Starting a company is hard, but growing that company into a successful, scalable enterprise is even harder. Our CEO weighs in on the most important factors for growing a successful business in 2018.
Q: When you started what is now Ntiva, did you have any specific vision in your head?
A: Not really, because I accidentally fell into meeting a market need, which was providing IT services and support to residential clients.
Q: Today, Ntiva provides IT services to businesses only. You no longer support residential clients. What happened along the way?
A: About 6 years in, I began to have a very clear vision of what I wanted Ntiva to become. I wanted to create an environment where we could grow people, and by this I mean intentionally putting a business model in place that would let us build a rock star team of IT techs, letting them operate at the highest level possible. Ultimately, this did not include residential IT services. In order to attract and retain the very best talent and stay true to the “why” for Ntiva, it was a part of the business that needed to be phased out. Razor sharp focus on what you do best, on where you add the most value, is critical.
Q: What do you mean by the “why” for Ntiva?
A: For any business, there is a “what” and a “why.” Everyone knows what they provide and are pretty good at describing it. But the best businesses are built around a why, which is understanding your real purpose, the cause or the belief that inspires you. Our why is to grow people through technology – providing the opportunity to literally change people’s lives by being the best at what they do, and then passing that benefit on to our clients.
Q: What was the hardest thing you had to battle to stay focused and on track?
A: It’s tempting to take on any new opportunity that drops into the funnel, even if the project, task or customer doesn’t really fit. This ends up draining both energy and time, and ultimately is not profitable. It often takes some unpleasant lessons to figure out exactly what to focus on and what to let go. But in order to grow a business based on what you do better than anyone else, you need to stop saying “yes” to everything. Ultimately it’s up to the CEO to set the vision and the direction, to stay on point with the company message, and to make sure everyone in the company embraces it.
Q: What do you recommend to start this process?
A: First, you need to connect with your team and your clients to figure out what creates the most value for both – and what does not. Stop doing what does not add significant value to your goals, either by doing it in a very limited fashion or refer the business to someone else. Finally, figure out the why for your business. I was inspired by Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why” but there are other similar philosophies out there.
Q: Parting advice?
A: It’s true that market forces will sometimes necessitate a change in company direction. Economic changes, disruptive technologies, unexpected competition – no one expects a company to stay static. There are many important elements required for a successful business, but if I had to summarize recommendations for 2018:
- Understand what your company does best
- Understand the “why” you do what you do
- Communicate the vision and stay the course!