Letting Go To Drive Business Growth

  • Company: Just Solutions, Inc.
  • Founded: 1997
  • Headquartered: Fairport, New York
  • Geographic Market: Western New York
  • Top Growth Indicator: Revenue Growth
  • YoY% Of Growth: 20%
  • Co-Founders: David A. Wolf and Tracy Wolf

What Are The Top Three Metrics That You Use To Measure Your Business And Why?

I use my monthly recurring revenue (MRR). That drives my growth and my stability, and it’s a good predictor of my projected revenue. With my MRR, I know what I can expect to do thiliamwils year in revenue, and it gives me the ability to budget and staff appropriately.

The other big metric is revenue per employee. I’m trying to learn industry best practices, and I know experts talk about revenue per employee. My goal is $200K per employee with a bottom threshold of $150K. I’m averaging in the middle there, and I’d like to keep pushing that higher all the time.

That number is a little bit elastic — as you add somebody, it drives it down — but if I stay in that range, I know I’m running a fairly profitable business. I also track net profit. I’m shooting for 15% net profit, and I’m okay with it being 5% if that 10% difference is because I’m reinvesting in the business. If it’s at 15%, I’m paying a lot of taxes, so I’d rather reinvest. Every year, we’re pretty much hitting that number.

What Is The Top Lesson You Had To Learn That Allowed You To Kick-Start Your Business Growth?

I learned from Gino Wickman to delegate and elevate. I don’t have to do everything, and everything doesn’t have to be done my way. What I have to do is empower people. If I lay out their job responsibilities and goals clearly, how they get from point A to point B needs to be their choice.  Everybody has a different style. Without hiring more people and letting them do more things, I never would have grown.

I really worked hard to get myself out of the service area. Most of us start these businesses with a technical background, and a lot of us get stuck on the idea that we’re our best tech and that our customers want us, and we end up hanging in there too long. It’s hard to let people make mistakes and learn, but we have to do that to grow a business. Now that I have 20 or so engineers, they teach me new things, and I teach them new things. Delegate and elevate is really the big thing that helped me get here.

What Would You Say Was The Single Secret To Your Success This Past Year?

Technology Marketing Toolkit has really transformed my business. I signed up with Robin in 2004, and at the time, I was doing maybe $400,000–$500,000 in revenue. We broke $4.5 million last year, and I attribute a lot of it to the lessons learned from people like Robin Robins. She brings in so many industry experts that it has really made me a better business owner. I’ve learned about customer service, and she brings in such great speakers that it has really helped me move beyond just being a tech.

She had Robert Herjavec speak a few times, and one of the things that stuck in my mind was that he asked everybody in the room, “Show of hands, how many people have one salesperson — maybe it’s just you and that one other person?” Almost everyone’s hand went up. And he told us that without salespeople, we were never going to grow.

I knew he was right.

There, I had the wake-up call about adding sales and marketing people. That has been really important in our growth. It can’t be just Dave selling everything. When you’re on vacation and come back to new customers and new sales, that’s when you know you have a business, not a job. That’s when you really start feeling proud about what you’ve built: when the business doesn’t stop when you’re on vacation. And bringing in salespeople has been a big part of getting us to that point.

What Was The Biggest Challenge You Had To Overcome This Past Year Related To Either Reaching Your Growth Or As A Result Of Your Growth?

Committing to the business and really just letting go. Going back to delegate and elevate — it comes back to letting other people be in charge of things and not sticking your nose into everything. And that’s hard. It’s hard for us to let go. People always talk about businesses being your baby, and you know, parents have a hard time letting their kids go. I guess that’s why we have the teenage years, right? Because by the time the teenage years are over, parents are ready to kick their kids out.

With our business being a little over 20 years old, I feel like we’re past our teenage years and becoming an adult. I feel like the business is maturing. We have a senior leadership team now, and we plan and discuss everything together. It’s not a dictatorship of the owner anymore; it’s really an organized, concerted effort. That’s what’s so great about the process.

Who Would You Say Is The Most Impactful Business Leader Or Business Thought-Leader Whose Techniques Or Leadership Style You Either Try To Emulate Or Follow Or Are Influenced By And Why?

Marcus Lemonis. I really like his philosophy that if your employees aren’t being successful, it’s a failure of management. It’s your failure if you don’t train, guide, and lead them. Hiring is just as important. If you don’t do a good job of hiring, then you’re setting the hire up for failure, as well. “Slow to hire, fast to fire” is important too, as long as you’re doing everything that you can to help the employee be successful. I really like his approach to that.

Mike Michalowicz, who wrote “The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur: The Tell-It-Like-It-Is Guide to Cleaning Up

in Business, Even if You Are at the End of Your Roll,” “The Pumpkin Plan: A Simple Strategy to Grow a Remarkable Business in Any Field,” and “Profit First: Transform Your Business From a Cash-Eating  Monster to a Money-Making Machine,” has also been a big influence on me. And once I learned that Robert Herjavec was in our technology space, he became a big influence as well. Every successful person who has written a business book — I’ve probably read the book. Whether it’s Jobs, Gates, or someone else, you can get nuggets of information from all of them.

What Book Would You Recommend That Other MSPs Or SMBs Trying To Grow Their Business Should Read?

I think Mike Michalowicz is probably the best recommendation. “The Pumpkin Plan” and “Profit First” are excellent books. As their business grows, people should jump on the Gino Wickman wagon and read his book “Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business.” I like Verne Harnish and all of his books too. I really make an effort to read all of them. It’s hard to pick just one!

In Closing, 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?

Work yourself out of the business. The business can run without you. Obviously, it’s better with you, but the fact that it can run without you is important. People need to be empowered to make decisions based on your culture and your company values. Then, your business becomes fun. You don’t dread it because you get to work on fun projects. You’re not getting in the way of your growth anymore. Then, when you go to sell it, people can see that the value is not all tied up in the owner; the value is in the business. That’s the key. The business has got to be able to run without you because, otherwise, you have a job, not a business.