businesses we will eventually call successful are the ones that will do more than endure transformation, but ride the wave forward. Over time, these businesses will stand out as the next generation of titans.
Justin Crotty is senior VP and GM of NetEnrich, which provides closet to cloud services for MSPs and mid-market IT service providers. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are Talkin’ Cloud’s annual platinum sponsorship. Read all of NetEnrich’s guest blogs here.