This week’s MSP spotlight is John Hill, CEO and Founder of TechSage Solutions. Find out how he grew his company by narrowing his focus.
Company: TechSage Solutions
Headquartered: San Antonio, Texas
Geographic Market: Texas
Top Growth Indicator: Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)
YoY% of growth: 15%
CEO & Founder: John Hill
What are the top three business indicators you use to measure your company and why?
Monthly recurring revenue because that’s how we know how we’re doing and if we’re meeting our goals. We also look at client acquisition to see how many and what type of clients we’re bringing on board. Our third top indicator is profitability because you can have all the top-line growth you want, but if you don’t have some profit to go with that, then you’re in trouble.
What is the top lesson you had to learn to kickstart your business growth?
Don’t prejudge. Some clients, when you start to speak with them initially, appear to be awful clients. However, by the time you go through the process with them, it turns out they are terrific clients. That was a big thing that I had to ingrain: to not prejudge before taking them through the entire process. Most of the time, it turns out okay. Every now and then, you’ll disqualify somebody just because your first impression was right, but overall, having a sales process in place is a good yardstick to figure out whether they are a good fit.
What would you say is the single biggest secret to your success this past year?
“Refocusing on compliance. We focus on the new DOD standard Cyber Maturity Model Certification (CMMC). That’s our big focus with DOD contractors as a vertical niche client. That has really made a huge difference and is where the biggest part of our growth came from those types of clients.”
What would you say is the biggest challenge you had to overcome this past year related to reaching that growth?
“The biggest challenge was how to get to those DoD contractors. Figuring out the places we needed to go or the outreach we needed to do to zero in on them for the initial contact and then to close them differed from the standard outreach we’d been doing in the past.”
What is a partner or tool that helped you along the way?
“Kaseya’s Compliance Manager has been a key component because we’re able to do evaluations and assessments and run different types of scans and tests to collect data. The compliance manager allows us to do this in an extremely orderly fashion so that we can feed that data in where it needs to go in the compliance process to track exactly where we are. This is important because there are a ton of requirements that you must meet for the CMMC. This is all spelled out in Compliance Manager. (** Compliance Manager is a compliance process automation tool for achieving continuous compliance with HIPAA, GDPR, CMMC, NIST (SP) 800-171 and Cyber Insurance policies.) It will assign us tasks and show us where we are, the questions in the regulation, the things that we must answer, and sample formats.
Plus, once we get the client well situated in the Compliance Manager with some data class, we can do things such as run automated network scans and vulnerability scans. It automatically pulls that data into that client’s folder so we can access it. It’s also referenceable. We’ve got what they call artifacts that the assessors can look at to see the company’s results. From this, the assessors can see that the company has been complying with the requirements. Compliance Manager has been very, very helpful and is pretty much a critical component to what we’re doing, because on an ongoing basis it allows us to track a large number of items extremely easily, reference them, and then generate reports.
In conjunction with Compliance Manager, we use several Kaseya tools to pull the data that will eventually go into Compliance Manager. A new one we’ve started using that has been extremely helpful is VulScan, which we use to scan a client’s systems and network for vulnerabilities that then can be pulled right into Compliance Manager for remediation. We use their ID Agent and Dark Web ID to do dark web scanning. We also use BullPhish, which is a neat program. You can send out phishing emails to everyone in the company or just a division, or even individuals. If someone clicks on the phishing email, BullPhish will report back into the system and automatically assign a short video telling the employee who clicked on it why they shouldn’t have. We pull those results in too because that’s part of the compliance piece. These tools together created a nice ecosystem for working for us.”
Who would you say is the most impactful business leader whose techniques or leadership style you are influenced by, and why?
“Somebody that’s not directly in our industry that I’ve really looked up to in a lot of ways is Elon Musk. He’s got a single-mindedness to him and he’s willing to risk everything to get the job done. He’s nearly gone bankrupt a couple of times because he’s gone through his last money to make a project work. I’ve really admired that tenacity and that’s influenced me as far as really sticking to an issue. When we need to solve a problem, it’s inspired me to just focus and keep working on it to get the answer.”
If you were going to recommend a book to other MSPs or SMBs trying to grow their business, what would you say they should read?
“The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. The idea is that you do little things that eventually equate to big things. When I read that it had a lot of impact on me. After reading that I fully realized that you don’t have to do this great big thing all at once. You can take smaller pieces of it and cumulatively you get there.”
What words of wisdom would you give to other MSPs who are looking to grow their business the way you have?
The thing that’s really helped us is focusing in on a niche area, which in our case is the DOD contractor and the compliance aspect of that. Choose an area that you’re good and knowledgeable about and really dig in to showcase your expertise. Then find those clients that crave the knowledge you offer and are in that niche area so you can really develop a reputation of expertise and get referrals and a lot of other things that you couldn’t otherwise. We only recently began to focus on this niche. But developing this focus has been crucial and really helped us grow. Before we were using a scattershot approach. We focused generally on professional service companies, engineering firms and things like that. Now, with the specific niche and the kind of knowledge and expertise we’ve developed, we’re growing our reputation in that field. It’s made a huge difference and put us on an extremely positive track.”