In all the years I’ve been working within the IT industry, meeting hundreds and hundreds of IT business owners, I’ve never once met a business owner who when asked what they’d like to improve within their IT Solution Provider or Managed Service Provider (MSP) business replied “Nothing!”.
The reality of running any IT business is that the growth of the business is never, ever “completed”. Even if you’ve built the perfect sales machine or the perfect Service Desk. Even if you have the best employees and the most qualifications. The IT industry is forever changing and so your business needs to adapt to those changes. Clients have new requirements. The sands are constantly shifting. Your IT business is like a Jigsaw puzzle that is always expanding and is impossible to complete.
Most IT business owners would acknowledge this. They’d agree that their business is a continuous work in progress and they will never be “finished”.
Why then do many IT business owners put important tasks, such as Sales and Marketing, off – citing that the time isn’t right and once they’ve finished something else (a client deployment, hiring a new employee) they’ll do those important things?
We don’t have time to do Marketing
Don’t get me wrong. As the former owner of an MSP myself I know that the demands on an owner’s time are immense. You have to be Technician, Salesman, HR and Chief Bottle Washer. But you know what? That’s unlikely to change unless you change it.
The most common aspiration I hear from IT business owners is that they want to acquire new clients and grow their business. But when asked what Marketing they’re doing, the response is typically “We keep meaning to, but can’t find the time”.
Let me be blunt. Within a constantly evolving IT industry, with new products and new tools always being released, with clients who have ever changing requirements, with the goalposts constantly shifting – something will always demand your attention, distracting you from doing any Marketing.
Unless you make the time.
Making the time to do Marketing
Making the time to do marketing means taking baby-steps and being serious about executing them.
That means not trying to coordinate a massive Direct Mail campaign after months of doing nothing. That means not asking Vendors to give you unsolicited Marketing Development Funds in the hope that will cure-all. That means not throwing money at a Telemarketing company and expecting miracles.
What it does mean is Googling the next business networking event in your area and booking a place. That means in the days before the networking event, organising cover for any emergencies or distractions that might occur. That means on the day of the networking event, turning up on time, with your Smartphone turned off and a pocket full of business cards. Then repeat, the week afterwards. And the week after that.
What is does mean is scheduling the time in your diary to sit down and think about the type of clients you’d like to work with. That means that at the time you’ve specified, not being distracted by emails or some mock emergency. That means sitting down with your Smartphone turned off and writing down the type of clients you’d like to work with. Then repeat, the week afterwards, only taking a Yellow Pages with you and writing down the actual names of the type of companies you’d like to work with. Then repeat, writing a letter to send to them.
Your IT business will never, ever be complete. It will never be finished. Nor will the list of jobs that you need to do within it.
Why then are you putting the most important jobs – such as finding new clients, Marketing and business growth – off until the time is right and you’ve finished swathes of other work?
Stop putting off the important tasks and start making the time. No excuses. Just make the time to complete baby steps.
Before long all those little baby steps will have added up to significant milestones in your business and you’ll look back not having trod water, but having strode forwards.