Paul Tracey founded Innovative Technologies in 2012 to help small businesses expand their vision of the role of IT in their company beyond calling in someone to fix a computer when it broke down. After working for companies for whom compliance and cyber security were afterthoughts, Paul committed himself not only to being a full-service managed security services provider, but also to helping small business owners establish a company culture that supported safe, secure and efficient IT.
A recognized cyber security expert, Paul is the author of the recently published book Delete The Hacker Playbook. In the decade that Innovative Technologies has been in business, not one client has ever paid ransomware. He is also the co-author of Cyber Storm, released in April 2022. In this multi-perspective look at cyber security, Paul focuses on HIPAA compliance.
What Are The Top Three Business Indicators You Use To Measure Your Company And Why?
Our MRR (monthly recurring revenue), net profit, and cost of client acquisition are the three numbers that keep me up at night. MRR indicates the stability of our business. It also affects valuation if you’re looking to exit your business. Net profit is the ultimate number because you can grow your gross revenue, but if you’re growing it at a loss, it means your business isn’t healthy. Knowing you’re profitable and what your change is in that profit margin is huge. The cost of client acquisition is a big variable we always look at because we’re always doing marketing and sales. These are big-budget items, so we want to know how much it costs to acquire a client and what that looks like in relation to the lifetime value of that client.
What Is The Top Lesson You Had To Learn To Kick-Start Your Business Growth?
I’ve found that success has a direct relationship with your ability to invest in yourself and your personal growth. Techs like me who own MSPs know a lot of stuff, but we don’t give ourselves credit. Our job isn’t to sit in a closet with that information. You must go out there and tell people what you know and let them know what you do, why you’re doing it, and for whom you’re doing it.
That lesson came from Marcus Lemonis at TMT’s Boot Camp. He mentioned that the No. 1 indicator he saw for success across all businesses was an owner’s willingness to invest in themselves. I really grabbed onto that lesson, which led to why I’m in the news, delivering speeches, writing books, and doing all the other celebrity marketing stuff now.
Our teams run the business, but if you’re not in front of people, then who will buy what you offer? I had to get over myself and just get out there and do it. It took some getting used to, but it was worth it because it’s made a big difference.
What Is Your Single Secret To Success This Past Year?
We changed the conversation we have with prospects and removed our business from the push-down to a commodity that every MSP is facing. Diving deeper into our niche and talking about security and compliance, which is what we’ve always been about, allowed us to separate ourselves from competitors. By focusing on our expertise and doing celebrity branding, we’ve elevated our company’s position. A year ago, you could not have paid me to get on stage.
I failed public speaking in college twice. That was not a thing I wanted to do, but doing it has changed the business. It’s changed the conversation. Now, we’re talking about business solutions instead of commodity-type conversation, such as what antivirus they need. Talking about business solutions is much more profitable than that conversation.
Your Celebrity Marketing Has Resulted In Your Becoming A Bestselling Author Of The Book ‘Cyber Storm,’ Which Is Now A Bestseller In Three Categories. You Also Have Been Featured In Several Industry Magazines And Featured On Podcasts Syndicated To Over 500 News Stations. What Are You Doing To Fuel Your Celebrity Status?
The book put me on the map for a lot of people. Monthly, I’m doing 3–4 interviews about cybersecurity on local and national news. We created a section in our CRM designated for news outlets, producers, anchors, and JV partners. We know media needs content, so we constantly watch the stories that affect our target market and give news outlets content around those stories. I push out content around our expertise weekly.
A lot of times, our stories get picked up or we get responses. This has picked up since I did the book and got bestseller status. We use the media assets we receive on social media to push traffic to the business and close deals. I also don’t turn down opportunities. If someone asks you to speak on a topic that is important to your target market, do it.
There are times we’ve received a request from a news station that wants us to do something within 30 minutes. That’s hard to do when you are busy and running a business, but I’ve found making that a focus is a key to the success of this strategy. I also doubled down on focusing on my niche, which is enterprise medical.
What Would You Say Is The Biggest Challenge You’ve Had To Overcome This Past Year Related To Reaching That Growth?
That challenge was managing the stress both my team and my clients were feeling. The pandemic has been especially hard on business owners here. Our demand increased exponentially because of the work-from-home situations it created. Our teams are stressed because there is a new zero-day every other day and new attacks. Clients are stressed over their business and the major inconvenience of having people work from home. Plus, they don’t understand why they need to spend extra money on IT right now.
What Partners Or Tools Helped You Along The Way?
Compliance Manager GRC from Kaseya saves us a ton of time in assembling reports and creating compliance documentation across multiple layers for insurance and HIPAA regulations.
Which Business Leader’s Techniques Or Leadership Style Influence You? Why?
From a leadership standpoint, Jack Welch holds the prize. He has an analogy I love where he talks about curling in the Olympics. Players throw their stones across the ice, then come out with brooms to help change the path of the stone to get it positioned in the best possible way to score.
Our job as leaders is to be there in front of our teams with the broom, clearing the path toward their success. That’s a proven winning strategy to make sure people have what they need to succeed.
If You Were To Recommend A Book To Other MSPs Or SMBs Trying To Grow Their Business, What Would You Say They Should Read?
The Freak Factor by David Rendall is a must-read. It’s a different approach to thinking. The premise is that in the right situation, your weaknesses are your strengths. This helped me get over myself and start doing a lot of public speaking, news, and celebrity-type events.
What Words Of Wisdom Would You Give To Other MSPs Who Are Looking To Grow Their Business Or Build A Successful Exit?
Stay true to who you are and what your mission is about. Most of all, get out there and tell the people what your mission is, what they need to know, and what you’re going to do for them. That was the big struggle for me; however, at the end of the day, that is what it’s all about.
“If we’re not doing compliance as a service, then we’re putting our business at risk for someone else to come in and do compliance for them, and then they’ll use that to take over our business.” –Paul Tracey, Founder, Innovative Technologies, LLC
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