Richard speaks to Arlin Sorensen, founder of both a Managed Service Provider (MSP) in the USA and Heartlands Technology Group (HTG) a peer mentoring network.
An Interview with Arlin Sorensen
Who is Arlin Sorensen?
Arlin Sorensen is the founder of Heartlands Technology Solutions in Iowa, USA. He’s been involved in the IT sector for over 30 years and is the founder of Heartland Technology Group (HTG), a peer mentoring group for IT companies, with more than 500 members worldwide.
How did Arlin get into IT?
After studying farm operations, Arlin’s plan was to work on the family farm. However, he bought a computer to help with the farm accounts in 1982, which led to a love of technology and Arlin teaching nearby farmers to choose and use their own machines.
In 1985, Arlin and his brother set up a technology company to support agriculture businesses as a side-line. The launch of Windows95 helped expand the business, increasing staff from five to 13 in one year, and Arlin decided to make the business his main focus.
What Makes a Successful Merger?
Mergers and acquisitions (M&As) are valuable tools to help a business to grow. Arlin says that organic growth is hard work, so M&As are hood, but it’s not as easy as presenting some figures.
People assume that they’ll do an acquisition, cross-sell and bring revenue in, possibly more than they thought they would, but the challenge for a successful M&A is around staff and culture change when companies combine. It’s a great tool when it’s done for the right reasons: expanding the geographical area, adding vertical expertise new talent, but the budget sheet needs to be right.
How Does HTG’s Peer Group Work?
The peer groups give business owners who are looking to grow and change their companies and their lives the opportunity to get together with others to create success.
The groups are made up of 10 to 12 owners from different industries (non-competing markets) to create honesty. The groups are facilitated every 90 days, and they spend two days each quarter looking at their progress and goals, as well as completing forms to look at their financial benchmarks, their work and home life.
The meetings are designed to help each member with their challenges and holistically address concerns in an environment of trust and safety, where they can share their concerns instead of feeling isolated.
Why Planning is Important for IT Companies
Arlin explains: “We watch companies across the industry and see their financial situations. Those who are succeeding know where they’re going and have a strategy for how they’ll get there. Those which are failing don’t have a defined plan, or haven’t taken time and invested their energy to lay out a plan.”
They teach members about legacy – what a business will look like at the end – and encourage them to start with the end in mind, and then work backwards to identify the steps to help them achieve their goals.
They also support leaders with financial legacies, because people looking to retire often decide to sell their business, which has been successful but not profitable. Those owners need to consistently deliver profitability in their organisation because that’s what attracts buyers.
Mentioned in This Episode
- Heartland Technology Group (HTG)
- Michael Hyatt
- The Paterson Centre
- Book: Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action
- Book: Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't
- Book: The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business (J-B Lencioni Series)
- Book: The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea and podcast
- Book: Make a Difference: In the Lives of Those You Love, Live With, and Lead
- Book: The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It
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