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Business Tenure: Does It Really Mean Anything?
By Stuart Selbst
In April, Stuart Selbst Consulting celebrated its fourth year anniversary. After two years consulting with MSPs through other firms I started coaching MSPs on my own in 2009. This year, I brought my wife Loree on to help our partners with customer service, people management and internal operational processes.
I decided to write this post after looking at my personal LinkedIn page where I found a number of congratulatory messages from partners and others whose paths I’ve crossed over the years. It got me thinking about business tenure. Often businesses will share that they have been, “In business since…" or were “Established in…." Does the fact that they have tenure automatically make them better? Does it make them more experienced? Does it make them better than a start-up?
At Stuart Selbst Consulting, we work with all levels of technology support firms, managed services providers (MSPs), from start-ups to the more established. What makes them different besides who runs them and where they are located? Everything makes them different. Each one of our partners has a different struggle, from the start-up to the more established firm. Our partners who have been in business for years are still struggling with issues. The partner who is just starting has different challenges, but challenges just the same.
When someone has been in business for many years they develop battle scars, if you will. These scars result from going through both good times and bad times; whether it is employee issues, client struggles or what have you. Battle scars build character. A good business owner will wear them like a badge of honor and they can tell you how a failure turned into a valuable learning experience.
Something I often see in someone who is new in business over someone who has been in business for years are dreams. They still dream of what may become of their efforts in their new venture/ I am not saying that the established business isn’t thinking about what may be, but they have battled for many years and, in my opinion, have come to accept where their business is at in the world.
We’ve recently come back from working with an MSP who has been in business for many years but just hasn’t found their niche. This business has potential for great success and up to this point has mostly functioned as a lifestyle business. Something that Loree and I see with a business like this is the owner becomes very set in their ways, which is to be expected. It’s a natural result of being in business for so many years and doing things in specific ways. While it’s great to have tenure, in order to grow it will require being open to new ways of doing things. Nothing ventured, nothing gained as they say.
Think back on why you started your business. What was your passion? Do you still have that passion? What were the fears then and what are they today? How have you overcome your fears? What are you struggling with today and how will you overcome those struggles? If you are at a crossroads, like many are, the first step is to admit it and confront it head on. Hire a consultant or a coach to help you get through it. I am sure that they can help you.
Stuart Selbst is president of Stuart Selbst Consulting which helps technology services firms attain success through focusing on customer service along with process and team development. He has worked with hundreds of firms globally who have all achieved different levels of success. Selbst has more than 20 years of technical experience having worked in large corporate IT departments and he holds multiple technical, engineering and security certifications. He also is a member of the 2013-14 Channel Partners Advisory Board.