Scott Beck was a senior in high school when his mom knocked on his bedroom door and asked him a question that would shape the course of his life.
“I remember my mother knocking on my door in my senior year of high school saying, ‘Scott, all you do is you sit in your bedroom, you listen to music, and you smoke cigarettes. What are you going to do with your life?’” Beck recalls of that fateful day. “And I thought, ‘What can I do where I can listen to music and smoke cigarettes? I know … I’ll get into radio.’”
So, that’s just what he did. Decades after that fateful knock, Beck’s decision to enter radio would transform his career path and lead him to entrepreneurship. After nearly a decade of living paycheck to paycheck and scaling the business on his own, Beck learned how he could position his IT business, BeckTek — and himself — as the experts in technology and cybersecurity. Today, BeckTek has grown from a one-man operation raking in $160,000 to a five-person team netting in nearly $1 million — and they’re still growing.
It wasn’t a transformation that happened overnight; Beck climbed his way to celebrity status in the IT industry one day at a time.
Building BeckTek And His Celebrity
When he was still a young adult, Beck became an on-air personality in his hometown in the Atlantic region of Canada during what he called “the tail-end of the good years in radio.” It was the perfect gig for the kid who just wanted to listen to music, but the technology was moving in fast. Beck’s radio station was one of the first in the region to become automated and adapt to a live assistant system. The goal was to make radio DJs’ jobs easier, but ultimately, Beck explained, the system replaced the DJs.
Prior to the boot, Beck “saw the writing on the wall” and began diving into computers and technology until these machines became a hobby. Later, Beck would work for the Canadian Department of Justice, where he was introduced to servers and security. A passion Beck didn’t know existed was ignited, and he returned to school to study network administration. After that, he would work for large corporations like Dell and IBM as a regional representative.
But Beck soon had a revelation about his job. He was being paid by his company to do work that he could easily do on his own, and if he did that, he could be in control of his time and how much money he made.
“Thus began BeckTek at my house,” Beck says. Beck founded BeckTek in 2004 out of his home in Canada, and for nearly a decade, he ran the one-man operation on his own. He survived, but it wasn’t always easy.
“In those early years, I remember thinking on Monday, ‘How am I going to pay the mortgage on Friday?’ and struggling through,” Beck recalls. “Luckily things always landed for me, and through the first 8–9 years, I would say it SCOTT BECK’S JOURNEY TO IT CELEBRITY was definitely a lifestyle business. I was trying to make money so I could live … I was working 18–19 hours a day doing tech by myself. I was trading time for money, and I just didn’t have anymore time to trade.”
Becoming The Expert
Beck had had enough. He needed to find a solution to scaling his company and growing its influence without burning himself out.
“I was really a technician at heart. I had no idea about running a business, no idea about marketing, no idea about looking at financials — none of it,” Beck says. “I was a technician putting out one fire to the next.”
In a search for help, Beck found Technology Marketing Toolkit (TMT), an IT-specialty marketing coaching platform founded by Robin Robins out of Nashville, Tennessee. The idea was to become the solution all his clients needed and position himself as a leader in his industry. At first, the marketing tactics and strategies appeared too “hokey” for Beck’s taste; he never thought they would fly in Canada. But he was desperate and figured it was now or never.
Beck would soon coordinate with TMT on a book project. The goal was to educate the public about IT needs and cybersecurity while framing Beck as the expert they need. Protection, Beck says, is the biggest issue facing technology today, but many business managers and owners were novices in the world of cybersecurity.Beck felt a responsibility to change that.
It was that book that inspired Beck to reach out to his local chamber of commerce and CPA firm regulatory body to inquire about hosting a seminar that focused on cybersecurity. The idea, Beck recalls, wasn’t accepted right away.
“I remember so well people going, ‘Um, no one is going to be interested in that.’ But because I kept asking and was polite … they said, ‘Alright, we’ll do it,’” Beck says. “So, I ended up in a room for the local chamber of commerce, where it was normal to have 6–10 people for breakfast and learning — we filled the room with 44 people.”
Turns out, people were interested.
That was the beginning of Beck’s journey toward becoming one of North America’s most sought-after experts on IT and cybersecurity. That talk led to another seminar, which led to more talks at different companies. Beck has since written two books — with a third on the way — has been featured on every TV network in the U.S. and Canada, and was featured in the Amazon Prime documentary, “Cyber Crime.” He’s also spoken at Harvard and NASDAQ and been a featured keynote speaker at many industry events.
But these aren’t just pretty accolades Beck can tack onto his wall. These are moves that start conversations and position him as the top guy people turn to when they need security.
“All these pieces of media help change your position,” Beck says. “Now, people reach out to me … You’re not just the sales guy. You’re seen as a resource that can help solve problems.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, that’s exactly what people needed. BeckTek had programs and platforms in place prior to the pandemic that would allow BeckTek and their clients to transform from an in-person office to a digital one, there were several busy weeks helping clients make the transition smoothly. Rather than panic, Beck put his knowledge and status to use to help companies that weren’t his clients as well.
Beck and his team compiled articles and resources for his fellow business community. He sent the pieces to local trade groups for a free resource during an unprecedented event. The topics included managing security from home and avoiding coronavirus-related scams. They were simple concepts that, as a leader in IT, BeckTek could formulate for their clients.
“I’m quite sure that because of these resources and getting out in front of it, that helped position us,” Beck says. “I was determined that we were going to come out of this and thrive — not just survive.”
‘Don’t Eat The Elephant Whole’
Beck’s celebrity success isn’t singular to the IT community. Beck engages with and coaches fellow entrepreneurs and business leaders on his successes, seeing in them that same struggling business leader who was hitting the ceiling less than 10 years ago.
His secret? Take it one step at a time.
“You can’t eat the elephant all at once. I didn’t wake up and have a slew of television appearances. You have to take this slow,” Beck says.
To start, Beck recommends business leaders contact their local chamber of commerce and inquire about running a webinar based on the expertise they have to offer. Maybe it’s on proper care for custom-made furniture pieces or guiding parents through tough conversations with their children following a divorce. For Beck, it was educating business owners about the dangers of only protecting their companies through firewalls and antivirus and feeling they were protected. In today’s cybersecurity world, that no longer works. Now, he’s positioned himself as the go-to resource on protecting your community and yourself.
“You can still put out a message and position yourself as the leader in your community and guide the way and educate,” Beck says. “And I don’t see these seminars as necessarily a sales call. You’re there to actually try to help and give value. You have to try to educate.”
Business leaders have a stake in shaping the way their industry functions, and properly educating the public about these topics is valuable. Regardless of where they are now, by taking it one step at a time and securing a position of educational value, business leaders can find the success they all crave.
And all of that is coming from a kid who originally just wanted to get paid to listen to some good tunes his whole life.