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Confessions of an IT one-man show

At one point, yes…I was a one-man show.  The allure of making more money per hour than working full-time has its appeal.  You imagine the Ferrari you will soon be able to afford to drive around town visiting your customers.  Alas, after a few months, reality sets in and you figure out a few important facts.

  • In a typical 8 hours day, you will not bill 8 hours of your time
  • Two or more clients will call at the same time…all with an urgent issues
  • You find yourself doing accounting late into the night
  • The only tan you are getting is from your laptop screen
  • You are doing remote support during your vacation (if any)

From the customer perspective, you end up being a one-man no-show!  You are too busy to make it all work, getting frustrated and frustrating your customers.

Being a one-man show is hard.  You have to be the entrepreneur to have the vision, balanced with the technician who just needs to get the job done, balanced with the manager who needs to have processes in place to keep it all organized.  Having that split personality is no easy feat.  I highly suggest The E-Myth Revisited as a must read to help understand how to make all those roles work for you.

What do you do? 

Keep it simple:  For some, being solo is very satisfying and it becomes very important to be efficient with your time and resources.  Implementing a simple Managed Services Platform can help keep tabs on your customers, allow remote support and allow you to look professional.

80/20 Rule:  This simple rule works for many different areas, but the one we want to examine now is that 80% of your income is derived from 20% of your customers.  How does this help?  Identify that 20%…give them VIP treatment and make sure they are happy.  These are the clients that pay your bills.  Identify those clients that take a lot of your time but have a hard time paying.  Is it worth it to be distracted while one of your VIP clients is patiently waiting for you?  Don’t be afraid to fire a client if they don’t value your services.

Outsource:  Can you outsource your call center?  Research virtual assistants or an answering service to make sure your clients talk to a real person, who can open up a trouble ticket and only getting in touch with you when it’s an emergency.  How would that freedom taste like?

Is there another one-man show in town that you could collaborate with?  Pool your resources…help each other out…maybe this year you could take a week off!  Imagine that, a week away, far away from tech issues!

Find your niche:  Maybe you are a specialist in a certain vertical, or you have a particular skill that sets you apart.  Make that a part of your branding, your identity and work that niche.  You can probably charge more if you are the best in your niche. 

Build it up:  Hire someone to help you with the day-to-day and go after new business.  Hire a tech part time, building the business till you can hire them full time.   After speaking with many VARs, I’ve come to this conclusion.  Either 1-5 employees or 25+ employees, anything in between is hard to manage.  When you are small, you can have oversight on the whole team.  When you are big, you have people each taking care of a group that reports back to you.  It’s that point in between where you can’t really afford the management layer and you can’t juggle all those people that is really rough.  Lesson:  Keep it simple or go big!

Sell:  You could speak with some larger firms to see if they are interesting in buying your business.  Some firms can hire you and take your customers, giving you a bonus for those customers for the first year for instance (all depends on how you negotiate).

Whatever your decision, it’s crucial that you have a vision of where you want to go.  The difference between driving aimlessly and driving towards a destination is a lot of wasted gas.

Contact Randal Wark for a free 30 minute 2020 IT Vision Strategy Session and let us start working ON your business rather then in it… email randal@itrevolution.ca