6 Tips to be Successful in (Any) Business
Looking to be more productive? Read our tips to be successful in business.
We were recently interviewed by one of our favorite technology partners, Datto, about some of our secrets to being effective as a Managed Service Provider (or MSP). That said, the same principles can be applied to just about any business segment from retail to hospitality and beyond. Here are a few of our tips to be successful. For the full book, click here.
Don’t be a generalist!
When you try to do too much, you will likely fail. At Invenio IT, specialization is an essential part of our success story. We learned this the hard way. When we first started out, we spread ourselves too thin. We did break-fix, security, backup, telecom and even some high-end sound system installation. Thank goodness we figured out that it’s better to for us specialize on specific services. Over time, we narrowed our service offerings down to disaster recovery, business continuity and IT security.
While Invenio IT doesn’t intentionally service specific industries, many of our customers organically fit a certain profile. For example, when we first started out, I was hesitant to work with clients with HIPAA needs. However, we wound up with a lot of HIPAA clients, because they have a greater need for the services in which we specialize. And, now we are working to “own” business continuity in healthcare. Over time, serving clients with similar needs will enable you to build up an expertise, which can be applied across customers. It’s easier when you specialize. The first time we had to draft a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement (BAA), it was really difficult because we were learning the laws as we went. Now, it’s very straightforward.
2. Be Selective about Your Clients
Many businesses don’t think about being selective with their client base, and that’s unfortunate. It is much better to identify your ideal client. For us, we weigh the effort vs. reward. Aside from partnering with respective clients, who appreciate technology, I prefer to work with larger customers—say 100 to 150 servers. I find the amount of work necessary to support 100 servers is not exponentially higher than supporting 10 servers. So, the profit margin is much higher in larger environments. Another thing we’ve learned is that customers with in-house IT generally require less effort to support than customers that rely on Invenio IT for every aspect of their technology needs. So, if we have a prospect that doesn’t meet our criteria, we don’t invest as much time or pass along the lead to an industry parter that would be a better fit.
3. Remember Trust is Earned, Not Given
We believe that trust starts with the very first conversation. For example, if you say you are going to call a potential client at 10 AM, make sure you call them at 10 AM. Always follow through—otherwise, there’s no trust and no relationship. We also offer current as well as prospective clients impartial advice that earns trust. While we are in business to make money, our reputation is more valuable.
4. Spend Some Time Playing “The Price is Right”
Price is important. It is how you make money so make sure you spend ample time figuring what you need to charge to stay in business. Some people like to compete on cost, but we’re not Walmart or a rogue IT cowboy so we have a different approach. We start with our costs, look at what we need to make for a margin and then price in some profit. Consider how you differentiate your services from what others offer and be ready to communicate why your service commands a premium price. Being able to succinctly communicate our point of differentiation is key. If we do lose a deal based on price, we have follow up strategy to keep the conversation going. For example, after a set period of time, we will reach out to find out if they are happy with the service they are getting from whoever won the bid (at the bargain basement price). If they aren’t, they are usually willing to pay a little more for good service.
5. Invest in Sales and Marketing (or become an expert)
It doesn’t matter if you are a small business or you’re not a born marketer, you need to figure it out or hire someone, stat. developing a repeatable sales process is essential. Once we added a dedicated marketing staff, we started to see that “hockey stick” with year over year growth. We may sell technology, but I approach it as a business. I come from a business background, I have finance degree and all the same rules would apply to selling baked goods as selling backup and recovery solutions.
6. Know Your Stuff
Be relentless on staying relevant. Know everything there is to know about your category. Invest in education, whether that is in a traditional format or something more fluid. We like peer groups as they offer sessions led by industry veterans on topics such as management, sales and marketing, employee relations, vendor engagement as well as new technologies. Members are encouraged to network and bounce ideas off each other as well. I also like to do my own research. For example, I start every day reading tech, marketing and business articles to keep up on everything. Then, I pass important articles on to my staff to keep them informed as well.
Have any tips to be successful? We’d love to hear what contributes to your success. Comment below!