We’re the best IT company in Southend, Essex, UK – that, sadly, no one knew of!
I’m the typical person described in the book The E-Myth. I was a techie working for an MSP in London; I was very upset with the way our customers were being treated and with my boss, who wouldn’t listen to my advice on embracing cloud computing rather than being scared of it.
So, I started Globalnet IT Innovations. I had no money, no real clients – just a passion for IT and customer service. Things went well, or so I thought. I’ve built the business up to $715,000 turnover, and I have five staff. The problem is that this growth was over a period of 12 years, so, really, it’s pretty lackluster. I still have no money in the bank, and even pre-Covid, business was looking incredibly bad. This year, I had been having discussions with my accountant about when and how I would shut down the business.
On top of this, we have a horrible client who is trying to knock us for $21,500, and my accountant made a HUGE error! They told me we were doing well, so I invested more money into my staff and our services. After I’d corrected his mistake, the bottom fell out of my balance sheet. By February 2022, I was $52,016.78 in debt and looking at making two redundancies at best and closing the business at worst.
I had dabbled in some marketing, and I had been paying a contractor to put it all in place, but it was a very slow process, for which “Perfect is the enemy of done” was an apt saying.
The Change Began
That contractor was one of my best, and I had to make the hard decision to let him go – I had to take ownership.
Knowing that things had to change, I invested some more money and got flights to Nashville for the TMT Boot Camp. This was an interesting experience, and listening to others’ stories showed me that there is hope and a light at the end of the tunnel. However, at the same time, I was mortified by some of the mistakes I have made over the years: how indecision and fear prevented my company from growing; how I haven’t taken full advantage of some of the opportunities along the way. How do I not know these simple KPIs I’m being asked? Why am I letting customers pay bottom rate for a top-end service? Things have to change. This is boom-or-bust time.
My Marketing Journey
I started reaching out to others in the industry for coaching and advice. One of the conversations I had with a fellow MSP was a breath of fresh air. He said I had a lot to do, that it could be overwhelming and that I needed to tackle things one at a time. He said my goal in the first few weeks was just to go out and sell some things, upgrade some PCs, etc., just to cover the costs of marketing.
This was great advice, and I did this quite easily.
For my second change, I had asked Robin Robins, CEO of TMT, “How do I employ my first salesperson when I’m on such a limited budget and have no incoming leads yet? Can they be the appointment setters too?”
“You don’t,” she replied. “You need a marketing admin. YOU are the salesperson. Use this time to go out there and learn what works, build and document your sales process so that you can pass on a runbook when the time comes. You are working IN and ON the business at the same time!”
So, I employed Megan. I spoke to the local college and took her on. She is a bright, enthusiastic person working fiercely and ambitiously on a business admin apprenticeship. Yes, I have marketing I need help with, but Robin also opened my mind to the wealth of other tasks I have been wasting time on, such as monthly billing and collecting receipts and invoices for the bookkeeper. Megan could help with these, and she could also help with the really important tasks that I never seem to get time for, like debt collection!
WINS Started To Come
Networking: I have always attended a weekly breakfast meeting but have gotten very little from it.
However, after going through the process of developing a unique selling proposition and documenting what makes us different and unique, I completely changed my introduction from a generic “We do IT” to “I am looking to work with field service companies. We specialize in cyber security and offer a free report.” I have started to get some traction from this now.
- We have had some referrals, such as a marketing agency passing me all of their Office 365 work.
- We met our new replacement accountant/bookkeeper, who started today.
- We are finding and attending new meetings in order to grow our list.
- Due to our increased social media/LinkedIn presence, we have had comments such as “Do I know you already?”
audit4IT: We had a previous tool but were not happy with the reports they generated. They were far too technical, so we have signed up for audit4IT.
- We have now performed 10 audits.
- Seven of these were for new prospects.
- One of our new prospects we won at $28,560 per year, and we still have to quote for a replacement telephone system and Internet lines for their branch offices.
- We are quoting for cyber security at two other small companies.
Technology Business Reviews (TBRs): I became religious about doing TBRs on a regular basis with my clients. I managed to get a TBR scheduled with a client I had been trying for ages to meet – she even replied to an automatic chaser and apologized for not getting back to me.
- We have performed four TBRs.
- We now have a properly documented process for performing TBRs.
- I received two referral e-mails and a ton of praise after our first meeting.
- One client wanted to update their e-mail security and phone system and is looking for new offices.
- We have a two-server install project for another client and a new remote desktop project and e-mail security for yet another.
- We have upgraded RapidFire Tools and are currently installing continued reporting for us to use in our TBRs.
- We have our cross-sell products configured in Keap for us to use in TBRs.
Drip E-mail Marketing: I was a little nervous about sending out weekly marketing e-mails called “Drip Tips,” so I started slowly, worried about a host of unsubscribes. (It’s a British thing.) However, I got the opposite – comments like “I saw your Drip Tips – I like them” and others saying it was a professional approach.
- Another marketing agency we had met at a networking event contacted us through the Drip Tips. He wanted to be sure he could trust a company before sending them/us all the IT support/Office 365 work he has – we’ve only had the first meeting so far, but he is still receiving our e-mails weekly.
- A second company we met through networking contacted me after a few weeks of receiving the Drip Tips. They have invited us to tender for their IT contract for a 20-user firm. I had the confidence to ask if price is the only factor, as we will be more expensive. They agreed it was worth paying more for a better service. We scheduled our final presentation with them.
Marketing Admin: Megan so far is:
- Doing 90% of the billing.
- Scheduling daily social media posts.
- List cleaning in Keap.
- Editing the monthly newsletter.
- Starting a debit-collection process with my clients.
- Unearthing more issues caused by ex-accountant (as of next month).
- Attending networking meetings with me to help remind me of the conversations we’ve had and to ensure I make the follow-ups.
- Co-creating a LinkedIn newsletter – this now has 700 subscribers!!
A co-managed client of ours ordered $42,000 of Office 365 licensing (annually) after receiving the 9-Word E-mail.
A company in London wants to use us for co-managed IT (overflow help-desk work) starting imminently – we are expecting a minimum of $55,125 per year.
Our Biggest Win!
My balance sheet, as of today, is $14,947!!
The business is far from in the clear, but finally it feels like things are moving in the correct direction. The staff have commented on it too. There’s a small buzz in the air.
For more information on Globalnet IT Innovations, visit https://www.gblnet.co.uk