In business, I’ve heard it said that we must “Grow or die” (by who, I wonder?). This is one of the more pervasive business myths I see so many in those that run IT consulting companies supporting the SME space. They think that for the business to succeed, it needs to expand the revenue base and hire a bunch of employees. Yes, this is one path, but there are many other well-worn paths to success in this business. Growth is important and achievable even if you’re a single person shop. How? By having a growth mindset.
I first came across this concept in Satya Nadella’s book Hit Refresh. He was describing a kind of psychology with reference to his leading changes in Microsoft’s culture. This is the mindset of learning continually versus being fixed in one place. In my mind, it’s the idea that one can look at lemons and do the work that makes lemonade. But, how might this relate to you as a very small IT consultant/MSP?
The key is growing laterally.
Let me explain with an example. You’re running an IT shop in a small area. So small that you probably have every client you could hope to get without undercutting or poaching clients from another company. What can you do to grow from here? One way is to start something bigger, perhaps national. That could work. But another way is growing into new kinds of work. You sell hardware, why not finance. You resell cloud services why not try building a cloud service. The key is growing into new lines of business from where you are.
That’s not easy, of course. There is the cost of getting there. Possibly training yourself (or others). And, the new competition you may not have accounted for. But, when you make progress doing this, you can often create new revenue where there was nothing; even something unexpected might become how most of your revenue is earned years from now. You could open the doors to other kinds of clients too (such as Government).
Growing and learning should never stop, but I don’t think that growing a company into a hundred employees is always the best gauge of success. Giving how many are now leaving or being forced into working for themselves, I think these ideas will really be put to the test over the next 20 years.
I think that’s where a growth mindset comes in. Looking at every chance you get to grow your skills, options, product line, offerings is the byproduct of this sort of thinking. And, it’s all doable still if you’re a one-person IT Consulting dynamo.
Another form of growth is to create a newsletter. I have one. You should subscribe.