Exponential Growth By Starting Back At The Basics

  • Company:  SMB Networks, LLC
  • Founded: 2006
  • Headquartered: Hamden, CT
  • Geographic Market: Medical professional services, small and medium-sized businesses, and nonprofits in Connecticut
  • Top Growth Indicator: Gross sales, profit, and monthly recurring revenue
  • YoY Percent of Growth: 2017–2018, 145%, and 2018–2019, 154%
  • CEO & Founder: Peter Verlezza

What are the top three metrics that you use to measure your business and why?

We measure the growth of our business through gross sales (top line), net profits (bottom line), and monthly recurring revenue. In the last two years, though there are many other indicators, these KPIs represent the most significant growth indicators. During 2018 and 2019, our gross sales grew by 145% and 154%, respectively. All other metrics fell in sync with these numbers.

What was the biggest lesson you had to learn that allowed you to kick-start your business growth?

I had to learn that commitment to growth is a requirement for growth. Before I made this commitment, I was a lifestyle entrepreneur. This realization hit me when I turned 60 and began to think about an exit strategy. In the not too distant future, I want a recurring dividend from this business with few responsibilities. At the time (July 2017), I was wearing too many hats and making most of the decisions. In other words, I was carrying the company on my shoulders. Although I was in a comfortable spot (i.e., lifestyle entrepreneur mentality), I recognized that to have a mind that keeps on giving, I needed continuous growth, and this required me to look at the foundation. As I mobilized, it became clear that going back to the basics and building from there would be the best strategy.

What would you say was the single secret to your success this past year?

I delegated operations to trusted employees, and I shifted my focus to our marketing and sales. My strategy is to build sustainable processes that have a positive ROI, and as I said, I went back to the basics. The following is what I’ve done to fortify my foundation:

  • Refined the definition of my target market: I began succinctly going through every part of my target market and drilling down the details of precisely who I wanted to reach out to and what were the best options to do just that.
  • Tightened my unique selling proposition: Once again, I had to look at our competition and our differences. Then, I focused on what sets us apart from others and phrased a message that speaks to my target audience.
  • Started to re-qualify and grow my marketing list: As you know, this is the gift that keeps on giving and is a sizable chunk of the value of a healthy company.
  • Executed direct response marketing consistently.
  • Made sure that all of us at SMB Networks go above and beyond with our service to ensure our clients remain raving fans.
  • Met with our clients regularly to review their tech and business plans and goals.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome this past year relating to your business and growth?

My biggest challenge was to choose discomfort. In more familiar terms, I had to get out of my comfort zone. I had to change my philosophy and let my new attitude ripple through to the culture of my company.

Although successful, SMB Networks was built with little marketing. We were growing at the pace of a snail, and I wanted more from my business. So, I recognized I had to do something different and forgo the comfort of the status quo. I had to break away from my usual way of thinking.

Who would you say is the most impactful business leader or business thought-leader whose techniques or leadership style you either try to emulate, you follow, or you are influenced by, and why?

Well, there are many talented thought leaders out there, but since I must pick one: Technology Marketing Toolkit’s CEO, Robin Robins. Aside from the fact that she is a fantastic individual, I admire her capacity to take people’s thoughts and ideas — from business leaders, team members, and her entire ecosystem — and build from them. I look to her and her organization for the most effective and efficient methods for success.

Using the exact formula that she encourages us to use, Robin has built a very successful and caring business. Furthermore, her team genuinely cares about TMT and all the people they come in contact with, including clients, prospects, vendors, you name it.

Something I learned from her is that the lifeblood of any business is sales and marketing, and for MSPs, it just so happens that technology is the product we sell.

What book would you recommend that other MSPs or SMBs trying to grow their business should read?

I have a long list of books that have influenced my thinking, but I can name two that have had a tangible impact in ALL areas of my life: “The Compound Effect” and “Atomic Habits.”

“The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy is based on the principle that the decisions we make shape our destiny. His emphasis is on the relationship of the small choices we make every day. In other words, the decision we made yesterday influences the decision we make today, which will impact the decision we make tomorrow. This relationship compounds over time to build our realities, which can be happy lives of self-realization or hellish and depressing ones.

“Atomic Habits” by James Clear fundamentally conveys the same idea, but he focuses more on the practical aspects of behavior change. His primary thesis is that a 1% daily improvement compounds. He presents a framework that we can use to effectively and efficiently make sustainable changes to our behavior.

I think these two books go hand in hand; Hardy presents the nature of growth, and Clear gives us a technology we can use to leverage that principle.

In closing, is there any specific advice or ‘words of wisdom’ that you would give to other MSPs looking to grow or build a successful exit for their business?

I would advise anyone who is struggling with growth to get the basics down. The growth of SMB Networks over the past couple years has been the result of methodically and systematically following marketing and sales processes that have worked for others. We were able to achieve a triple-digit growth rate doing the ordinary. We didn’t pull ourselves up by the bootstraps, we didn’t have a massive sale, nor did we sign a big client. As I said, it’s all been organic, run-of-the-mill, grass-roots growth. Whether you believe it or not, the fact is that the basics are critical. And to grow our businesses, a strong marketing foundation and proper sales execution are essential.