Learning From The Experts: eNet System’s Ash Pirwani Finds Strength In Business Mentorship

  • Company:  eNet Systems, Inc.
  • Founded: 2000
  • Headquartered: Houston, Texas
  • Geographic Market: Houston, Austin, and San Antonio, Texas
  • Top Growth Indicator: Sales and marketing tactics to generate predictable leads and prospects
  • YoY Percent of Growth: 34%
  • CEO and Founder: Ash Pirwani

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

It is very important for an entrepreneur to keep an eye on several metrics that indicate the success or failure of the business. I had to learn these, so all credit goes to my mentors. The fact is that it’s very easy for an entrepreneur to get caught up in the day-to-day operations and lose sight of the big picture. But without measuring key performance indicators, an entrepreneur can’t determine if they’re headed in the right direction and whether a course correction is needed. With this in mind, these are eNet’s top three metrics.

1. EBITDA: One of the most important metrics for us is EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization). This indicates the company’s profitability, and some may call it profit or net profit before taxes. A healthy enterprise must have an EBITDA within a certain range to not only sustain itself but to also be able to finance its growth. At eNet, we aim to have an EBITDA of 15%–20%.

2. Contextualize EBITDA: The second metric I pay a lot of attention to is a group of metrics. Once you know what your EBITDA is, you must dig deeper to find out why. To do that, an MSP should know how much profit margin each of their products or service lines makes, as well as what each department costs. So, the group of numbers I look at is gross profit for products and services, sales and marketing costs, the service department’s cost, and general administration costs.

3. Service Performance: The third area I keep an eye on is our service performance metrics. Among these, I look at our response times, issue resolution times, and the percentage of items that must be redone.

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

Personally, I have a technical background as most MSP founders do. Delivering high-quality service was not a problem for us. However, finding new customers was. It was in 2014 when I felt like we were hitting a ceiling where our revenue would go up and then come back down. While I was pondering over that, a business coaching firm somehow marketed to me. I got a business coach who coached me through various areas of how a company grows. I learned how you’re supposed to present your company to prospects, what the follow-up tasks are, and what the steps are to get business from existing clients and referrals.

I realized it was something I could learn, just like you learn any other trade in school. After learning a little bit about sales, I realized that just like any technical trade, you can go to school to learn how to sell. Once I learned this, it was a matter of investing resources into a good team and leveraging their time and knowledge to grow.

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

The one thing I’ve learned from my numerous mentors over the years is that there is no one “secret to success.” An entrepreneur must master lots of different areas in order to achieve what they consider success.

However, if we’re talking about just the past year, I would say our secret was in knowing the numbers. I used to pay attention to just the top-line and bottom-line numbers. I didn’t know what factors made up those numbers. For the last couple of years, I started paying attention to how we were getting to those numbers, and I started controlling those factors. As a result, our EBITDA doubled from 2018 to 2019.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome this past year related to either reaching that growth or as a result of that growth?

I think the biggest challenge has been keeping our service level consistently high as a result of the growth. We added more clients this year than we ever have. On average, we added one new account every 19 days. Each client came with additional opportunities for projects, and that put a tremendous load on our technical and administrative teams. We went through the growing pains, put in several new processes and measurements to iron out the kinks in our service delivery, and we continue to improve upon that foundation.

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

I’ve had so many mentors who have helped make me the person I am today. I would say my top coaches have been John C. Maxwell, Jim Rohn, Michael Gerber and his coaching team, the Action Coach team, Joel Osteen, Darren Hardy, Mike Michalowicz, and Robert Kiyosaki. I would put Robin Robins in there, too. She went from nothing, from being homeless and not knowing where her next meal was going to come from to having an ultra-successful company with no debt and all of these professional admirers of her work and people she mentors.

I used to make — and I still make — the comment that if I had learned what I learned from these mentors and coaches, if I had learned that while I was in college, I would have been in a completely different place. Going through school, earning my bachelor’s degree, and taking a few master’s classes have set a good foundation for me. Once you complete your formal education, that’s when your real education starts.

So, if you want to continue to grow, you have to work with mentors either one-to-one, through their books, or through seminars. Once I learned this principle, I could not get enough of it.

What book would you recommend to other MSPs or SMBs trying to grow their businesses?

We become what we think, and our thinking is influenced by what we read and hear. I read a lot of books about business, leadership, and spirituality. The ones which have had a lifechanging impact on me are “The Compound Effect,” “The E-Myth Revisited,” “Leadership 101,” and others in a series from John C. Maxwell; “Living an Exceptional Life,” and many others by Jim Rohn; the “Rich Dad Poor Dad” series of books by Robert Kiyosaki; “The Magic of Thinking Big” by David J. Schwartz; and “Profit First” by Mike Michalowicz. Many others have had a profound impact on my way of thinking and living, too.

In closing, do you have 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 have two pieces of advice, not just for MSPs but for any entrepreneur trying to grow their business:

  1. Know Your Numbers: You have to keep an eye on what’s on the dashboard while driving your business. That’s your job as the leader of the organization.
  • Leverage: You cannot grow until you learn how to “leverage.” There are many types of leverage, and I’ll quickly mention the three most common ones.
    • OPM (Other People’s Money): The most commonly known leverage is OPM. If you want to get a large project but don’t have the funds to deliver it, don’t just pass it up. Get a loan, get an advance from your line of credit, or use your bank’s money to win and deliver large projects to grow. Leverage other people’s money.
    • OPT (Other People’s Time): An entrepreneur cannot grow by doing everything alone. In order to serve more and more people, they must recruit a team of people and leverage their time.
    • OPK (Other People’s Knowledge): There are many things an entrepreneur must learn to create a successful enterprise. Don’t try to create everything from scratch; learning at the University of Hard Knocks takes a long time! Leverage and learn from the knowledge of mentors and business coaches to get to your goals quicker.

None of this is my own invented knowledge. All of these are things I learned from various successful businesspeople who have gone before us, and a couple of key mentors taught me the financial aspects of it and the leverage aspects of it. I think we all need to find people who were worse off than us and now they are better off than us. They are people we need to attach ourselves to and ask, “How did they do that?” because they are the ones who are the real examples of success we can all learn from.