The birth of a child is a life-changing celebration of overwhelming newness and eager anticipation. The year Derek Anderson’s daughter was born was no exception. Their new baby was healthy and happy, and Anderson’s IT business, Biztek Solutions, had experienced an astounding seven consecutive years of top-line revenue growth of 20%.
With business on the way up, Anderson’s wife left her career to focus on their family. Together, the couple looked into a promising and hopeful future, as growing families tend to do – until, after they’d spent a few blissful months with their new daughter, Anderson’s business took a sudden and devastating downturn.
By the end of 2019, Anderson and his business partner of four years had an unfavorable separation, just months before the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted lives all over the world and businesses of every kind shut their doors. After nearly a decade of year-over-year growth, the company’s revenues were suddenly flat. There was no growth, no plan, and Anderson’s once-bright future was very uncertain.
A Precarious Future For A Once-Growing Company
For seven years, Anderson was a solopreneur, known familiarly by business owners in SoCal’s Inland Empire as “Derek, the IT Guy.” Anderson built a buzzing company early in his career by taking out an ad in the Yellow Pages and relying on word-of-mouth references. He eventually hit capacity as a one-person IT company. After a short time as an entrepreneur, he became too busy and struggled to solve all his clients’ problems within the quick response times he promised – and that was a big problem. If he didn’t adjust his approach to business, he might lose clients’ trust – or their business entirely.
“I knew that to return to my promise of responding quickly and providing helpful solutions to my clients, I needed to grow the company,” Anderson says. His business coach suggested he merge with another company. After two long years and dozens of prospecting meetings over coffee and eggs, in 2015 Anderson found the right partner and prepared for a merger that would bring the best possible service to customers.
Biztek merged with a smaller company, and the new partners agreed that Anderson, who brought the larger share of the business to the company, would manage sales and marketing and see to the company’s growth. His partner, more technical in trade and experience, would manage business operations and technical services.
As the years went on, however, the work wasn’t being split as they had agreed. Anderson found himself still managing every aspect of the business, including the company’s new growth and technical operations – as if the merger had never happened. The partnership wasn’t working anymore, and so the pair were forced to split.
“All of the business he brought in, including some additional business we had gained through his relationships and contacts, left,” Anderson recalls. After 12 years of growth, the company had its first year with flat revenue. But more bad news was around the corner. “I’m trying to support my family, business is down, and then…Covid hits,” Anderson says. He and his partner split in 2019, on the cusp of the Covid-19 pandemic that was hammering economic downturns in every industry. Anderson was now responsible for his family, employees and clients, facing one of the nation’s most significant economic and public health crises in modern times – and he was completely alone.
Answer Adversity With Innovation
Thankfully, Anderson had a stalwart example of resiliency during adversity – his mother. Anderson’s parents had been CPAs with their own firm, and he remembers spending many afternoons in his parents’ office growing up. But when he was in high school, a devastating decision turned his life upside down. Anderson’s parents divorced.
His father left the couple’s business, and his mother was suddenly alone and solely responsible for the future of the accounting firm and the livelihood of her family. Still, she didn’t stumble. Anderson remembers that his mother’s forward-thinking choices in the face of adversity kept the company thriving, and even inspired Anderson’s later IT career.
After the divorce, his mother decided to reinvent the firm’s operations. At the time, all the computers at the firm were individually managed; data had to be copied onto a disc and then put into another computer for coworkers to collaborate. Anderson’s mother hired an IT company to bring technological transformation and improve collaboration. He watched as the IT team ran network cabling through the office and a Windows NT server to store files centrally, allowing anyone to access files and collaborate in real time.
“Seeing that increased efficiency and collaboration in her firm, where people could work together and make sure everything is centrally backed up, was a huge game-changer for her,” Anderson said. It was a game-changer for him too, as he eagerly shadowed the IT team setting up the new technology. “It was mind-blowing to me what they were able to do. I witnessed how technology transformed my mom’s business. I knew what I wanted to do with my life.”
Watching his mother reinvent her company after his parents’ divorce motivated Anderson years later as he faced his own challenges. “She had to figure it out on her own. She survived and still runs the CPA firm today,” he says. “Seeing my mom persevere helped give me the confidence that I could persevere through my business’s split.”
Prevent And Respond With The Right Tools And Team
After he and his business partner parted ways, Anderson felt the weight of his family and his business on his shoulders. So, like his mother, he innovated.
“To persevere in the face of adversity, you must innovate and pivot quickly to find new ways forward. You can’t just keep doing what you’re doing,” Anderson says. He knew that trying to run the business as is would guarantee failure, so he took advantage of the one thing the Covid-19 pandemic had to offer – time.
“I did a lot of soul-searching, learning, studying and pivoting to get back on top and grow,” he says. Anderson added tools, marketing and sales tactics and hired new employees with expert credentials as well as full-time executive-level professionals. He didn’t expect it, but it was an opportunity to rebuild his business to be exactly what his clients needed.
By employing knowledgeable IT employees with excellent bedside manners, Anderson ensures his CPA and professional services clients benefit from the same promise he made almost two decades ago – fast response times and an IT partner they can trust to answer the phone live.
After a horrified Anderson repeatedly heard that local businesses were being “ghosted” by IT guys for days – sometimes even weeks – at a time, he ensured his company had the tools, processes and professionals to guarantee his clients are never left waiting.
“I employ people, not robots. When I came out of 2019, I built a better team, which helped me survive and come out ahead,” he says. In 2020, the company grew more than 10%, and by 2021, the company grew 54%.
During those incredibly difficult years after his partnership ended and the pandemic disrupted the global economy and the lives of everyone living in it, Anderson learned the value of having tools and a solid team in place to rebound after challenging times. It’s a lesson he passes on to his clients too, when they talk about cyber security protection.
“We’ve got an awesome set of tools to protect our clients, but there’s no magic silver bullet that’s going to prevent cyber-attacks,” Anderson explains. “Even with everything we do for our clients, I still can’t guarantee they’ll never get a virus, get hacked or have a cyber-incident. What I know is that we are reducing their risk. If something happens, we have the right tools in place to help businesses get past whatever happens.”
Tools and teamwork can’t prevent every hardship in business or in life. Anderson could never have imagined he’d split with his business partner right before a global crisis. Likewise, company leaders often can’t foresee an expert, targeted cyber-attack. It happens all the time. Still, Anderson reminds his clients that with the right tools and people in place, they can reduce their risk and respond quickly and reliably – maybe bouncing back better than before. And it’s often your response that determines your fate, Anderson says.
“Every business owner experiences low points. You can’t always control what happens to you, but you can always control how you respond,” he says. “It’s the actions you take after you face adversity that will determine if you come out the other side successful – or not.”
Riding The Wave Of Growth
Anderson has watched technology transform businesses for more than 20 years. Like many of his clients, he’s ridden the waves, the crest and the toughs of business transformation and has come out on the other side more successful than before. The company’s net profit has grown 900% in the last two years, and Anderson anticipates business growth of upwards of 71% for 2022.
Biztek Solutions was also awarded Most Innovative Company in 2015 and Best Service-Based Company in 2018 by Business Excellence Forum. But his proudest accomplishment to date is being a present father to his four-year-old daughter and two-year-old son, no matter what gets thrown at him.
Today, Anderson helps his clients overcome challenges and come out the other side better too. “I’m always excited to see relief and excitement in a client when a problem is solved and things are working far better,” he says. “We use technology to increase client productivity, drive their business and simplify processes. That’s truly my passion.”
For more information on Biztek Solutions, visit www.biztek-solutions.com.