Partnering with other partners has been a two-way street, moreover, for both Klein and Stanley Louissaint, principal and founder of Fluid Designs, a one-person IT consultancy in Union City, N.J., that cleared $1 million for the first time in 2020 and did even better last year. “The people around you who you may look at as competitors may actually be a source of revenue,” he says. “There are sometimes things that I can do that they can’t.”
Liberman emphasizes a larger lesson in that observation: No one can do everything on their own. Delegating technical work to his employees so he could focus on sales, marketing, vendor selection, payroll, taxes, and everything else that goes into running a company has been a big part of the formula that got him to $1 million a year.
“You have to learn to let go, even in a small business,” he says. “You have to trust your people to do what they need to do.”
Asking for Help
You have to be willing to ask for and accept help when required as well, adds Liberman, who freely acknowledges that he’d never have crossed his latest financial milestone without assistance from managed services consultants like Karl Palachuk and Richard Tubbs and membership organizations like The ASCII Group and Tech Tribe.
Louissaint solicits help on critical functions like sales and marketing from his customers as well as peers and advisers. “I’m not afraid to ask for referrals,” he says.
Neither is Klein, who gets most of his new clients from existing ones rather than lead-generation campaigns. “Rather than go after the end user, I go after the influencers and then have them drive new business to me,” he says.
Like many small-scale, high-revenue channel pros, however, Klein has found selling more to the clients he already has to be a bigger source of growth than landing new customers. “It’s always easier and more profitable,” he says.
Liberman, who credits almost all of his 34% revenue growth in 2021 to existing customers, agrees. “Cross-sell and upsell are always the most cost-effective way to bring in business,” he says.
Being selective about the kind of customer you work with can lower overhead too, adds Hardtke. “When you’re first starting out, you kind of take anybody,” she says. “Now I go after very small clients that are typically under 25 endpoints.” Most of her clients also have simple networks, she continues, which allows her to support them without employing a Level 2 or 3 technician.
Better yet, sticking to simple networks leaves plenty of time for soaking up the magic of Maui. “I can’t complain,” Hardtke says. “I’m kind of just living the dream.”