Our $5 Million Unsinkable IT Business
Hit A Massive Iceberg
My business partner and I started our first IT services business in 1999. Yet, rather than focus on LANs and servers like most MSPs, our business model focused more on connectivity services, including VoIP, cloud and cyber security. From day one, we locked onto the monthly recurring revenue model and grew our profitable business to $5 million. Things were good. Until…
Everything went sideways, and quickly. Life came crashing down for my business partner and best friend of over 25 years. It started with an ugly divorce, where he was separated from his seven kids. Things spiraled from there, and while I tried everything I could to rescue him, he threw it all away. I explained the situation to his ex-wife, a long-time family friend, and asked for controlling interest in our business. I told her that without 51% ownership, I would be forced to start a new company. Unfortunately, she didn’t accept my offer and went out of business.
Always one to shed positive light on every circumstance, I gained two important lessons from this experience:
Lesson #1: None of us are above it. We are all just a few bad decisions away from ruin. Like I told his ex-wife: if this could happen to him, it could happen to the Pope.
Lesson #2: Expect the best, but prepare for the worst. Even the best partnerships can end ugly. Make sure any partnership or business agreement you have is airtight. I was fortunate I didn’t have a non-compete clause in our agreement, which allowed me to continue serving my clients.
I Brought My Loyal Employees, Amazing Clients
And A Hunger For REAL Marketing To My New Business
My average employee has been with us for 16 YEARS. My average client? 17 YEARS! That’s SIX TIMES the industry average, especially in the connectivity and VoIP space. So, I simply shifted everything to my new company and opened Shield IT Networks in February of this year. Only thing missing? A little thing called MARKETING.
With my old company, we did practically zero marketing. Sure, we were great at keeping customers and growing them, but we SUCKED at bringing on new clients. No consistent marketing, no lead generation system, no follow-up system.
Before even finding Robin Robins, it was clear we needed to EDUCATE our prospects and assert ourselves as the thought leader in this space. After all, our sales cycle can take from six months to two years! The more VALUE we provided during that time, the more likely Shield IT would be front of mind when they were considering another contract. When I realized Robin’s sales and marketing program shared the same approach, I went all in!
Recreating In JUST 90 DAYS
What Took 21 Years To Build
Your first year in business is typically your most vulnerable year. Because I was a brand-new MSP with zero revenue, a big investment in marketing right out of the gate caused me to pause and wonder if I should wait to first ramp up revenue. I knew it would take time for the marketing to bring new leads and new revenue, so I came to the realization that I could not afford to go slow.
I latched onto a new GROWTH mindset. As Robin puts it, I needed to work ON my business, not IN my business. For far too long in my other company, I was riding the brake pedal when it came to sales and marketing. Now, I was finally FLOORING the gas pedal!
Adding $89,492 In New Monthly Recurring Revenue
By Adding A Multimedia Marketing Approach
I just realized how fortunate I was to attend the March Rapid Implementation Workshop in Nashville, since the lockdowns were right around the corner. Going all in on Robin’s marketing provided an abundance of opportunity from both prospects and clients across multiple media.
In the first 30 days since attending Robin’s workshop, I took advantage of several of Technology Marketing Toolkit’s marketing programs, including:
- Signing up to be a co-author in their Amazon Best Seller book titled On Thin Ice. This opportunity would help me to be recognized as a trusted leader in the cyber security space.
- Jumping on Robin’s MAP Infusionsoft program. We’ve learned that Infusionsoft is essential to track our calls and e-mail opens, automate delivery, segment our list and provide alerts to keep our marketing moving forward. Without this tool and all of the campaigns already set up in Infusionsoft, it would have taken us months to build out these campaigns.
One Little Aspirin Packet Landed 2 NEW CLIENTS!
With the right tools in place, including Infusionsoft with turboDial, my marketing manager and I launched several campaigns that positioned us as our area’s IT experts to both existing clients and prospects.
After the workshop, we started steadily sending out Robin’s Aspirin campaign to local CPA firms. It was a breeze to set up in Infusionsoft, and that single campaign helped us to bring aboard two new clients – a law firm and a CPA firm!
Maximizing Exposure And Opportunities
For Our Brand-New Business
At the Rapid Implementation Workshop in Nashville, Robin had us send out e-mails to our client base to schedule quarterly business reviews (QBRs). These conversations have been critical in increasing our firewall sales, as well as services on the security side. QBRs have really been a game-changer for us.
We jumped in quickly with the Robinized website at www.shielditnetworks.com to better target our core market of CPA firms and credit unions. It uniquely positions us as cyber security and connectivity experts serving the Santa Clarita, California, area. Currently, our marketing manager is optimizing our site to better benefit from Google AdWords.
Robin taught us the importance of drip marketing: sending out regularly timed, relationship-building marketing communications to clients and prospects to stay front of mind when they’re ready to buy. We’re constantly sending out the TechTips postcards as well as the TechTips e-mails to both clients and prospects. We’ve also been sending out our newsletter to keep us engaged with our target market. Finally, we are putting the final touches on our Virtual Shock-And-Awe presentation, and once the world is right side up again, we will start on our Shock-And-Awe box.
And Just 30 Days After Opening Our Doors…
Pandemic, Lockdowns, Fears, Doubts And Blessings
My team and I are no stranger to adversity. I started my previous business in 1999 and got married that same year. Eighteen months into that venture, the dot-com bubble burst, which was even worse than the Great Recession of 2008. Seventy percent of our vendors went out of business!
Now, just 30 days into opening Shield IT, a global pandemic reared its ugly head. Like most everyone else in IT, we were definitely impacted. To better enter the conversation going on in our prospects’ heads, we shifted our marketing to include Robin’s COVID-19 e-mail campaign.
Fortunately for us, we had a seasoned team, and the majority of our verticals and clients remained opened and thriving. One of our clients is a jewelry store chain in strip malls. Because its competitors are in indoor malls, which are shut down, our client is doing well. Another auto-parts store client is experiencing year-over-year sales up 35%. And our main vertical of credit unions and banks are Steady Eddie.
From Losing My Business To A Global Pandemic,
How I Not Only Survived But THRIVED!
I think we can all agree that this has been one HELL of a year. But as someone who has successfully run an MSP for 21 years and built a fanatically loyal client base, I think I’m in a position to offer a little advice to other IT business owners today.
First, you need to TRUST the process and fully engage in Robin’s entire marketing engine. Believe me, I spent way too many years with a half-assed approach to marketing. It only works when you fully commit.
Second, surround yourself with successful people. Marketing is important, but accountability is where you’ll gain so much value. I’m fanatical about CrossFit (well, before California shut them all down). CrossFit works because like-minded enthusiasts PUSH each other and hold each other accountable.
Third, get out of your comfort zone. Diet, exercise, business, personal growth… We are our own worst enemies when it comes to our limitations. Do what frightens you a little. Do what CHALLENGES you. That’s how you grow!
By embracing these life lessons and implementing a proven marketing system consisting of cross-selling our clients, attracting new clients and keeping our new MSP front of mind for both prospects and customers, we added $89,492 in new MRR and $6K in new projects in our first 90 days!