How Leah Freiman Grew Her Company 300% Without Selling While Battling Cancer During A Pandemic

  • Company: ItCon
  • Year Founded: 2008
  • Headquartered: Spring Valley, New York
  • Geographic Market: New York And Metro Areas
  • Top Growth Indicator: Revenues Up $1,573,896 – Monthly Recurring Revenue Up $82,719
  • YoY % Of Growth: 177% In 2020
  • CEO And Co-Founder: Leah Freiman
  • CTO And Co-Founder: Moshe Freiman

What Made You Decide To Stop Selling In 2020?

On the one hand, my business was making nice money, covering the bills, and I was doing better than ever. On the other hand, I was always waiting for “the other shoe to drop.” I knew my business wasn’t sustainable, and with the market shifting quickly toward security, I would be up nights, worrying that my clients would get hacked. While we’d hired people to help with capacity, the processes and systems weren’t working anymore. We were still operating as a one-man band, and we needed to change if we were going to continue to grow.

In 2020, You Had A Lot To Deal With — Suddenly You’ve Got Your Six Kids Learning From Home Instead Of At School, Your Dad Had Cancer, You Were Diagnosed With Cancer, And You Moved. How Did You Persist Through All Of That And Still Manage To Grow Your Business?

The hardest thing was the inconsistency when the school was open one day and closed the next because I didn’t know when I was working from home and when I wasn’t. And it was hard when my gym closed and when my exercise routine changed because of cancer.

My biggest secret is to find a way to enjoy everything I do. Even when I was going through cancer, I found ways to laugh. I’m an unofficial standup comedian. We take things seriously, but everything is better with humor. You can cry through something and make it painful, or you can make it exciting, but the situation is not going to change. Every single day I look in the mirror and say, “Did I do my best? Can I do better? Am I doing what I need to do? Am I doing what I want to do?” And if you don’t want to do it, make yourself want to. Everything I do, I love. When I used to be a cleaning girl, I loved to clean. I don’t do what I love; I love what I do.

Were There Any Partners Or Businesses That Helped You Along The Way?

One of our most important goals during the year 2020 was finding and eliminating the bottlenecks holding us back. Questions such as “Do we service this for this client?” or “I have a stupid five-minute ticket, but where’s the password?” were commonplace. Like a paper cut, it is the small things that seem simple but become significant issues that are seemingly the most frustrating. While it took time getting there, there’s no mistaking that we are in a very different place now. Questions for information are always answered with “Did you check ITGlue?” — and they only get rarer by the day. Tickets get closed faster, and confidence only continues to grow in the system. Clients love it, as they can see how carefully everything is documented, and that lets them know that the keys to their business are in the right hands. During our quarterly business reviews (QBRs), we log into ITGlue in front of the client and show them how everything is documented. When a client sees it right in front of their face, it becomes real, and it’s extremely impressive. I cannot imagine having a sustainable company without ITGlue.

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

Part of the reason that I stopped sales in 2020 was because my metrics were off. We started working with a fantastic company, Sealevel, that helps with processes. In 2020, we started using reporting software and ran a lot of reports in it. Now, every single day, we run the hours clocked in by the employee and how many hours they put into each ticket. Every morning, I look at the employee’s clock-in and clock-out. It takes me about three minutes. Every day, we have each employee do a payroll wrap, which is where they look at their calendar, and in the reporting software, they look at what was actually scheduled on their calendar. The calendars overlap so you can see how they line up. Techs usually work about 9.5 hours a day. If they don’t have at least eight hours in time entries, they do a payroll wrap to explain where that extra time went. They may have had appointments, but those should be listed as an activity. Every minute has to be put in, but I give them and hour and a half buffer.

Then, at the end of the day, we look at how many hours we put into each client and how much each client is paying. We look at what hours are billable and what are non-billable so we can see how much we are making on each client. We use a dashboard reporting company to know how many tickets we are closing a day overall as well as per tech. If they are closing less, this tracked data helps us understand why. So, that’s a big metric. My husband looks at these reports every day. I look at it weekly because my husband and I have a CEO/ CTO meeting every week where we go through the numbers.

I run my QuickBooks reports every week to see who’s paying, who’s not paying along with what each client is paying, and how many tickets were closed for that week. If there are a lot of requests, I look at what kind of request they have and what priority they are. Priority ones are emergencies. We should have no priority ones because we are proactive, so if there is a priority one, I go back and look to see if we missed something and why it was a priority one. Sometimes this will turn into a good project. For example, in the Northwest in the last six weeks, Verizon was down three times. Cellphones, the internet, and so on. I was able to go to the client, show them the amount of time they were down, and make a recommendation to switch them over to a different provider that was more expensive but also was never down and is never down.

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

The biggest challenge was reinventing my “why.” I stopped being hungry. I’d moved into the gorgeous, huge house with a pool. We are driving a beautiful Cadillac. My dream was to give to charity, and we have a big charity account and were able to donate $100,000 to charity in 2020. I worked 13 years to get to the place I wanted to be. It was no longer about finding money to pay for therapy or for tuition — the necessities are very nicely covered. I had to reinvent myself and find my new why. Once I was able to find my new why, I was able to become hungry for that why. It’s all about your why. When you have a good why, the how becomes so easy and so enjoyable.

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

There’s a saying in Hebrew that translates to “If I am not here for myself, then who is here for me?”

Everybody can come up with excuses for why they’re not doing well. And there’s a million things that are going on in the world. For me, it’s a pandemic, a child with special needs, five other kids, a husband. I bought a house and moved four weeks after surgery. I battled cancer. Elderly parents and caring for my dad. All these things. The biggest piece is you have to be honest with yourself, stop giving yourself excuses, and just do it. When I bought the Technology Marketing Toolkit, I didn’t let it sit on the shelf. I implemented slower than many people because I didn’t have the resources and money at first, but I never let it drop. I was always marketing. I was always implementing. And I’ve continued to make sure I’m always implementing, and I never make excuses.

Who Would You Say Is The Most Impactful Business Leader Whose Techniques Or Leadership Style You Try To Emulate And Why?

I try to emulate Stephen Covey. I live by his “seven habits.” They just work. His seven habits are so down to earth and something I could implement in my business to get it rolling.

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

Hands down, it’s any book by Dr. Nido Qubein; he is an inspiration. He had so many roadblocks in his life, and he did so much. He can look back at his life and say, “Wow, I made an impact.”

Like Stephen Covey says, “I want to look back when I’m 80. I want to look back and know that I made an impact.” He has so much substantial stuff that he’s made an impact on. He’s my biggest inspiration.

Another good book is “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. It teaches you how to be a CEO and how to have good relationships and communicate with people. It’s a good book for business owners.

Any Specific Advice Or Words Of Wisdom That You Would Give To Other MSPs Who Are Looking To Grow Or Build A Successful Exit For Their Business?

Don’t give up. In exercise, they say that when it’s the most painful is when it counts the most. That’s true in business and in life. Do not let go. When it’s the most painful and you think you can’t do any more, just keep going a little bit more. I didn’t always have rapid growth. Sometimes I was taking baby steps when other people were taking giant steps, but I was always taking a step up. And one more thing: Don’t look at the big successful people and think, “Oh, I’m never going to get there.” Look in the mirror and be the best person you can be. Get yourself to your next level, not someone else’s. When you do that, you’ll see things start happening for you. Just keep pushing and never give up.

https://www.itconinc.com/