Dear VAR, you don’t have to go it alone
Have you felt like you’re on an island going through unique problems that no one else understands? Maybe you want to move from a product-centric model to start adding recurring revenue, or perhaps you’re struggling to make your service offerings profitable.
Your spouse or significant other doesn’t understand your business the way you do. Maybe they work in a different industry, so you’re speaking different languages. You don’t want to bring up challenges to your employees and cause unnecessary or premature worry on their end. You’ve talked to other CEOs, but their companies are wildly different from yours, so it’s not an apples to apples comparison, and they don’t understand the intricacies of your challenges.
You’re not alone
It sounds cliché, and probably doesn’t change how you’re feeling right now, but joining a peer group might be just what the doctor ordered. You’d physically not be alone when the whole group gets together, and you’d finally have someone who understands the challenges you’re facing and may even have a solution you haven’t thought of yet.
Everyone is going through similar challenges, no matter how big or small their company may be. Learn from the mistakes of others to help fast track your way to success—this is a concept we refer to as leapfrogging.
Accountability is the biggest advantage of joining a peer group—just like sticking to a workout routine. Some people need the accountability of a group to get things done. Without it, we tend to make excuses. We’re too busy. We haven’t gotten around to it yet. You say “I’ll do it tomorrow” but tomorrow never comes—mastering the art of procrastination.
With a peer group, respectfully, no one cares about your excuses. Your “I was too busy” is met with a friendly “You said you were going to do this last time. We’re all busy running a business. Been there, done that. Get it done.”
Everyone in the group lives a life that’s more comparable to yours—juggling running a business, carving out family time, and other priorities. If we want to move past whatever challenges lie in front of us, we have to put in the work to get there.
Advice for picking the right peer group
There are a lot of options when it comes to choosing which group to join. So many that you could feel paralyzed into not making a decision. Here are some things to consider as you vet your options:
1. Find a group that feels like family
Spending time with your peer group shouldn’t feel like a chore or punishment. It should be time that you look forward to. You’ll get the most out of the experience if you’re happy to be there. Family members look out for each other and are willing to go above and beyond to help each other out.
Take, for example, the Building a Sales Engine (BASE) training members Steve Riat of Nex-Tech and Nathan Austin of Mytech Partners presented to IT Nation Evolve peer groups. They shared their experience and knowledge of building a successful sales strategy and put fellow members on the path to building their own.
2. Look for a non-competitive environment
You shouldn’t be worried about competing with the members of your peer group. A competitive environment will hinder the willingness to share best practices and stifle the return on your time spent together.
We take this very seriously with our IT Nation Evolve peer groups. Before you are placed in a group, there’s a half-hour long interview to determine the best fit. We also ensure there are no physical competitors before placing you in a group. To thoroughly verify that you’re in the best possible, mutually beneficial group, our peer groups are also self-regulated. Group members get to vote on new additions to the group. You will get voted out for shady dealings, stealing employees, etc.
3. Open and Confidential Information Sharing
The value of peer groups is really in the willingness of the members to be open and honest about their challenges and to share solutions. Without this, there would be no opportunity to learn from one another.
During our JumpStart meetings, our onboarding event, we’ll work with you through your financials to ensure they are standardized to allow for better benchmarking across companies within the group. This gives us the ability to speak to what good looks like and identify areas for improvement.
4. Search for a Vendor Agnostic Group
You shouldn’t feel like you’re being forced to purchase certain products. The true purpose of a peer group is to help you build your company. Your time with the group should be respected and dedicated to business building best practices, not listening to a promotional message for product after product. Members should feel free to comment on products/software that they use, but that should be the extent of the product conversation.
What is IT Nation Evolve?
IT Nation Evolve is a member-based community that was created to help fuel your growth. It brings industry leaders together to share experiences, engage with peers, and build a community with others ready to learn, grow, and succeed.
Did you think it was only for MSPs? We’ve created a peer group for VARs and would love to formally invite you to join us (no pressure).
If you’re interested in speaking to someone about joining, please contact Joddey Hicks. He’d be happy to chat with you more about the IT Nation Evolve peer group offering. Or if you’d like to be a part of the IT Nation Evolve Community, you can apply online. We hope you consider joining. We’d love to have you.